Democratic Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly predicted that almost 7.3 million residents of his battleground state would “value independence over anything” when heading to the polls Tuesday.
Speaking with Fox News on Election Day, the former NASA astronaut said that despite changing demographics in the historically red Copper State he, like Arizonans, values independence over political affiliation.
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“I mean, I was a registered independent for two years,” Kelly said. “And, folks like John McCain who work[ed] across the aisle… That’s what we need to have.”
The late Sen. John McCain, beloved by his constituents, passed away from aggressive brain cancer in the summer of 2018. He was known for his ability to extend his hand to those with differing viewpoints, and later for his disdain for President Trump.
Kelly said that looking at the U.S. House of Representatives these days, he did not see lawmakers who could compromise or negotiate for the good of the people they represent.
“We don’t need more partizanship and polarization. These problems that we face really [are] hard to solve,” he said. “I don’t think Democrats can solve them or Republicans.”
The decorated Navy service member said he felt “pretty good” heading into election night and that he believes Washington, D.C. has failed his state.
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Kelly acknowledged that while the 2020 presidential election may be “pivotal,” what matters most at the end of the day is “leadership that brings [America] together.”
In a message much like that of 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Kelly pledged to work as a unifier.
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“If you’re looking for somebody who’s willing to work across the aisle, who is tired of the partisanship and the polarization, the choice is pretty clear,” Kelly added.
Kelly has led the race against Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally for the last couple of months, though McSally has remained confident in her chances.
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Arizonans turned out to vote early in droves, with Democrats and Republicans within less than one percentage point of each other.
Nearly 2.64 million early ballots were cast by Monday, a figure exceeding the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election.