2020               General Election

Mark Kelly https://markkelly.com/ is not your typical Irish politician. He is not really a politician.

In 1840, 17 million people lived in the US. In 1845, at the time of the potato famine, about 8 million people lived in Ireland. During the next few years, almost two million Irish emigrated to the United States. One quarter of the population of Ireland. Increasing the population of the United States by almost 12%. Our President has reacted with something like hysteria to an in migration that small in proportion.

Once here, the Irish proved to be effective American politicians. Boston swore in its first Irish-born mayor in 1885. New York preceded Boston with an Irish-born mayor in 1880. John Patrick Hopkins became Chicago’s first Irish Catholic mayor in 1893. He was born in Buffalo, not in Ireland. In 1960, John F. Kennedy was the first Irish Catholic President of the United States. He was born in Massachusetts. The Irish have made a success of their immigration to the United States – in politics and everything else.

Mark Kelly is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate from Arizona in 2020. He has a great background for an apolitical politician. He graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy and joined the navy. He flew airplanes. Thirty-nine missions from the USS Midway aircraft carrier during Operation Desert Storm. He earned more than a dozen medals. When the war was over, he became a test pilot.

In 1996, he and his twin brother Scott joined the NASA Astronaut Corps. Mark Kelly flew four Space Shuttle missions – one as a member of the crew, one as the pilot, and two as the commander.

An anomaly. A perfect Irish American political candidate would be running in Massachusetts or New York or Illinois. Mark Kelly is running in Arizona.  White non-Hispanics are almost 75% of Arizona’s population. Not that many are Irish. Fewer than 10% of Arizonans self-report as being of Irish descent. Ten per cent is slightly more than the calculated percent of the population who are undocumented immigrants in Arizona.

Another anomaly. His wife is Jewish. His second wife. Married by a rabbi. When Mark Kelly was in need of a prayer in public, he turned to that same rabbi for the text of a prayer.

His wife is crucial to his political story. She is the former congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Shot by an assassin who wounded her and killed six at one of her political gatherings. There was some brain damage. Which affects her speech.

Mark Kelly was reached in Houston, at NASA, when she was shot. After she was on the road to recovery, he returned to Houston to complete his last Space Shuttle command. He retired and she resigned from Congress.

Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords had retirement jobs together. They created an organization to advocate for gun safety legislation. The organization is part of the gun safety movement.

Gabby Gifford had what promised to be a great political career. The NY Times did a story about Gabby and her three closest Congressional friends, young women expected to go places. In addition to noting where Gabby Gifford is now, a reprise of that story would find the following:

  • Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota was defeated for reelection in her very Republican state.
  • Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida was chair of the DNC during the 2016 presidential loss. The DNC was criticized for favoritism for Hillary Clinton and was hacked by the Russians.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed, then elected to the US Senate. Among the strongest voices for women in the country, her pivotal role in Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s resignation may have limited her ability to gain traction as a presidential candidate.

Her speech affected by the shooting, Gabby cannot campaign the way she once did. Mark Kelly carries the family banner for political success. His success depends on his ability to present himself authentically, to be a successful politician while being the non-politician he is.

Mark Kelly has made a mostly successful start. Within the Democratic Party. His only serious challenger for the Democratic nomination, Congressman Ruben Gallego, decided not to run.

In forming a political identify. Mark Kelly is establishing himself as a blue collar guy. His mother and his father were cops. Born and raised in New Jersey, he lived closer to Newark than Cory Booker. His political focus has been on bread and butter issues – ensuring affordable health care for everyone (but not arguing for Medicare for All).

Money has been an issue. In a good way and a bad way. Mark Kelly and Gabby have been earning money on the speaking circuit. He spoke in Abu Dhabi. And was criticized for that. He returned the $55,000 he received. They spoke at Youngstown State University in Ohio. They were questioned about how much they earned. It took a while to disclose that it was $65,000. He has been paid to speak in support of Shaklee products. Nutrition supplements used by NASA and the astronauts.

How has he offset the criticisms? By announcing he would take no corporate PAC funds. By attacking the lack of fund raising transparency of the appointed Republican Senator against whom he is running. By raising a lot of money — four million dollars in the first quarter of 2019. He is no Bernie Sanders. He is not raising money from an ideological base. Many donors contributed the maximum permitted. It may be a challenge to continue raising at that level. Will he have money to overcome the challenge of attacks on how he has earned his money?

His opponent is not a push over. Martha McSally flew for the Air Force, not the Navy. She was the first American woman to fly in combat after the prohibition was lifted. Retired, she ran for Congress and lost. Then she won. She ran for the US Senate in 2018. She lost. To fellow Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. When John Kyl resigned from his appointment to the Senate in place of John McCain, Martha McSally was appointed in his place.

McSally has her own story. Daughter of a teacher. Her father was an attorney who died young. She is not a #metoo kind of Republican, but has #metoo stories to tell. From high school sports and from the military. She sued the Department of Defense for making her wear an abaya while she was stationed in Saudi Arabia.

This contest may rest on how much Arizona has changed. How much it has become a Democratic state. How unpopular is Donald Trump in Arizona. Mark Kelly https://markkelly.com/ is attacking his opponent for being a Trump rubber stamp. If Trump is as unpopular as he appears to be and if that charge sticks, Mark Kelly can become Arizona’s second Democratic US Senator. Help him to just that. Send him some support,’

Southern and Democrats running for office in 2019:

John Bel Edwards          Reelection as Governor of Louisiana

Jim Hood                           Current AG, running for Governor of Mississippi

Jennifer Riley Collins   Mississippi Attorney General


Southern and Southwestern Democrat running statewide in 2020

Doug Jones             Reelection as Senator from Alabama

Roy Cooper             Reelection as Governor of North Carolina

Jaime Harrison     Party Leader running for Senator from South Carolina

Mark Kelly               Former Astronaut running for Senator from Arizona