Saturday, February 02, 2013

Can Mark Kelly Close The Deal For Democrats In Arizona?


Let's say all his hatred and bile finally backs up and kills McCain and that he dies while you're reading this post. After all the bullshit about what a national hero he was for crashing every plane he ever piloted and spending the Vietnam was in a prison cell is over with, the two parties will have to come up with candidates to replace him. The Republicans have a whole bench of zombie retreads sitting and waiting-- from sex predator John Shadegg and Internet pornography entrepreneur Ben Quayle to whomever still isn't in prison between Rick Renzi and J.D. Hayworth. And never forget that deranged right-wing closet case Trent Franks' biggest dream in to sit between Miss McConnell and Lindsey Graham in the Senate. But what about the Democrats? Do they have a bench in Arizona?

You know, despite Jeff Flake winning the Senate seat against Richard Carmona, 50-46%, and despite Romney's 54-44% win, Arizona's non-gerrymandered congressional districts actually yielded up five Democratic winners and only four Republicans (although one of the "Democrats," Ann Kirkpatrick is so far the only Democrat in the House to vote with the GOP on 100% of the crucial roll calls this this session). And there's always former two-term Governor, current Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. But, as Aaron Blake pointed out in yesterday's Washington Post-- and as anyone watching the Senate gun violence hearings Wednesday had already noticed-- Arizona Democrats may have a new star on the immediate political horizon.
Despite Democrats’ argument that the state is shifting toward them politically, they still haven’t been able to break through in offices other than the U.S. House. Today, Arizona Democrats hold not one statewide office.

But if anyone can change that, many believe it’s Giffords’s husband Mark Kelly.

The question is whether he wants it.

Kelly had his biggest turn on the political stage Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, and the reviews were strong.

But while Kelly and Giffords have made clear that they will be players in politics-- through both a political action committee (Gabby PAC) and a super PAC described by some as the anti-NRA (Americans for Responsible Solutions)-- it’s not clear that Kelly is interested in realizing his wife’s political goals. Namely, running for statewide office.

Kelly has the kind of profile that political recruiters drool over. He’s a retired astronaut, a strong public speaker, and he has banked a significant amount of goodwill over the last two years. What’s more, the fundraising involved in the couple’s new ventures is great experience for a political campaign.

But even those close to Giffords and Kelly have no idea what the future holds for Kelly.

“I have no idea if he’d be interested,” said Republican former Kentucky secretary of state Trey Grayson, who is a co-chair of Gabby PAC. “Obviously, he has a lot of attributes that would make him a strong candidate if he wanted to run-- good personal narrative, charisma, smart, drive, been in outer space, Gabby’s network of volunteers and donors.”

...Before the tragedy in Tucson, Giffords built an impressive electoral record in the House, holding a Republican-leaning district in a very tough year in 2010, as other Democrats in similar districts-- even longtime incumbents-- lost in the GOP wave.

Any Democrat who would run statewide would need to run strong in Tucson-based Pima County, and Kelly would undoubtedly have a leg up in that region. Beyond that, it’s about keeping it close in the rest of the state-- particularly Republican-leaning Maricopa County.

And despite his efforts on guns, Kelly hasn’t marginalized himself on the issue. During Wednesday’s hearing, for instance, he focused on issues besides the controversial assault weapons ban and more on tougher background checks, which polls show have broad public support.

Kelly and his wife are also gun owners (he said Wednesday that he and his wife are “pro-gun ownership” but “anti-gun violence”) and his wife ran as a supporter of gun rights in her previous campaigns. Kelly also reached out to NRA head Wayne LaPierre after Wednesday’s hearing-- after firmly disagreeing with LaPierre’s stance against increased background checks-- which suggests he’s hoping to remain someone that advocates on both sides of the gun issue feel comfortable with.

That may be aimed at the super PAC’s political goals more than Kelly’s own, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if Kelly were to attempt a run in a red state.
Of course, no one really has much of a clue where he stands on the basic issues other than gun violence. Few people remember that Giffords was an ardent Blue Dog well to the right of the Democratic mainstream on almost every important issue. That doesn't mean that Kelly is as bad-- or, he could be even worse. Or better.

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At 9:37 AM, Blogger FoalBreeder said...

If he wants it , I would love it.


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