Blake Masters congratulates Mark Kelly on his re-election win for US Senate

Sen. Mark Kelly beat his Trump-backed challenger Blake Masters and won reelection, putting Democrats one win away from clinching control of the Senate.
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 8:15 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 2:54 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Blake Masters has conceded the race for U.S. Senate during a call with the race’s presumptive winner Senator Mark Kelly. The two rivals confirmed the phone conversation Tuesday morning, saying it was very cordial. Masters, the GOP candidate, and Kelly, the Democratic candidate, have been locked into an incredibly tight race for Arizona’s second Senate seat for well over a year.

Incumbent Mark Kelly has been re-elected to the U.S. Senate, according to an Associated Press projection, defeating Trump-backed GOP nominee Blake Masters. After the first ballot drop, Kelly maintained a steady lead over Masters. As more ballots from rural Arizona came in, Masters narrowed the gap a little, but Kelly was able to hold the lead throughout the week.

AP called the race last Friday evening as Kelly was at 52% over Masters 46%, holding a nearly 140,000-vote lead. The Democratic party is one victory away from clinching control of the chamber for the next two years of Joe Biden’s presidency. With Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie breaking vote, Democrats can retain control of the Senate by winning either the Nevada race, which remains too early to call, or next month’s runoff in Georgia. Republicans now must win both those races to take the majority.

CBS news is projecting Mark Kelly as the winner over Blake Masters.
CBS news is projecting Mark Kelly as the winner over Blake Masters.(Arizona's Family)

Kelly released a statement after the win, thanking all his supporters.

Katie Hobbs also posted on Twitter after Kelly and Adrian Fontes were called as the projected winners.

Kelly and Giffords were at an Elton John concert in Phoenix on Friday night when The Associated Press called the race, campaign spokesperson Sarah Guggenheimer said. Maricopa County reported a large batch of results that increased Kelly’s lead and made clear Masters could not make up the difference with the remaining ballots.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also released a statement congratulating Kelly. “Arizonans once again chose independent leadership over partisan politics in reelecting Mark Kelly to the U.S. Senate. I congratulate Mark on his victory, and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as we put Arizona first and deliver for Arizonans in the Senate,” Sinema said.

Kelly’s 2022 campaign largely focused on his support for abortion rights, protecting Social Security, lowering drug prices and ensuring a stable water supply in the midst of a drought, which has curtailed Arizona’s cut of Colorado River water. With President Joe Biden struggling with low approval ratings, Kelly distanced himself from the president, particularly on border security, and played down his Democratic affiliation amid angst about the state of the economy. He also styled himself as an independent willing to buck his party, in the style of McCain.

On the issue of a Social Security, the Kelly campaign often has said that Masters wanted to completely privatize the program. During a televised debate in June, Masters put privatization on the table, offering a phased-in approach to hold retirees harmless.

Some other problems at hand include what Kelly are curtailing costs for Arizonans in the midst of high inflation. He is also pushing the federal government to do more at the southern border, including asking them to develop a coordinated response to deal with the influx of migrants entering the United States every day.

On gun rights, Kelly supported a bipartisan measure later signed by Biden, in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas. That measure was one of the most sweeping gun violence bills in decades, according to the Associated Press. It was an issue that hit Kelly close to home, following the attempted assassination of his wife, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, in Tucson back in 2011.

Masters, an acolyte of billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, tried to penetrate Kelly’s independent image, aligning him with Biden’s failure to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and tamp down on rampant inflation. Masters endeared himself to many GOP primary voters with his penchant for provocation and contrarian thinking. He called for privatizing Social Security, took a hard-line stance against abortion and promoted a racist theory popular with white nationalists that Democrats are seeking to use immigration to replace white people in America. But after emerging bruised from a contentious primary, Masters struggled to raise money and was put on the defense over his controversial positions.

He earned Trump’s endorsement after claiming “Trump won in 2020,” but under pressure during a debate last month, he acknowledged he hasn’t seen evidence the election was rigged. He later doubled down on the false claim that Trump won. After the primary, he scrubbed some of his more controversial positions from his website, but it wasn’t enough for the moderate swing voters who decided the election.

Kelly, a former NASA astronaut who’s flown in space four times, is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who inspired the nation with her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head during an assassination attempt in 2011 that killed six people and injured 13. Kelly and Giffords went on to co-found a gun safety advocacy group.

His reelection is likely a result of high favorability among independents. Exit polling and data from the AP VoteCast showed that Kelly’s victory in the 2020 special election was powered by support from 61% of independents and 12% of Republicans.