Political experts say Mark Kelly's Senate run will challenge Republicans

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords, to run for Senate

Watch former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly campaign announcement that he is running for U.S. Senate in Arizona.

Kelly, who is the husband of former Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is running as a Democrat.

Kelly became a vocal proponent of reforming gun laws in the wake of the 2011 shooting.

Kelly and his wife were thrust into the national consciousness on January 8, 2011, when Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt at a meet-and-greet event with constituents outside a supermarket in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

Mr Kelly and Ms Giffords have pushed Congress to enact gun control measures with little success.

"We've seen this retreat from science and data and facts, and if we don't take these issues seriously, we can't solve these problems", he says. [.] I care about people, I care about the state of Arizona, I care about this nation.

The seat is a top target for Democrats because McSally just lost a Senate race in November and Democrats posted a strong showing in the November election, winning three statewide contests and picking up legislative and congressional seats.

He and his identical twin brother Scott both became NASA astronauts in 1996.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly on Tuesday announced his bid for Senate.

"Arizonans are facing incredibly challenging issues here in the years to come: access to affordable healthcare, the stagnation of wages, job growth, the economy, as the climate warms we're going to have more drought here in the desert", Kelly says.

Mr Kelly is a combat pilot who served during the first Gulf War and later flew four space missions for Nasa from 2001 to 2011. Former Arizona Rep. Martha McSally was appointed to fill the seat until the 2020 special election. "You know, it's pretty obvious pretty early when you get into space that we're all kind of in this together". Among others, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, a former Marine who represents most of Phoenix, is also expected to run. He was a backup pilot for the 1970 Apollo 13 mission and was swapped in a few days before the flight when Ken Mattingly was exposed to measles. McCain won re-election in 2016 but died from brain cancer last August.

Six others were killed in the attack. The seat will be on the ballot for a full six-year term in 2022. Kelly entered the race Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 to finish John McCain's term in the U.S. Senate, looking to join a small club of astronauts who have traded an office in outer space for the U.S. Capitol.

"The thing I have to do for my wife is to be able to think clearly and make good decisions..."

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