Astronaut Mark Kelly announces bid for U.S. Senate

Gabrielle Giffords and husband retired astronaut Mark Kelly attend the Glamour Women of the Year Awards at Spring Studios in New York

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

Former astronaut Mark Kelly has already been to space, and how he's headed to the final frontier - Congress.

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly announced February 12 his intent to run for a United States Senate seat in Arizona. A special election is slated to be held in 2020 to determine who will take the veteran senator's seat.

Mr Kelly, 54, is married to former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who retired after being shot during a 2011 mass shooting.

But Mark Kelly's life and career changed after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, a Congresswoman from what was then Arizona's 8th district, was nearly assassinated on January 8, 2011 during a meeting with her constituents.

Giffords and Kelly have been active on gun control issues in recent years.

Kelly posted a video to Twitter on Tuesday while announcing his candidacy in which Giffords featured heavily. "I learned a lot about solving problems from being an engineer", Kelly says in the campaign announcement video.

"Solving some of the hardest problems requires one thing and that's teamwork", he said. He concludes by saying that Giffords taught him how policy can be used to improve people's lives and that he wants to focus on issues like affordable health care, climate change, wage stagnation and job creation. The video shows Kelly and Giffords in their Tucson-area home. Kelly has always been sought after by Democratic strategists and McSally is considered vulnerable following her loss to Sen.

A request for comment from the Giffords PAC on Kelly's involvement with the group going forward did not receive a reply by press time. The seat will be on the ballot for a full six-year term in 2022.

Before Mark Kelly was a Democratic-party US Senate candidate for Arizona, he was a high-flying NASA astronaut with some literally out-of-this-world space credentials. So because of that, I've decided that I'm a campaign for the United States Senate.

"I've made no secret of the fact that I'm looking seriously at running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, and that hasn't changed", Gallego tweeted after Kelly's announcement Tuesday morning. The shooting spree left six dead - including a member of Giffords's staff, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl - and 13 wounded. Former Sen. Jon Kyl was appointed by the state's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, to fill the seat, but Kyl held the seat only through the end of 2018 before stepping down.

McSally will be among the top target for Senate Democrats in 2020 in a state President Donald Trump won by less than 4 points in 2016. John McCain's (R) term after McCain's first replacement, Jon Kyl, stepped down at the end of previous year.

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