WAS SHINGTON (AP) – Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn in in the Senate Wednesday, narrowing the chamber’s Republican control and shifting his state from red to blue.
, Kelly, 56, won the G.O.P. in last month’s election. Sen. Martha defeated Mascaly, leaving her to lose only three positions. Taking office, he has reduced the Republican edge in the chamber to 52-48.
This will have little effect on the control of the majority leader Mitch McConnell on the chamber in the final month of the congressional session. But those two major jan in Georgia. 5 sets the stage for Senate runoff elections.
If both Democrats win, they will head the 0-cha0 chamber for the new Congress in early January as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casts tie-breaking votes.
Kelly was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence, and at the end of the swearing-in ceremony, the two wore congratulatory masks and tied their arms. Among the visitors watching from the gallery was his wife, a former rapper. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz. And Scott Kelly, his twin brother and fellow retired astronaut.
Kelly’s Arizona ally, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema organized the Bible, on which he took the oath. Cinema, known for its dramatic fashion, may have been in the Senate for the first time, wearing a zebra-striped coat and purple hair or perhaps a wig.
Kelly’s Senate arrival is a political milestone for Arizona, which has two Democratic senators for the first time since January 1953. At the same time when GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater took office, barely a decade before his party’s failed 1964 presidential candidacy.
In other evidence of Arizona’s political upheaval, the state backed President-elect Joe Biden last month, the first time since 1996 that he has been run by a Democratic presidential candidate.
Late GOP Sen. Maxley was appointed to his seat in 2019 to replace John McCain. Her appointment only lasted until last month’s special election was officially certified, which came this week. This paved the way for Kelly to run for office and fill McCain’s remaining six-year term, meaning Kelly would face re-election in 2022.
Kelly was parachuting in a lengthy lame-duck session So far, lawmakers and President Donald Trump have been embroiled in controversy over whether to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in the pre-holiday COVID-19 relief package. They are also trying to consider a year-end budget work and defense policy bill.
Kelly cast herself as a problem-solving center during her campaign. His slim 2 percentage point win over Maxley suggests he will be part of the Democrats’ middle wing.
In one of the most expensive Senate races in the country, Kelly raised 89 89 million. According to Responsive Politics’ Nonpartisan Partner Center, it was second only to South Carolina’s Democratic Senate candidate James Harrison’s million 108 million.
Corey Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, and Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, were another Senate candidate last month.
The son of two police officers, Kelly is a retired astronaut who flew four space missions, including spending time on the International Space Station. He was also a naval pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
Giffords was seriously injured in a 2011 mass shooting that killed six people and injured a dozen others. He and Kelly became leading figures in unsuccessful attempts to pressure Congress to strengthen gun control.
“Great day, great day,” Giffords told reporters later.
Kelly is the fourth astronaut to be elected to Congress. John Glenn was a Democratic senator from Ohio and Harrison Smith was a GOP senator from New Mexico. Republican Jack Swigart was elected to the House from Colorado, but died of cancer before taking office.