NASA astronaut Mark Kelly launches Senate campaign

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

In his campaign announcement, Kelly highlights climate change, affordable health care, the stagnation of wages, job growth and the economy as the issues Arizonians will face. Gabby Giffords, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in 2011 in Tucson, Ariz.

Next year's election will determine who finishes the last two years of McCain's term.

"They are an embarrassment to this country, that they don't have any compassion or care for people who have been taken brutally from their families", she said.

"You know, seeing that sunrise from space for the very first time, it is incredible", he says in the opening of the video.

Four years later, Kelly's identical twin brother (and fellow astronaut) Scott Kelly left for a stint on the International Space Station. John McCain's seat in next year's special election. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), who now holds the seat vacated by the death of longtime Senator John McCain.

"I care about people, I care about the state of Arizona, I care about this nation, so because of that, I've decided that I'm launching a campaign for the United States Senate", he said in an official video.

If Kelly becomes the Democratic nominee, he will be up against McSally-also a veteran, having served in the Air Force as a pilot.

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Selected to become a NASA Space Shuttle pilot in 1996, he flew his first mission in 2001 as pilot of STS-108, and later went on to command STS-121 in 2006, STS-124 in 2008, and STS-134 in 2011.

The seat is a top target for Democrats because McSally just lost a Senate race and Democrats posted a strong showing elsewhere in Arizona, winning three statewide contests and picking up legislative and congressional seats. Both Giffords and Kelly have advocated for stricter gun control in the US.

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) joins her husband retired U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly in addressing reporters about the deadly shootings in Las Vegas, from a lectern outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. October 2, 2017. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections, among other modest reforms.

"My next mission... #FullSpeedAhead #ForArizona", Kelly tweeted, sharing a campaign video. Jon Kyl, resigned after only a few months in office. McSally is a favorite of Senate leadership including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who had urged her appointment.

Mark Kelly is not the first astronaut-turned-politician: John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth in 1962, served as a Democratic Senator for OH from 1974 to 1999.

Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix is also considering a Senate run, which would likely set up a tough fight for the Democratic nomination.

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