Arizona’s Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly bested Republican challenger Blake Masters in a crucial race that puts Democrats in a good position to maintain their majority in the Senate.
The race was called Friday night. With 83% of the vote recorded, Kelly led Masters 51.8% to 46.1%.
“Thank you, Arizona,” Kelly said on Friday night.
Masters spent Thursday adamant that the remaining votes would favor him and push him into the lead.
“We are seeing the last few big, pro-Dem drops,” Masters said via Twitter on Thursday night. “Soon they’ll run out, & then there are hundreds of thousands of pro-R ballots to count. We will overtake them and win.”
But by Friday evening, it had become mathematically impossible, with Kelly’s lead buoyed by voters in Maricopa County and Pima County, where the bulk of the yet-to-be-talled ballots remain.
Taking a page out of former President Donald Trump’s most recent playbook, Masters appeared live on Tucker Carlson after his loss and slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for refusing to invest Senate Leadership Fund PAC money in his race.
“McConnell decided to spend millions of dollars attacking a fellow Republican in Alaska instead of helping me defeat Sen. Mark Kelly,” Masters said. “Had he chosen to spend money in Arizona, this race would be over and we’d be celebrating a Senate majority right now.”
Control of the Senate now hinges on the outcome of the race in Nevada, where Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is trailing GOP challenger Adam Laxalt, and a Dec. 6 run-off in Georgia between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 in an assisination attempt and survived, was first elected in 2020 in a special election after the death of GOP Sen. John McCain.
While Kelly consistently outperformed Masters in polling going all the way back to the beginning of the campaign season – including in many polls by double digits – the polling tightened to within the margin of error in the run-up to Election Day.
Masters, a newcomer to politics and former capitalist venture capitalist, strategically rode the coattails of Kari Lake, the state’s GOP nominee for governor – a race that as of Friday afternoon was still too close to call – and appeared alongside her at campaign rallies. He painted Kelly as a Biden surrogate and harped on rising crime, inflation and the US-Mexico border. Though Kelly ran fundraising circles around him, Masters enjoyed an infusion from a MAGA PAC and from Republican megadonor Peter Thiel, his mentor and former boss.
But Kelly pumped up his image as an independent, distanced himself from Biden and liked himself to McCain. He also slammed Trump-endorsed Masters as an extreme candidate. And in the end, it was enough to earn him his first full term.