Kelly became a vocal proponent of reforming gun laws in the wake of the 2011 shooting.
Retired Astronaut Mark Kelly plans to make his mark in politics, following in the footsteps of his wife and former House Democrat Gabby Giffords. "So because of that, I've decided that I'm launching a campaign for the United States Senate", Kelly said in a video released Tuesday announcing his run as a Democratic candidate. "Solving some of the hardest problems requires one thing, and that's teamwork".
Kelly listed "affordable health care", job growth, the economy, and climate change as major issues that Arizonans will face in the coming years.
Both Kelly and Giiffords are mobile activists for gun regulation, but gun control wasn't mentioned in Kelly's campaign video. McSally had run for an open Senate seat past year, losing narrowly to Sen.
Kelly, who was originally a Navy pilot, spent 54 days in space serving on four NASA space shuttle missions to the International Space Station.
"Seeing that sunrise from space for the very first time, it is incredible", Kelly said. The victor will have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.
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A source close to Gallego told KTAR News in January that he was "very interested" in running for Senate, and the Democratic congressman tweeted Tuesday that he would make an announcement soon.
Mark Kelly is best known in space circles as a four-time shuttle astronaut (STS-108, STS-121, STS-124, STS-134) whose twin brother and fellow astronaut, Scott Kelly, spent nearly a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
"I thought then that I had the risky job", Kelly says to Giffords. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping to strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections, among other modest protections. 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. Jon Kyl, who had been appointed a few months earlier following GOP Sen.
Arizona is one of the Democrats' best pick-up opportunities.
Mr Kelly said Ms Giffords, who has been a rising Democratic star before the shooting, will join him frequently during campaign appearances.
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. Gen. Grant Woods became a Democrat and was exploring a run but last week announced he would stay out of the race.