Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) has lined up numerous endorsements from prominent Arizona Republicans, announcing nearly 50 Republicans and independents behind him in July and over 40 more this month. As a Democrat in a traditionally red state, he is trying to portray himself as a moderate in the race against Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Blake Masters.
Arizona political consultant Jason Rose told The Arizona Sun Times the endorsements may be very effective, pointing out how well they worked for a previous well-known Arizona Democratic politician and citing the endorsement of Mesa Mayor John Giles. “Former Governor Janet Napolitano reinvented effective Republican receptivity for Democrats,” he said. “Mark Kelly is now following that model. His ads along these lines are designed not for everyone but the narrow slice of swing voters that have and will determine such elections. Having them anchored by the Republican mayor of one of the largest Republican cities in America is impressive, and will be effective. After all, where is Blake Masters’ Democrat group for him?”
Political consultant Stan Barnes, who is the president of Copper State Consulting Group and a former Arizona state senator, doesn’t believe the endorsements will be too effective. He told The Sun Times, “Sen. Kelly is attracting some endorsements from people that are Republican and of profit reputation in the community… good for Kelly campaign morale, bad for Masters campaign morale, but not meaningful to the outcome of the 2022 General Election.”
Brian Ference, a member-at-large with the Maricopa County Republican Committee who has actively singled out Republicans who side with Democrats, including drafting and getting passed a censure of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, expressed his dismay to The Sun Times. “Any Republican who supports Mark Kelly and his 79 percent-plus voting record supporting the terrible left-wing policies of Joe Biden should be ashamed of themselves and either resign or be primaried immediately,” he said.
Many of the endorsements came from Republicans known for crossing the aisle and supporting Democrats and Democratic policies. Mesa Mayor John Giles, one of the first Republicans who endorsed Kelly, got caught calling then-President Donald Trump an “idiot” on a hot mic in 2017. He was talking to former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), suggesting Flake “point out what an idiot this guy is.”
Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, who has a history of endorsing Democrats, was also on the list. He endorsed President Joe Biden in 2020. After years of feuding with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he endorsed a Democrat who used to work for the ACLU for Maricopa County Attorney in 2008.
Former Arizona legislator Heather Carter upset conservatives over her frequent votes with Democrats. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club stated in 2020, “Liberal Heather Carter is working WITH DEMOCRATS to undermine our Conservative Values and defeat President Trump’s border security agenda! Heather Carter voted WITH DEMOCRATS to protect Free Healthcare for illegal immigrants, issue Sanctuary City ID Cards to illegals and provide illegals with taxpayer subsidized college tuition.”
Former Phoenix City Councilwoman Peggy Neely supported funding a day labor center in Phoenix used by illegal immigrants, voted to subsidize a nearly $100 million subsidy to developers to build a high-end mall known as CityNorth, and supported funding light rail.
Other prominent Republicans include Maricopa County Supervisor Paul Hickman, former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, longtime John McCain-affiliated political consultant Max Fose, and former Congressman Jim Kolbe.
Kelly’s website said he is “repeatedly ranked one of the most bipartisan members of the Senate.” However, according to the political site FiveThirtyEight, he voted with President Joe Biden 94 percent of the time. Several Democrats received lower scores than him, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Additionally, Kelly voted with Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) 96 percent of the time. The American Conservative Union rated Kelly’s voting record 12.82, lower than Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who is considered more moderate with a 14.74.
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