Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a “good” politician. But those who come to the dark art of politics later in life – those who are forced into the immoral world of politics out of a genuine, and often desperate necessity for change – are our best hope. Those who spend most of their professional lives doing concrete things, creating things, working among their neighbors, and struggling just like the rest of us — are what we should look for in our leadership. In trying times as these, the best kinds of politicians are these rare kinds of Americans; the ones who are pushed into politics by fate or a tragic event. Mark Kelly – husband of former Tucson Congresswoman Gabby Giffords – is now one of these rare politicians.
As many are now aware, Mark Kelly is running for Arizona Senate in 2020 against appointed Senator, Martha McSally. He made this announcement on Twitter, a few days ago in a moving ad. If policy answers are what you desire to know about Mark Kelly, watch his ad, in which he lays out his vision for Arizona. However, if you just want to get a feel for what kind of person he is; below are ten non-political facts about Mark Kelly and ten really great reasons for anyone really – to gladly, and without reservation, give him your vote in 2020.
- Mark was born in Orange New Jersey in 1964. His Parents (both of them) are retired police officers; his mother was one of the first female police officers in New Jersey.
- He attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy – graduating with highest honors
- He is a combat aviator – flying 39 combat missions in Desert Storm and has logged over 5000 hours in over 50 different kinds of aircraft. He is highly decorated for his service to our nation, his medals include Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross
- He and his brother joined NASA and became astronauts in 1996. Mark has logged 54 days in space.
- Mark has two adult daughters from his first marriage.
- Mark met Gabby in 2003 on a trip to China for the National Committee on U.S. China Relations. In 2007 they were married. The ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Stephanie Aaron.
- Mark has been both a NASA pilot and a commander – on his first commanding mission, Mark became the first spouse of a member of Congress to travel to space.
- When Gabby was shot, the same Rabbi who presided over their marriage, offered this prayer over Gifford’s body on the night of the shooting; Mark later recited this same prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast:
“In the name of God, our God of Israel, may Michael, God’s angel messenger of compassion, watch over your right side. May Gabriel, God’s angel messenger of strength and courage, be on your left. And before you, guiding your path, Uriel, God’s angel of light and behind you, supporting you, stands Raphael, God’s angel of healing. And over your head, surrounding you, is the presence of the Divine.”
- Mark commanded the Endeavor’s last mission; in which The European and Italian Space Agencies asked Pope Benedict XVI to give a Papal blessing to Mark’s wife: Gabby (recovering from a gunshot wound to the head). This marked the first time a Pope spoke to Astronauts. After this Space flight Mark retired from NASA and the Navy.
- Mark has authored five books, many of which ended up on the New York Times Bestseller List. Mark is a co-founder and strategic advisor for a Tucson-based, near space company: World View Enterprises.
“I care about people, I care about the state of Arizona, I care about this nation. We’ve seen this retreat from science and data and facts and if we don’t take these issues seriously, we can’t solve these problems. We’re going to need to bring people together. From all parts of the state, from all walks of life. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
Is Mark perfect? Probably not. Truth is, I would have voted for any Democrat that ran against McSally in 2020, but I am so thankful, and I feel lucky that my vote gets to go to this great American – Let’s do this Tucson!