Democratic US Senate candidate Mark Kelly separated himself from incumbent Republican Martha McSally, by saying he supports access to healthcare, refuses to take corporate money, wants to end the nation’s reliance on fossil fuel, supports background checks for gun purchases, and supports the Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling.
Kelly spoke to more than 100 people at a senior living center in Tucson. He sketched himself as an independent, saying “one of the reasons why Washington DC finds it difficult to solve problems is because of the partisanship and the power of the political party. Independence is a really important thing. I’m running as a Democrat but I’ve also been a registered independent. I vote for the person and not necessarily for the political party.”
Gun violence. Kelly is clearly against gun violence, and reminded the audience he and his wife Gabby Giffords founded the Giffords organization, which has helped pass 400 pieces of anti-gun violence laws in 45 states. The measures include background checks, stronger domestic violence laws and extreme risk protection orders.
McSally opposes restrictions on guns, even though the US has an average of 300+ mass shootings per year.
“Every year 40,000 people are shot and killed,” Kelly says. “That’s a lot of people. States that have stronger gun laws have less gun violence. Reforms like background checks are very popular with people across the country. Even here in Arizona, 70% of people said buyers should get a background check before buying a gun. I’m a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, but it’s our weak laws that are a cause of gun violence.”
Healthcare. Kelly supports access to health insurance and reducing prescription drug prices. “I met a young woman in Phoenix, and her son has down syndrome. She said, ‘I’m terrified he’s going to lose his health insurance because he has a preexisting condition,’” Kelly says. “We can provide good healthcare without worrying that a person will get kicked off if they get sick.”
“I meet people whose prescription drug price is 300% more than it was the year before,” he says. “We are sending people to the moon and we can bring down the price of prescription drugs.
McSally notoriously voted against Obamacare.
Corporate influence on elections.
“We want people who will work independently in public office, not because of corporate interests. I’m not taking corporate PAC money, because I’m beholden to the voters,” Kelly says.
“We need campaign finance reform. That’s one of the issues I’d like to work on if I’m elected. We shouldn’t treat corporations as people, and corporations should not be allowed to give political donations to candidates. That’s the heart of the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court.”
In that terrible ruling, the court ruled in 2010 that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by corporations, labor unions, and other associations.
McSally bathes in corporate donations, taking, for example, $55,500 from the Koch Brothers’ front group, Citizens for Prosperity, $49,420 from arms dealer Raytheon, and $44,600 from mining company Freeport-McMoRan.
Climate change. “We’ve got to get off fossil fuel. Big utilities can get their power from renewable energy sources. The price of solar power is coming down. We need to speed up the price decrease in renewable energy. When you can make an easy choice to switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy, people will do that.”
McSally opposes regulations that protect the environment. In Congress, she has voted in favor of more oil and natural gas drilling, against minimizing methane pollution, and voted to stifle exploration of potential climate solutions.
Border security. Kelly says there is a border security problem but he opposes building a wall. “We’ve spent $260 billion since 1986 on immigration enforcement and haven’t gotten much for it,” he says. “We need border security. If NASA were asked to deal with border security, they wouldn’t use a 17th-century solution for a 21st-century problem.”
“I was down on the border yesterday in Nogales. I’ve spent time on the border and rode the border on the back of a mule more than once. The border sector chief for the Tucson area wants more technology, more staffing and infrastructure, and not a 2,000-mile wall.”
“We cannot be taking little kids or any children away from their parents at the border. We’ve got to stop. We need more immigration judges to process the individuals that seek asylum.”
McSally supports Trump’s wall, wants to deny a path to citizenship to DACA recipients, and wants to reduce legal immigration.
Abortion rights. Kelly supports Roe v. Wade. “I’m a supporter of the court decision. Women have a right to make this very personal decision between themselves and their doctor.”
McSally opposes abortion rights, called for defunding Planned Parenthood, opposes public funding of abortions, and wants no taxpayer funding of abortions via ObamaCare. She would ban abortion after 20 weeks, except for maternal life.
Kelly said, “At NASA I learned how to work with people from different political systems. NASA is designed to do things that are pretty impossible. Leadership is finding a way forward together as a team, solving hard problems. Gabby told me how to improve public policy to change people’s lives. Policies really matter, people matter.”