Background Information: Mark Kelly is a retired Captain for the United States Navy. On top of this, he worked at NASA as an astronaut in 1996 till 2011 (1). He co-founded an organization with his wife Gabby Giffords called GIFFORDs, which unites: veterans, law enforcement, gun owners, faith leaders, and Americans of all stripes to reduce gun violence and make communities safer. He views himself as a member of the community, wishing to serve his community and to also cross party lines.
Voting History (2): His voting attendance is quite remarkable, for he has only missed 2 out of 573 roll call votes. Showing he has been active in his role as a senator. In comparison to his peers, such as Senator Booker or Warren, who have above 39% missing (11).
When looking towards bills he has sponsored and got enacted, there are two. The first was S. 2318: Demand-Response Management Act of 2021 which amended the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to require consideration of a standard for promoting the use of demand-response technology and practices, and for other purposes. The second being S. 1672: ROCKS Act which is a bill to direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group to conduct a study on access to certain resources for infrastructure projects, and for other purposes.
When looking at his bipartisanship, he is more likely to step across the aisle on certain issues. For example, he voted Yes to both Joseph Dawson the Third and Liam P. Hardy, both being Trump appointees and held a majority of Democrats voted Nay. There are also other incidents which he approved Trump appointed nominees while Democrats disagreed (2).
Beyond this, Mr. Kelly also joined bipartisan bills the most in comparison to his counterparts. Of the 28 bills that Mr. Kelly cosponsored, 71% were introduced by a legislator who was not a Democrat. He shows a willingness to extend a hand across the aisle. This is a positive, especially when you look towards his counterparts such as Senator Warren who only cosponsored 29% of bills that were introduced by legislators who were not Democrat (12).
The concern comes in to the bills he voted for on the 117th congress (2021-22) (3). He voted to increase the debt limit, extend government funding and voted for the $3.5 trillion budget plan. A lot of his votes ended up agreeing with President Biden and his agenda, such as agreeing to the $1.9 trillion for COVID-19 relief. He also voted to expand the voting rights bill that the Democrats were pushing, along side the infrastructure bill. In many regards, he supported Biden every step along the way.
By the topics: For healthcare, he believes people have a right to affordable healthcare (4). He holds the belief that Medicare can have a buy-in, with a limited public option. While he is unsure of single-payer care, he does want to see increased access as a whole (5). Overall, he is not nearly as extreme as those on the far left but he wants to make changes for a more progressive system
In terms of gun control, he himself owns guns (5). Yet, he believes congress has done nothing to stop gun violence. As stated in his background, he started the GIFFORDs organization to combat gun violence. He also is an advocate for tougher gun laws in America (6).
Moving towards a bigger government and taxes, he believes in increasing government capability as seen in his support for the infrastructure bill (9). He did not support Trump’s tax cut as well (8). As seen in his voting history, it is clear this is not to change either.
The one point he stands at a contrast to most Democrats is his views on immigration. He believes in a strong and effective border security. Yet, he also is a proponent of keeping the DREAM program. Yet on immigration itself, he has fought President Biden calling it a border crisis (7). He believes it makes sense to build a wall at some parts of the border (13).
What is the verdict on Mark Kelly? In comparison to his Democrat counter parts, he is better. That is a low bar to pass. So, as a conservative, Mark Kelly does not impress in the slightest. He seems to be a typical Democrat that will vote on party lines with moments of rebellion. He is also not as radical on gun control as someone like Beto O’Rourke (10). Senator Kelly does hold different values from Democrats and is willing to split, such as on immigration. But it has yet to be seen if he will end up like Senator Manchin, who will fight for his beliefs even if it means making his party upset. Out of all the Democrats, he seems to have an air of reason about him than most of his party which is falling further and further left.
Is he someone to vote for in the 2022 Arizona Senate Race? No. The only conceivable way he would deserve a vote, as a conservative, is if the Republican running against him would do consideration damage to the conservative movement. Yet, with Mark Kelly winning, it would not be the worst result as he has shown a willingness to look at the other side.