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Arizona’s Sen. Kelly-Masters race could shift Senate balance of power

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Sen. Mark Kelly, D-AZ, faces a challenge from venture capitalist Blake Masters for his Senate seat. This campaign marks Kelly’s first reelection bid after winning the seat in 2020’s special election. 

Following the trends seen elsewhere in key Senate races, earlier this year it looked like the former astronaut would win easily. Now the two are within just a few points of each other heading into election day. 

“It’s going to be a close race because of the analytics of the cycle, it’s a more Republican cycle than a Democratic cycle,” said Arizona political strategist and president of HigherGround Chuck Coughlin. He told Straight Arrow News Kelly has the edge.

“It’s clearly the economy, inflation, immigration are big issues in Arizona, but so is Mark’s reputation. He’s been an incumbent congressman, as you say, fighter pilot, astronaut, shuttle commander and married to a very popular figure in Arizona, and generally well liked. I suspect, at the end of the day, it will be enough,” Coughlin said. 

The governorship of Arizona is also up for grabs in Arizona. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is facing off against Republican and former television anchor Kari Lake. Coughlin said that race about getting people out to vote.

“Our data shows that Democrats are getting about 5% more Republicans voting for them than Democrats voting for Republicans. That’s a significant number in the cycle. And then that sort of leaves it up to unaffiliated voters,” Coughlin said.

Hobbs has been adamant in her refusal to participate in a debate ahead of election day. The Secretary of State recently claimed her opponent’s campaign is centered on “election denialism” as the reason for the decision, adding she doesn’t want to give Lake a “bigger stage” to share those views. Coughlin said the decision could have been the correct move, early on. 

“It was an easy decision to make given Lake’s record,” Coughlin said. “Appearing in front of the media and saying something like, you know, why would I debate somebody that denies and wouldn’t certify the last election that wants to get rid of your right to vote early voting, and that denies any discussion about reproductive rights and wants a constitutional ban. And there’s nothing left to debate simply say that and walk away. The campaign chose not to do that they chose to talk about format, and some other things early on, and it prolonged the issue. And it’s created an issue where Mrs. Lake has used it to her advantage.”

SHANNON LONGWORTH: Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to pick up control of the Senate. One path could be through Arizona where it looks like Senator Mark Kelly would win without issue early on, but now the race is tight. Joining me to talk about this key battleground is political strategist, Chuck Coughlin. Chuck is Kelly’s resume as a fighter pilot and astronaut and Gabby Giffords husband, not enough to win votes when inflation is such a priority.

CHUCK COUGHLIN | POLITICAL STRATEGIST: You know, that’s going to be the question that’s going to be the question on election day is what what are voters valuing? And how how do they weigh those things? It’s clearly the economy, inflation, immigration are big issues in Arizona, but so is Mark’s reputation. He’s been an incumbent congressman, as you say, fighter pilot, astronaut, shuttle commander and married to a very popular figure in Arizona, and generally well liked. I suspect, at the end of the day, it will be enough. But it’s going to be a close race because of the because the analytics of the cycle, it’s a more Republican cycle than a democratic cycle.

SHANNON LONGWORTH: Let’s talk about the race for governor. Recent polls suggest that Carrie Lake has the edge here. Do you think her position on the 2020 election results is a factor?

COUGHLIN: I do I mean, I think it is a thing that’s alienating part of the Republican base. Our data shows that about Democrats are getting about 5% more Republicans voting for them than Democrats voting for Republicans. That’s a significant number in the cycle. And then that sort of leaves it up to unaffiliated voters. Again, it’s how does the electorate weigh those issues? I personally think it does. It gives a lot of those undecided and swing voters pause. And so you know, the lake has been great at messaging her base and talking to Republican base voters. But you know, she hasn’t chosen to talk to the Arizona Republic since this spring, which would indicate that she really is not have an ear for the larger electorate.

LONGWORTH: Democrat Katie Hobbs remained adamant up until then that up until recently that heard about her decision not to debate Lake, do you think the Secretary of State made the right decision?

COUGHLIN: You know, it could have been the right decision early on, because it was an easy decision to make given lakes record, you know, simply appearing in front of the media and saying something like, you know, why would I debate somebody that denies and wouldn’t certify the last election that wants to get rid of your right to vote early voting, and that denies any discussion about reproductive rights and wants a constitutional ban. And there’s nothing left to debate simply say that and walk away. The debate, the campaign chose not to do that they chose to talk about format, and some other things early on, and it prolonged the issue. And it’s created an issue where Mrs. Lake has used it to her advantage.

LONGWORTH: And it does seem to be a strategy that several different candidates have been using across the country, isn’t it that they’re refusing to debate in person? Because they can control the narrative online? Is? Is that what’s going on?

COUGHLIN: Well, that’s that’s, you know, campaign politics. If you perceive yourself being ahead ahead in the election cycle and have the momentum, then why choose to debate? Why give you an opponent that option in under the scenario I laid out, it would have played up to your advantage up to a Hobbs advantage saying the issues or this the race has been decided and would have cast it in that light. What happened though, is she played it more as a tactical game rather than a narrative game. And it came out, you know, when I think against the ops campaign at the end, and I think it actually hurt her in the cycle.

LONGWORTH: Okay, Chuck Coughlin, I want to thank you for joining us, and we appreciate your time.

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Sen. Mark Kelly, D-AZ, faces a challenge from venture capitalist Blake Masters for his Senate seat. This campaign marks Kelly’s first reelection bid after winning the seat in 2020’s special election. 

Following the trends seen elsewhere in key Senate races, earlier this year it looked like the former astronaut would win easily. Now the two are within just a few points of each other heading into election day. 

“It’s going to be a close race because of the analytics of the cycle, it’s a more Republican cycle than a Democratic cycle,” said Arizona political strategist and president of HigherGround Chuck Coughlin. He told Straight Arrow News Kelly has the edge.

“It’s clearly the economy, inflation, immigration are big issues in Arizona, but so is Mark’s reputation. He’s been an incumbent congressman, as you say, fighter pilot, astronaut, shuttle commander and married to a very popular figure in Arizona, and generally well liked. I suspect, at the end of the day, it will be enough,” Coughlin said. 

The governorship of Arizona is also up for grabs in Arizona. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is facing off against Republican and former television anchor Kari Lake. Coughlin said that race about getting people out to vote.

“Our data shows that Democrats are getting about 5% more Republicans voting for them than Democrats voting for Republicans. That’s a significant number in the cycle. And then that sort of leaves it up to unaffiliated voters,” Coughlin said.

Hobbs has been adamant in her refusal to participate in a debate ahead of election day. The Secretary of State recently claimed her opponent’s campaign is centered on “election denialism” as the reason for the decision, adding she doesn’t want to give Lake a “bigger stage” to share those views. Coughlin said the decision could have been the correct move, early on. 

“It was an easy decision to make given Lake’s record,” Coughlin said. “Appearing in front of the media and saying something like, you know, why would I debate somebody that denies and wouldn’t certify the last election that wants to get rid of your right to vote early voting, and that denies any discussion about reproductive rights and wants a constitutional ban. And there’s nothing left to debate simply say that and walk away. The campaign chose not to do that they chose to talk about format, and some other things early on, and it prolonged the issue. And it’s created an issue where Mrs. Lake has used it to her advantage.”

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