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Kelly tackles rising prices in first ad of re-election bid

February 23, 2022 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly began airing Wednesday the first ad of his re-election campaign as he looks to repeat his 2020 victory in this year’s much tougher political environment for Democrats.

Kelly’s ad highlights his family’s humble finances growing up and paints “too many politicians” as out of touch with the financial struggles facing Americans. It also highlights his background as a Navy pilot and astronaut.

“I know Arizona families are working hard to get by right now,” Kelly says in the ad, clad in the signature black T-shirt he wore in his 2020 advertising. “And that’s why I won’t give up on getting our economy back on track and lowering everyday costs.”

Rising prices for everything from food to gas look to be a liability for Kelly and other Democrats on the ballot this year.

The Arizona Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the country, central to Democrats’ hopes of holding onto their slim Senate majority.

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Kelly’s campaign said the ad will air in the Phoenix and Tucson broadcast markets. A shorter spot will run on digital platforms statewide.

While the ad marks the first official spending by Kelly’s own campaign, outside groups have kept the airwaves flush with ads praising or targeting both Kelly and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Kelly retired as an astronaut and began a gun-control advocacy group with his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after she was wounded in a 2011 shooting at a constituent event.

Arizona has long been a Republican stronghold, but some Democrats including Kelly and Sinema made inroads during Donald Trump’s presidency by building images as moderates committed to working across the aisle. Kelly defeated Republican Martha McSally by 2.4 percentage points in a 2020 special election to finish the last two years of Sen. John McCain’s final term in the Senate.

He is now running to hold onto the seat for a full six-year term but faces headwinds with rising prices, enthusiastic Republicans and a Democratic president whose popularity has suffered.

“Admitting how bad things are for Arizonans under his leadership and lying about his support for inflation-inducing spending isn’t the winning message Kelly thinks it is,” said Katharine Cooksey, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the arm of the GOP focused on winning Senate races.