Ex-Astronaut Mark Kelly Opens 10-Point Lead Over McSally in Arizona Senate Race

(CN) — Arizona’s Republican Senator Martha McSally, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, trails Democrat Mark Kelly by double digits in her run to keep her seat in Congress’ upper chamber, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The OH Predictive Insights poll showed that 52% of likely voters would choose Kelly, a former space shuttle commander, over McSally, a retired Air Force fighter pilot. McSally would get the nod from 42% if the vote were held this month.

Wednesday’s poll numbers represent a widening lead for Kelly, the husband of former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who retired after she was shot in an assassination attempt in 2011. A poll last month showed Kelly leading by just 5%, OH said in a statement.

“Senator McSally’s barrage of attacks against Mark Kelly seemed to be working last month,'” said Mike Noble, OH Predictive’s chief of research. “However, Kelly is now deploying his vast war chest to fight back, which is boosting his fortunes.”

McSally, who represented part of Tucson’s urban fringe and a large swath of rural southeast Arizona for three terms in the House of Representatives, lost her first attempt at a Senate seat to Senator Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.

Governor Doug Ducey — also a Trump ally — then appointed McSally to serve in the seat left vacant by the August 2018 death of Senator John McCain. McSally’s appointment is effective until a special election Nov. 3 to determine who will serve the rest of McCain’s term, which ends in 2022.

The poll comes on the heels of a Fox News poll Sept. 2 that showed Kelly leading 56% to 39% and another Sept. 13 from CBS News that gave Kelly 49% and McSally 42%.

Both Kelly, who pulled Republican ballots until 2012, and McSally have drawn outside cash into a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

The Cook Political Report, a widely cited nonpartisan, nonprofit newsletter that analyzes U.S. elections, has the seat leaning Democratic. Arizona is the only GOP-held seat among 23 that Cook says leans toward a Democrat, although Cook labels races in Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana and North Carolina as toss-ups.

Among 12 Democratic Senate seats on the ballot in November, only the Alabama race between Senator Doug Jones and GOP challenger Tommy Tuberville leans Republican, Cook reported.

The OH poll shows voters have a more positive impression of Kelly than his Republican rival.

Just 44% of respondents said they have a somewhat or very favorable view of McSally, who has largely avoided facing voters in town hall or similar meetings while representing southern Arizona. She drew unfavorable or very unfavorable impressions from 51%, the poll showed.

More voters viewed Kelly favorably (54%), but fewer (37%) viewed him unfavorably.

OH Predictive Insights is an independent market research and polling firm based in Phoenix. The phone poll of 600 likely voters was taken Sept. 8-10 and has a margin of error of 4%.

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