Democrat Mark Kelly to be sworn in as US Senator, who flips Arizona seat from red to blue

While the election of other senators will have to wait until January for the new Congress to be sworn in, Kelly has been able to take the oath of office immediately since winning a special election. The swearing in will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Kelly is sworn in with his wife, former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords and their two daughters, a Kelly aide tells CNN. His twin brother, Scott Kelly and family friends will also attend.

As is typical, Kelly will first be sworn in on the Senate floor and fellow Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinima, also a Democrat, will be taken to the floor. Kelly’s family will be looking through the gallery looking at the floor of the Senate. Later, he would attend a formal swearing-in at the old Senate Chamber, where his family would be around him.

Party control of the Senate has still not been determined and now hinges on two of Georgia runoff scheduled for January. Securing a seat from Arizona is still a major win for Democrats, who set their sights on one of their starting top pickup opportunities in 2020.

The special election victory is a moment of victory for Kelly, a retired naval captain and NASA astronaut, who comes after the tragedy.

Kelly was brought to national headlines in 2011 when his wife, then-US Rep. Gabby Gifford of Arizona, was shot in the head and nearly killed, an incident that sent shock waves across the country.

He later turned into a political activist, launched a group called Responsible Solutions for Americans with his wife and fought for gun control policies such as universal background checks and so-called red flag laws.

“I’ve learned a lot from being an astronaut. I’ve learned a lot from being a pilot in the Navy,” Kelly said in his announcement video. “But what I’ve learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people’s lives.”

His entry into politics marked the beginning of a new chapter in an already respected career.

Kelly flew into space twice as a commander of a spacecraft twice. He and his identical twin, Scott Kelly, who is also an astronaut, participated in a “twin study” to see what spaceflight does to the human body.

Mark Kelly is also a retired naval captain and pilot who flew 39 combat missions in the first Gulf War.

After prevailing on McSally in a special election, he would serve Sen. John McCain’s term for the remainder of Sen’s two years. He will be able to run for reunion in 2022 to serve a full term.

McSally, the first female pilot of the Air Force to fly in combat, was assigned to fill the seat as she lost a race in 2018 to Sinima for Arizona’s other Senate seat.

Sending two Democrats to Washington would mark the first time in nearly 70 years for Arizona.

Democrats, long considered a conservative stronghold in the state, have encroached, but have become a high-level battleground. President-elect Joe Biden won another major victory for the Democratic Party in the state last month.

Mark Kelly, who will be sworn in as US Senator on Wednesday, and his wife, former Rep.  Gabby Giffords will visit the cemetery of the late Sen. John McCain in Annapolis, Maryland on Tuesday.

Kelly has said that it is very important for him to serve McCain’s remaining term, describing the late senator as someone he saw when he was a 22-year pilot in flight school.

On Tuesday, Kelly and Giffords visited McCain’s grave in Annapolis to pay their respects before being sworn in today.

“Kenneter McCain has been a hero of mine since I was a young pilot,” Kelly tweeted, “He left a legacy of service to Arizona and the country that cannot be matched, but we all should strive for it . “

Kelly has recently spoken to Cindy McCain and expressed a desire to use the McCain desk in her Senate office.

This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

Ali Zslav of CNN contributed to this report.


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