Mark Kelly's Been To Space. Can He Make it to Capitol Hill?

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Mark Kelly isn't the first former NASA astronaut to run for office, but if he's elected he'll be the only one to make it to Congress on his first shot.
Call him the cosmic candidate. At 56 years old, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has logged nearly two months in space as the pilot or commander of four space shuttle missions. After retiring from the astronaut corps in 2011, Kelly helped make history as the control subject in an unprecedented study on the way space affects the human body, in which his twin brother Scott spent a record-breaking 340 consecutive days in orbit. And now, the astronaut and Navy veteran is making waves after emerging as the frontrunner in a high-stakes race for one of Arizona's seats in the US Senate.

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The Arizona race is a special election to fill the vacancy left by John McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018. McCain's seat was filled by gubernatorial appointment until this November, when Arizonans will decide who will finish the final two years of his term. Kelly, a Democrat, announced his candidacy in early 2019, and sought to position himself as the independent voice of reason. "I'm running for the United States Senate because Washington is broken," Kelly wrote on his website. "Partisanship keeps politicians from finding solutions, and all of the money in our political system keeps politicians from being accountable to the people they're supposed to represent."

(His campaign did not respond to WIRED's requests for comment.)

If Kelly wins, he would…
Daniel Oberhaus
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