Arizona Senate Race: Kelly beats Masters in key matchup – USA TODAY

Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly defeated Republican challenger Blake Masters in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona, a relief to the Democratic Party, which is trying to keep the GOP from retaking the upper chamber of Congress. 

The race’s outcome was announced late Friday, days after the election itself, as voters and party leaders anxiously awaited ballot counting to conclude in key juggernauts like Maricopa County which encompasses the Phoeniz metro area. Arizona election officials had warned that it was likely a winner might not be projected election night, as was the case during the 2020 presidential contest. 

Kelly was running to serve a full six-year term as senator after winning a special election in 2020, while Masters comes from the world of venture capitalism and won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

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Arizona, a key battleground state, has taken center stage this midterm cycle. After sending its electoral votes to Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, both Democrats and Republicans view the state as up for grabs.

The fight for influence at the federal and local level has played out in closely fought races for governor, secretary of state and senator. 

The Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats control the chamber through Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to cast tie-breaking votes.

Throughout the campaign, Kelly held a slight lead in the polls over Masters, with many voters counting immigration and abortion their top issues. 

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The candidates are diametrically opposed on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, with Kelly promising to codify the recently overturned Roe v. Wade and Masters voicing support for a nation-wide 15 week abortion ban. 

A former astronaut, Kelly campaigned heavily on support for abortion access — a strategy shared by many of his Democratic colleagues running for office around the country.

On immigration, both Kelly and Masters want more regulation, though Masters has taken a hard-line approach, vowing to finish former president Trump’s border wall. 

Kelly’s campaign strategy relied heavily on positioning himself as a moderate who isn’t afraid to break ranks with Democratic leadership to assert his independence. Notably, he has voted with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., 96% of the time. 

Kelly and Masters debate recap: Where the candidates stand on immigration, abortion, other major issues