Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly defeats Republican Blake Masters to win reelection in Arizona

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona waves.
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona defeated Republican tech investor Blake Masters in one of the hardest-fought Senate races of 2022.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat, defeated Republican tech investor Blake Masters in one of the hardest-fought Senate races of the election season.

The race was called Friday by the Associated Press.

With the win in Arizona, Democrats are just one seat away from retaining their 50-seat majority in the Senate. The Nevada contest between Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and her GOP challenger, Adam Laxalt, remains too close to call, and a fellow Democratic incumbent, Sen. Raphael Warnock, will face off against Herschel Walker in a runoff in Georgia next month.

Republicans would need to win both races to claim control of the Senate.

Kelly, on his campaign Twitter account, posted a succinct reaction: “Thank you, Arizona.”


Masters did not comment on Twitter, but earlier in the evening he lashed out during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program at GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell and other establishment Republicans, calling them “incompetent” for not sufficiently supporting his campaign.

“Had he chosen to spend money in Arizona, this race would be over. We’d be celebrating a Senate majority right now,” Masters said.

Once consistently GOP territory, Arizona has stutter-stepped into battleground status in recent elections, siding with Joe Biden over President Trump by just over 10,000 votes two years ago. It has also been fertile ground for 2020 election conspiracy theories, creating a combustible political environment with multiple high-profile statewide races at stake.

Trump exerted significant pull in the Republican primaries, propelling his picks, including gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and secretary of state hopeful Mark Finchem, to the general election. AP declared Democrat Adrian Fontes the winner over Finchem on Friday.

Masters, a 36-year-old political novice, similarly owed his success in the primary to Trump’s endorsement, as well as ample financial backing from tech titan Peter Thiel. But his candidacy prompted concerns among the GOP establishment that his embrace of Trump’s election lies and a call to privatize Social Security would be a drag on his candidacy.


Kelly, who eked out a 2-percentage-point win in a special election in 2020, took advantage of Masters’ more extreme positions, including hard-line antiabortion stances and comments he made disparaging the military.

A former astronaut, Kelly entered politics several years after his wife, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), was wounded by a gunman in 2011.

Republicans sought to paint Kelly as a loyal ally of Biden, who has a dismal approval rating in Arizona. In Washington, he was a reliable Democratic vote — a contrast to his fellow Arizona Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who often upended her party’s agenda.

Still, Kelly, 58, sought to differentiate himself from Biden over immigration, criticizing the White House’s handling of security on the southern border.

The days-long suspense over the outcome of the race led Republicans to grouse about the slow counting of the ballots, particularly in Maricopa County. The Republican National Committee, as well as the state GOP, threatened legal action Friday if the county, the largest in the state, did not commence round-the-clock counting and more frequent updates of the results.

County officials countered by saying that multi-day counting is the norm in the state, given widespread use of mail-in ballots.


Kelly jumped out to an early lead in the vote tallying thanks to Democratic-leaning mail ballots, but Masters chipped into that deficit as votes cast on election day were counted. Masters’ performance lagged compared with that of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who trails Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state, by less than two percentage points.

The governor’s race remained uncalled as of Friday evening.

Reacting to Masters’ loss, Trump complained, baselessly, that the election was stolen from Masters — much as he did when he lost the presidential race two years ago.

“Do Election over again!” he inveighed on Truth Social, his social media network.