Oct 18, 2022 - Politics

The Kelly vs. Masters showdown could decide control of U.S. Senate

Photo illustration of Mark Kelly and Blake Master

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: Rebecca Noble, Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate is up for grabs in November and Arizona could decide which party controls Congress' upper chamber next year.

State of play: Former astronaut Mark Kelly won a special election in 2020 to serve out the final two years of the Republican Sen. John McCain's term after his death. That gave Democrats control of both of Arizona's Senate seats for the first time since 1952.

  • He's being challenged in his bid for a full term by Republican Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who worked for tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel and ran his nonprofit foundation.
  • Masters was endorsed by former President Trump in the GOP primary and has sought to tie Kelly to President Biden's record on border security and high inflation, while Kelly has portrayed Masters as too extreme on issues like abortion and Social Security.

Immigration and border security

Kelly: He has attempted to put some distance between himself and President Biden, opposing the White House's proposal to end Title 42, a Trump-era restriction initially implemented to restrict immigration over COVID-19 concerns.

  • Kelly also backed legislation that added $1 billion in funding for surveillance technology, barriers along the border and additional Border Patrol agents.
  • However, he voted against a Republican amendment that would have added 18,000 new agents to the Border Patrol.

Masters: Masters favors a stricter approach at the border. He wants to triple the size of the Border Patrol, finish the wall that Trump started, hire more immigration agents and magistrate judges to process deportations more quickly, and oppose policies that he labels "amnesty."


Kelly: He supports increased domestic oil production and has introduced legislation to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, and he touts his support for legislation aimed at increased microchip production in the U.S.

Masters: He pledges to reduce government spending, which he said will curb high inflation, and to encourage domestic oil production, including fracking, to reduce high energy costs.


Kelly: He supported legislation that would reinstate Roe v. Wade, which would guarantee abortion rights in the U.S. and allow states to prohibit abortions after the point of fetal viability, except when needed to protect the health or life of the mother.

Masters: During the Republican primary, Masters touted his anti-abortion credentials and voiced support for a fetal personhood law that would prohibit abortions nationwide.

  • Since the primary, he has shifted to support a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would emulate a state law passed earlier this year.

Zoom out: Both candidates have a number of other issues they're campaigning on.

Kelly: Touts his support for legislation to ban stock trading by members of Congress, reduce the cost of prescription drugs and lists combating climate change as a high priority.

Masters: Opposes what he views as big tech censorship against conservatives and supports pro-cryptocurrency policies.

  • Masters falsely claimed during the Republican primary that Trump won the 2020 election. He has since said that he's seen no evidence of fraud that affected the outcome but that Trump would have won were it not for big tech censorship of news that was damaging to Biden.

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