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Senator Mark Kelly visits UA during reelection campaign

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Mark Kelly speaking with supporters at the Phoenix launch of his U.S. Senate campaign at The Van Buren in Phoenix, Arizona. Courtesy Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly visited the University of Arizona to speak to students at an event hosted by Mission for Arizona on Monday, Oct. 31. 

As students walked around the UA Mall in Halloween costumes, members of the UA’s Mission for Arizona chapter were suited up in orange astronaut outfits to welcome former astronaut and current Arizona Senator. They passed out candy and pizza, as well as information about voting and volunteering to students. 

Kelly is a Democrat and has served as Arizona’s junior senator since 2020. He is running for reelection against Republican candidate Blake Masters. 

Mission for Arizona hosted the event to encourage students to vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections and promote the on-campus voting site, which is on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center in the Catalina Room. There, voters could cast ballots or drop them off during the early voting period. 

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Kelly spoke to about 70 students gathered on the Mall, briefly discussing his background and his accomplishments as a senator. 

“Two years ago you guys sent me to the Senate to just cut through the red tape and get things done for Arizona and our country,” Kelly said. 

Kelly highlighted his support for legislation on topics like microchip manufacturing, improving infrastructure and lowering the price of prescription drugs. He also discussed issues that will directly impact college students, like women’s healthcare rights and climate change. 

After making his positions clear, Kelly talked about his opponent, emphasizing Masters’ opposition to abortion rights and unwillingness to work across the aisle. 

Lastly, Kelly promoted the new voting center on campus and encouraged listeners to make their voices heard.

“We have a stronger democracy when more people vote,” Kelly said. 

Kelly especially emphasized the need for young people to participate in elections. 

“If you don’t vote, your ideas are not heard,” he said. “It’s really important that folks between the ages of 18 and 29 show up and vote. In general, that’s the group of people that show up the least and it’s not good for them.”

Kirsten Engel, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and former state Senator, was also present at the event. She encouraged students to vote as well and voiced her support for Kelly. 

“I am laser-focused on so many of the priorities that Senator Kelly is also focused on: protecting women’s fundamental freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, working on our environment and protecting things like social security and medicare,” Engel said.

Student volunteers like Jake Martin, a history sophomore, and Amrita Khalsa, a food studies senior, helped to facilitate the event.

“There’s so much on the line in this election that benefits college students: abortion access, access to health care, student loans,” Martin said. “So it’s really important that students make sure their voices are heard.”

Khalsa echoed Kelly’s statement about college students being a crucial voting demographic. 

“Students are a huge part of the electorate that don’t often participate,” Khalsa said. “A lot of people think that the government is broken and doesn’t work. I think that it might not work because people don’t participate.” 

“Elections are about consequences,” Kelly said. “And the choice between myself and my opponent should be pretty clear to people.”


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