Arizona’s Mark Kelly will be sworn in as the newest Democratic senator Wednesday, after winning the special election filling out the term of John McCain.
Kelly’s victory in the Grand Canyon State was almost as sweet as Joe Biden’s win there. Kelly won with 51.2% of the vote, a margin of 78,806. Appointed Senator Martha McSally now has lost races for both of Arizona’s Senate seats. This is the first time since 1953 that the state has had two Democratic senators.
The swearing in of Kelly will give Democrats a boost in numbers from the 47 members who currently align with Democrats. Whether this will have any practical effect for the chamber may depend on how many members are present to vote. There is a possibility Mitch McConnell will try to sneak in the confirmation of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve before Kelly takes the oath at noon.
Chuck Grassley of Iowa is returning to the Senate after testing positive for Covid-19 but showing no symptoms. Senator Scott of Florida was also out for a time after testing positive
Grassley was one of several members of Congress who tested positive in recent weeks. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., announced that he had tested positive two days after Grassley. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is competing in a Senate runoff in Georgia, later announced that she had tested positive and then negative.
When Kamala Harris takes office as Vice President on January 20, it will mean she can break ties in favor of the Democratic side. However, the big remaining question is the outcome of the two runoff elections for Senator in Georgia.
A former astronaut, Kelly flew four space shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011. He also served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy and is married to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was shot in the head and severely wounded during a 2011 shooting at a meet-and-greet event in Tucson. In the wake of the shooting, Giffords has become an advocate for gun control.