Mark Kelly: First Space, Next the US Senate?

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The rumor-mill has generated chatter this week that Mark Kelly—veteran, astronaut, and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)—could make a run for Senate. He announced his retirement from NASA earlier this week, and posted on Facebook that he “will look at new opportunities” to once again “serve our country.”

With the coming retirement of Jon Kyl in 2012, there will be an open seat in Arizona available should Kelly decide to run. But this of course raises all kinds of questions about Giffords’ status and whether she will be able to run for reelection to her House seat, or possibly—circumstances permitting—run for Senate herself. If she isn’t able to run for reelection, Kelly could also run to fill her seat in the lower House.

In either case, he’d have a lot going for him. Spouses running to fill the seat of their partner have done pretty well in the past (usually when the partner dies, but in this case I think the sentiment would still transfer, given the tragic circumstances). Military vets also have a pretty good record, and astronauts have done pretty well for themselves, too. Before she was shot in January, Giffords’ was considered a likely candidate to run for Kyl’s seat, but since then, no other prime contender has really shaken out of the mix. Might Kelly be the next best choice?

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