With Senate again up for grabs, 2022 already a multimillion-dollar race

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., won a special election last year to replace the late Sen. John McCain in what became the most expensive campaign in state history. With the seat up again in 2022, and control of the Senate at stake, Kelly is already fundraising heavily for a race that has drawn a number of Republican challangers. /Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

By Brooke Newman |Cronkite News

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly has a huge fundraising lead over potential challengers to his 2022 re-election bid, but analysts say that’s still no guarantee in a campaign where both parties are fighting to take control of an evenly divided Senate.

Kelly, a Democrat, reported raising $10.4 million in the first six months of this year, with $7.6 million in cash on hand as of June 30, according to his latest Federal Election Commission filings. His closest Republican challenger reported raising $2.2 million – $2 million of which was a loan – while two other potential rivals reported raising more than $400,000.

But while one analyst called Kelly “a fundraising machine,” others say he can still expect a tough challenge as Republicans aim to take back the seat they lost in 2020.

“This race is going to be even more important given the 50/50 split in the Senate,” said Mike Noble, chief of research for OH Predictive Insights. “Democrats really want to hold it (Kelly’s seat) and Republicans really want to get it back.”

The FEC reports follow a 2020 race that was the most expensive in state history, as Kelly unseated GOP Sen. Martha McSally to give Arizona two Democratic senators for the first time in decades. It was a special election to fill the seat held by the late Sen. John McCain, whose term only runs through 2022, when Kelly will have to seek re-election.

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