You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Five takeaways from Arizona Senate debate between Mark Kelly and Blake Masters

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/7/2022 Virginia Aabram

Arizona Senate candidates Blake Masters (R) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D) met Thursday night for their first and only debate that saw abortion, voting, and the economy take center stage.

The candidates grilled each other on their willingness to work across the aisle and accused one another of being too extreme and out of the mainstream on abortion policy. Here are five notable moments from the debate.


Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, left, Republican challenger Blake Masters, right, and Libertarian Marc Victor, back. Ross D. Franklin/AP © Provided by Washington Examiner Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, left, Republican challenger Blake Masters, right, and Libertarian Marc Victor, back. Ross D. Franklin/AP

1. Masters frames election around economy — Kelly focuses on abortion

In his opening statement, Masters immediately focused on inflation and the struggling economy that the majority of voters have ranked as their top concerns heading into the midterm election next month.

"Everything you need to live keeps going up and up. It wasn't like this two years ago. What changed?" he asked. "Well, Joe Biden took over, and in Washington, Mark Kelly backs Joe Biden every single time without thinking twice, without thinking of Arizona."

Kelly also acknowledged the economy but pivoted to Masters' "dangerous" ideas about abortion and entitlements.

"Blake Masters, my opponent, on the other hand, has some beliefs that are just dangerous for Arizona," Kelly said. "He celebrated when Arizona enacted an abortion ban, and he wants to privatize your Social Security, sending your savings to Wall Street."

Later on, he came back to the state's 15-week abortion ban that was enacted last year, saying, "Arizona women have totally lost the right to make a decision about abortion. It's devastating. It's wrong. It's exactly what my opponent Blake Masters wants."

2. Kelly touts bipartisanship and distances himself from Biden

Kelly distanced himself from President Joe Biden's border policy, proudly recalling how he is not in lockstep with the administration just because they share a party.

"I told him he was wrong. I pushed back on this administration multiple times," he said.

"The only way you can do this is through bipartisanship," Kelly said. "It's working together, working across the aisle to get things done like [late Republican Sen.] John McCain did. You know my opponent, Blake Masters — he doesn't want to work with anybody. He doesn't want to work with Republicans. You know, he calls Democrats psychopaths and that they're evil. That's not been the spirit of how Arizona senators work to the benefit of our state."

Masters responded that teaming up with centrist Democrats such as Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is possible, but he wouldn't be able to work with progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

"There's something very wrong with people who don't want to enforce federal law, who don't believe in borders," he said.

3. Kelly and Masters refuse to give concrete answers about abortion limits

Both candidates were particularly evasive when it came to answering questions on abortion. Kelly suggested that only a woman can decide to terminate a pregnancy even if the moment of birth is near. Masters was shifty in his response about if he would always support a 15-week ban and flipped the script on Kelly by calling out his position as the radical one.

"I'm pro-life and that means I believe in limits. Now I support exceptions because I don't believe in being extreme on this issue. Sen. Mark Kelly is the abortion radical," Masters said. "Sen. Kelly, in Washington, he voted — no, actually he sponsored — a bill that would have mandated legal abortion nationwide — get this — up until the moment of birth. Take a second to think about how truly radical that is."

"That's evasion!" libertarian Marc Victor, who was the third candidate on the debate stage, chimed in on Masters dodging the abortion question.

Kelly countered that what Masters said about his bill is untrue but added, "Late-term abortion in this country only happens when there's a serious problem, and that's what I support."

Abortion is a top hurdle for Republican candidates in swing states to overcome after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, returning the issue to the states and the legislative branch.

4. Masters attributes Biden's 2020 win to collusion between Big Tech and the FBI

When pressed about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump claimed was stolen from him, Masters first responded that Biden was "duly sworn and certified."

"I'm not trying to trick you. He's duly sworn and certified. He's the legitimate president," he said. "He's in the White House, unfortunately for all of us."

He continued, "Was [the election] rigged in any way, shape, or form enough to keep Donald Trump out of the White House? I suspect that if the FBI didn't work with Big Tech and big media to censor the Hunter Biden info or the Hunter Biden crime story? Yeah, I suspect that changed a lot of people's votes," but he specified that he hasn't seen any evidence of voter fraud similar to Trump's claims

5. Masters vows to root out the 'rot' of wokeness in the military

On the topic of the military, Masters said he would purge the armed forces of gender ideology and critical race theory. He blasted former President Barack Obama's leadership changes in the military that he said took good apolitical generals out of power in favor of liberals.

"I won't tolerate that," he said. "It should be focused on lethality and projecting force to defend America and her allies. Our service members who wear the cloth of the nation demand no less, they deserve no less, and when I'm in the Senate, I'm going to work with Tom Cotton to get rid of this wokeness. ... It's a rot in so much of our military, and our troops deserve way better."

Kelly accused Masters of disrespecting the military because of his criticisms, to which Masters shot back that his internal polls show that 57% of Arizona veterans and 72% of the state's active duty military members support him instead of the incumbent.


Early voting begins on Oct. 12 in Arizona. Masters has been trailing Kelly in fundraising and the polls and is rallying with Trump on Sunday.


Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: Midterms 2022, Arizona Senate, Blake Masters, Mark Kelly, Debates, Abortion

Original Author: Virginia Aabram

Original Location: Five takeaways from Arizona Senate debate between Mark Kelly and Blake Masters


More from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon