I have been a registered Republican almost all my adult life who has always been comfortable engaging with people across the aisle on issues I care about deeply. I am still a Republican. But in the U.S. Senate election for Arizona, I won’t be supporting a Republican. I am supporting Democrat Mark Kelly.
To me, Mark represents the type of leadership that is becoming increasingly rare in Washington: he’s an independent thinker, focused on helping his constituents regardless of party, and is a veteran. Experience tells me that these are the type of leaders who get things done. I have spent over 25 years of my life working to get things done to make our communities healthier and safer. Mark Kelly will be a true partner in that work.
In October 1994, my life was irrevocably changed. My younger brother, an off-duty Rochester, Michigan, police officer, was ambushed and killed at the hands of a violent gunman. Adam was 27 years old; an Air Force veteran of the Gulf War. He left behind a wife who was five months pregnant and an 18-month old daughter.
The trauma of his murder left me reeling and questioning my privileged suburban life — I realized anyone can be touched by violence. The following spring, I saw an advertisement in The Arizona Republic for the Brady Campaign asking for volunteers. I called and was eventually connected with Sarah Brady, who invited me to Washington D.C. to meet with our elected officials. It was the first time I told senators my survivor story, and why we need to make sure our laws prevent firearms from being in the wrong hands.
The late Sen. John McCain was there in that Senate hearing room to listen to my testimony. We spoke about expanding the Brady Bill, which had been passed in early 1994, to protect Americans. Like me, McCain was a Republican who was concerned about making Arizona’s communities safer and was willing to talk across the aisle to look for solutions. John McCain was a man of honor, and he served our country with conviction.
Upon returning to Arizona, I founded a nonprofit, bipartisan group dedicated to fighting gun violence. We worked closely with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords when she was a state legislator – she sponsored bills protecting Arizonans from gun violence. In time, I met Mark Kelly.
Mark is a man of integrity and, importantly, he is a problem solver — he approaches issues from a practical point of view. He is not afraid to speak truth to power, unlike his opponent. Martha McSally has spent too much time and energy looking for ways to excuse President Trump’s behavior.
As a mother, a grandmother and a woman of faith, I believe Trump has deeply weakened the moral integrity of our country. We need leaders who will stand up for what is right — to tell us the hard truth, no matter what party they belong to.
Right now, our country is divided. We are sicker, we are poorer, and we are weaker in the eyes of the world. We need strong leaders who will rebuild our economy, fix health care, and protect Social Security, Medicare and the environment. We need to send people to Washington who can look for bipartisan solutions to the problems we face. I know that Mark will do that as senator.
In this election, we need to elect a senator worthy of filling the seat that belonged to John McCain — McSally is not worthy of that seat. Mark Kelly is.
So I’m calling on my fellow Republicans – it’s clear that Martha McSally will not be a senator for Arizonans and will not look for bipartisan solutions to the challenges we face today. Vote for Mark Kelly and send a real public servant to the Senate — a leader who will look out for Arizonans.
Geraldine Hills is the founder and president of Arizonans for Gun Safety.