Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will face off against Republican challenger Blake Masters in a debate Thursday night hosted by Arizona PBS.
Kelly, a freshman senator, is running for a full six-year term after serving only two years for winning a special election back in 2020. Masters, a venture capitalist has the backing of former President Donald Trump.
The race is one of a handful nationwide that will decide whether Republicans can reclaim the majority in the Senate.
The debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT/6 p.m. PT. and is being livestreamed here,
U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly and challenger Blake Masters are set to meet Thursday night for an hourlong debate on Arizona PBS.
Kelly, a Democrat, was elected in 2020 to serve out the term of the late Sen. John McCain. Kelly is seeking his first full six-year term. Masters is a Republican and protege of entrepreneur and political megadonor Peter Thiel.
The election is Nov. 8, and early voting begins Oct. 12.
The debate will begin at 6 p.m. and also includes Libertarian Marc Victor. It will air statewide on Arizona PBS, other television and radio outlets and online at azpbs.org and azcentral.com. The debate will be moderated by "Arizona Horizon" host Ted Simons.
- Arizona Republic
Tens of millions already poured into race
Arizona's U.S. Senate race is seen as one of the most important in the country, one that will help decide who runs Congress' upper chamber.
The chamber is split 50-50 but Democrats hold the majority by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris' authority to cast tie-breaking vote. (The vice president also serves as president of the Senate).
Outside groups have already spent tens of millions in the race in an effort to define the candidates on TV and cellphone screens. That makes it harder for a debate to truly surprise viewers or define those taking part.
"Kelly is the more professional politician at this stage, having been in the Senate for a while, and also his previous work with the (gun-control advocacy group) Giffords organization. He's probably more polished and less likely to make mistakes," said Barbara Norrander, a political science professor at the University of Arizona.
- Ronald J. Hansen, Arizona Republic
Suffolk poll: Kelly leading Masters by seven points thanks partly to abortion
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly (49%) leads Republican challenger Blake Masters (42%) in a Suffolk University poll released last week.
Libertarian Marc Victor is pulling 2%, according to Suffolk, while another 7% say they are undecided.
Kelly's seven-point lead over Masters is driven by women (55%-35%) and independents (51%-36%), the poll found, while Masters leads 50%-42% among men.
"The importance of abortion rights in Arizona shouldn't be underestimated," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "In fact, independent women are voting on this issue with almost the same intensity as Democratic men."
When voters were asked to assign on a 1-10 scale how much their views on abortion will impact which candidates they will select in November, 49% of independent women gave it the highest rating, compared to 50% of Democratic men. Just 26% of independent men gave it a rating of "10," while 72% of Democratic women gave it the highest rating.
- Ledyard King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Live updates: Kelly and Masters clash in Arizona Senate debate