Footage has emerged of Democratic Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly telling a racist joke in 2018.
As a Friday article from the Washington Examiner explained, the former astronaut and Trump critic made the comments at a paid speaking engagement in New Jersey.
Kelly jokes about his brother
When asked about the possibility that Mars might one day be colonized, Kelly began describing changes that his brother, who also served as an astronaut, underwent during a long-term space mission.
“I think the word hasn’t gotten out how bad it is for him,” Kelly told the crowd. “It’s gotten so bad that we had to recently release him back into the wild.”
Kelly went on to say that his brother was “like, halfway between, like, an orangutan and a howler monkey,” adding, “We even changed his name to ‘Rodrigo.’”
The video was posted to social media by Navy veteran Moses Sanchez, who immigrated from Panama as a child. He tweeted, “Shameful video of Mark Kelly making a racist joke to an all-white crowd. He must think people named Rodrigo look like monkeys,” Sanchez continued. “Time to move past this type of racism & time for the media to scrutinize Mark Kelly more thoroughly like they would a Republican.”
Shameful video of Mark Kelly making a racist joke to an all-white crowd. He must think people named Rodrigo look like monkeys. Time to move past this type of racism & time for the media to scrutinize Mark Kelly more thoroughly like they would a Republican https://t.co/uqprgs7CBc
— Moses Sanchez (@SanchezMoses) September 10, 2020
Kelly apologizes, “deeply” regrets comment
The Democratic candidate offered an apology for his remarks when asked about them on Thursday by The Arizona Republic.
“My brother’s year in space was really hard on him and we tried to bring some light to his difficult ordeal, but this comment does not do that and I apologize and deeply regret it,” Kelly told the paper.
Kelly is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2019 to replace Sen. Jon Kyle. Kyle himself had been appointed in 2018 following the death of Sen. John McCain.
A 22-year Air Force veteran and former congresswoman, McSally lost her 2018 Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by a narrow 56 thousand vote margin.
Polls have consistently showed Kelly leading Arizona’s Senate race, with RealClearPolitics giving him a 9.8 percent advantage in its most recent polling average.