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Senate hopeful Mark Kelly talks prescription drug prices, Sinema during Tucson visit

Senate hopeful Mark Kelly talks prescription drug prices, Sinema during Tucson visit

It wasn't your average campaign stop for Senate candidate Mark Kelly when he visited the El Pueblo Senior Center in Tucson Wednesday.

The Democratic hopeful talked with seniors about healthcare, his life as an astronaut and card games before agreeing to play an improvised handball game with one of the top-ranked handball players in the entire country - who happens to work for the city of Tucson at the El Pueblo Activity Center next door.

Kelly lost the improvised game to Abraham Montijo, who is currently ranked as the second-best outdoor pro handball player in the world, even after city staffers gave Kelly a racket to use.

The retired astronaut was graceful in his loss, even agreeing to an eventual rematch.

When sitting down with reporters after his game, Kelly said that Congress could do more to reduce the cost of prescription drugs - an issue that he was asked about by residents during his visit to Tucson's southside yesterday.

"There's a lot we can do as a country, especially when you consider Medicare Part D buys 30% of the medication that our country consumes. HHS should be able to reduce the price of those drugs," Kelly said. "It's currently prohibited for them to negotiate the price of prescription medication, but it doesn't have to be that way."

Asked about attempts to censure Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema by some Arizona Democrats who argue that she isn't standing up to President Trump, Kelly defended his would-be colleague.

"I think a Senator Sinema is trying to and is representing the state in a smart way," Kelly said. "I don't feel like she is - or should be - beholden to any specific group."

Kelly told reporters that he wouldn't be using Sinema as a role model to govern, even though he believes Arizona has a strong history of supporting members of Congress with an independent streak.

"My wife Gabby was an example when she was in the House of Representatives, where she was a moderate, who often crossed the aisle to get things done for Arizona. I've seen the same thing from Senator John McCain," Kelly said. "I think we've got a history of folks that serve in the US House and Senate that have shown a streak of independence at times. And I think that's important."

Kelly - a Democrat - could face Sen. Martha McSally next year as Arizona voters decide who should fill out the remainder of McCain's term.


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Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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