Democratic Senate contender Mark Kelly says 2020 winner should make Supreme Court pick

Mark Kelly is leading incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in polls

Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly says the next U.S. Supreme Court should be chosen by the winner of November's presidential election.

The former NASA astronaut told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad that a nomination shouldn't be made so close to Election Day, although President Trump has already done so.

Trump announced his selection of conservative Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday, sparking an outcry from Democrats after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leader of the court's liberal wing.

Senate Republicans have promised a vote on Barrett, whose appointment would cement a conservative majority on the court, despite refusing to consider a nomination from President Obama nine months before the 2016 election.

Kelly stopped short of saying whether he'd vote against Barrett if he were to win his special election and start his term early. Such a vote has been the subject of widespread speculation since it could narrow the path to approval for an already narrow Republican majority.

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“I don’t think Washington, D.C., should be rushing that pick through for political reasons,” Kelly said. “We are 34 days away from an election.”

President Trump walks along the White House Colonnade with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after nominating her to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Trump walks along the White House Colonnade with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after nominating her to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

While Democrats have blasted Barrett's record on health care, Kelly said her precedents in the U.S. Court of Appeals are beside the point.

“Regardless of the person he nominated, I don’t think this should be done now,” he asserted. "I think it should be in January … after Jan. 20, regardless of who the next president is. It should be that president.”

Nevertheless, Kelly said Barrett's appointment and confirmation would have an effect on Arizonans.

Kelly has been leading his Republican challenger, Sen. Martha McSally, in the polls for months. The Real Clear Politics Average has him up over five percentage points.

He's married to Gabrielle Giffords, a former U.S. congresswoman who became a gun control advocate after barely surviving a 2011 shooting that killed six people.

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Senate Republicans are gearing up for confirmation hearings in two weeks. A vote in the full chamber is now expected before Nov. 3.

Though lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have decried the process as "illegitimate," a bipartisan group of senators met with Barrett on Capitol Hill this week.