Mark Kelly apologizes for joke some called racist

FILE- In this Oct. 2, 2017, file photo former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., right, listens as her husband Mark Kelly, left, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Kelly is kicking off his U.S. Senate campaign Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, with a rally in Tucson (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly has apologized for what some have called an offensive comment he made in 2018 while speaking to a Boy Scouts group. The Democrat candidate from Arizona made the comment while referencing his brother, astronaut Scott Kelly. During the question and answer portion of the event, Kelly was asked if he thought Mars would ever be colonized. Scott Kelly spent a year in space, and the experience caused physiological changes and altered his DNA. 

The recently released video shows Kelly saying, “I think the word hasn’t gotten out how bad it is for him. You know, it’s gotten so bad that we recently had to release him back into the wild. He’s like halfway between an orangutan and a Howler Monkey. We’ve even changed his name to Rodrigo. He lives in the woods. He lives in Eagle Rock Reservation.”

Moses Sanchez posted a video of Kelly at the speaking engagement on Twitter. Sanchez had an unsuccessful run for Mayor of Phoenix in 2018.

“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,” Sanchez wrote.

When asked by the Arizona Republic to comment, Kelly stated, “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.”

Several people came to his defense in subsequent tweets. One person said, “He has answered it, accepted responsibility, and given a genuine and retrospective apology… next.” 

Another Twitter user responded, “There are people named Rodrigo all over the world. Who’s is offended by this?

Kelly is currently in a close Senate race against Republican Martha McSally.