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McSally campaign ad confuses Mark Kelly with twin brother

Arizona Republican not keeping careful watch on Democratic Senate campaigner

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This isn't Mark Kelly, but Martha McSally thinks it is. - screenshot from McSally ad

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U.S. Sen. Martha McSally's latest commercial attempts to contrast herself with her Democratic opponent, but mistakenly uses a counterfeit "Counterfeit Kelly" — featuring Mark Kelly's twin brother instead.

"If you want smiles and a sales pitch, you've got a guy," McSally's script read, displaying a photograph of a grinning Kelly brother posing with a thumbs-up gesture, showing off a chunky watch on his wrist.

"But if you want a fighter, I'm your girl," said the appointed Republican senator in a voice-over, as video showed her striding in slow-motion in a flightsuit decked out with non-military patches as she implicitly referenced her Air Force service.

The Kelly in the photograph, however, isn't Mark Kelly, former Navy fighter pilot and astronaut, husband of ex-congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and a familiar enough face from a cascade of Senate campaign ads.

It's his brother Scott — also a former astronaut, but not a political candidate.

The two brothers were photographed at a February 2018 promotional event for Breitling watches — both Mark and Scott Kelly have been paid endorsers of the pricey timepieces, in part because of the brand's long connection with NASA astronauts.

Scott Kelly brought a pair of the watches with him on his record-setting 8,168-hour mission on the International Space Station.

McSally, who rarely looked in the direction of her opponent in their single debate during this campaign, instead looked at the cameras and repeated a manufactured nickname for Kelly throughout it so many times that it lost its intended impact and became a bit of a running joke. "Counterfeit Kelly," she called him about a dozen times in the 90-minute back-and-forth.

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But the setup for a series of campaign attacks was probably not meant to lay the foundation for McSally's attempt to pass off a substitute Kelly of her own, in an ad titled "Service Before Self."

The promo event for the luxury watch brand was photographed by numerous photo agencies, with the two brothers correctly identified in pictures being sold by several stock photo services. A handful of photos in one stock platform incorrectly ID individual picture of Scott Kelly as being of his brother.

The Kelly brothers do look very much alike, even though Scott's year-long space mission led to his DNA being 7 percent different than his twin brother's. But there are differences in stances and facial expressions that help people tell them apart.

Neither the McSally nor Kelly campaigns responded to TucsonSentinel.com's questions about the commercial. Neither campaign played a role in raising the issue of the misidentification of Kelly.

Campaigning bumbles have become a bit of McSally's stock-in-trade.

Using the wrong photo in a campaign ad is the latest in a long series of flubs by Team McSally, which range from extensive and repeated violations of campaign finance laws over the years, to attempting to pump up support for deploying troops on the border in an ad featuring a Ukrainian military photo, to a staffer neglecting to change to a personal Facebook account before posting praise for a political appearance, as well as showcasing a former Norwegian air force jet painted up in U.S. Air Force insignia in another recent commercial. That plane was also included in McSally's ad that ended with the Kelly error.

In August, in yet another unforced error, as the University of Arizona's iconic former basketball coach was in hospice, McSally tweeted prayers for "Luke Olson and his family."

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