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McSally Launches Senate Run in Arizona

Congresswoman will likely face a contentious GOP primary

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally officially announced her Senate campaign Friday, kicking off what is likely to be a divisive Republican primary.

“Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” McSally said in a video announcement emphasizing her service in the Air Force. “I’m a fighter pilot and I talk like one. That’s why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”

“After taking on terrorists in combat, the liberals in the Senate won’t scare me one bit,” McSally says in the video.

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s retirement opened up the hotly contested seat. Democrats view Arizona as one of their few potential pickup opportunities in 2018. 

Watch: How the Open Seats Are (or Aren’t) Creating Opportunities in the House

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McSally will face state Sen. Kelli Ward, who had launched a challenge against Flake, and controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio in the GOP primary. Whoever wins will likely take on Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the top Democratic contender.

McSally told her House Republican colleagues late last year that she was planning to run for Senate. She was first elected to the House in 2014 from a swing district that includes parts of Tucson and stretches along the southern border with Mexico. She is a former Air Force pilot and the first woman to fly a fighter jet in combat.

Conservative groups had already begun criticizing her even before she jumped into the race.

The Club for Growth PAC and FreedomWorks announced in a joint statement in October that that they would oppose McSally’s candidacy if she ran, arguing she was not conservative enough for Arizona.

McSally has voted with the president’s priorities 100 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly’s Vote Watch study. Her presidential support is above the GOP average of supporting the president 95 percent of the time. 

McSally also highlighted Trump in her announcement video, showing video of the president saying, “My friend Martha McSally, she’s the real deal. She’s tough.”

Trump won Arizona by four points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Arizona Senate race a Toss-Up.

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