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What To Know About Martha McSally & The AZ GOP Senate Primary

Arizona Republicans to face a “scorched earth-primary battle,” “a costly…nasty August primary

Multiple outlets report that Congresswoman Martha McSally has told her colleagues – but not Arizonans – she will enter the GOP Senate primary, opening her campaign to even more criticism from the conservative groups that have already viciously opposed her candidacy. Her decision officially starts a “nasty” “scorched earth primary battle” amongst Arizona Republicans.   

From David Bergstein, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Spokesman: “Insider Republicans like Mitch McConnell have found their stalking horse, which is why her campaign has already been met with vicious opposition from conservatives. The GOP can expect exactly the same situation in Arizona they faced before Senator Flake’s retirement: an expensive and divisive primary fight that will drain their resources and leave their ultimate nominee deeply damaged.”

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT MCSALLY AND THE AZ GOP SENATE PRIMARY

  • U.S. News & World Report: McSally’s Campaign “Would Set Up Another Scorched-Earth Primary Battle,” “A Vicious Primary Fight.”  “Rep. Martha McSally is taking steps toward launching a challenge to Kelli Ward for Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat next year, a move that would set up another scorched-earth primary battle between establishment Republicans and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon… if McSally pulls the trigger on a campaign against Ward, it could set off another civil war reminiscent of the GOP Senate runoff in Alabama, in which Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange.” [U.S. News & World Report, 10/26/17]
    • Great America Alliance: McSally Run Will Bring The “Full Weight Of The President’s American First Movement To Come Down Upon Her Like A Ton Of Bricks.” “For Bannonites, a McSally candidacy would provoke a full-fledged intraparty war. ‘If the McConnell establishment runs another ‘Never Trumper’ in Arizona like Martha McSally, expect the full weight of the president’s America First movement to come down upon her like a ton of bricks,’ says Andy Surabian, an adviser to Trump-aligned advocacy organization the Great America Alliance and a close Bannon adviser.”  [U.S. News & World Report, 10/26/17]
  • Business Insider: McSally “Has A History Of Critical Comments Aimed at President Donald Trump.” [Business Insider, 10/28/17]
    • McSally Refused To Endorse Trump, Saying “That’s Just Not How Leaders Carry Themselves.” “McSally refused to make an endorsement during the presidential campaign, but said of Trump, ‘That’s just not how leaders carry themselves.’”  [Business Insider, 10/28/17]
    • McSally Called Trump’s Comments “Disgusting” And “Unacceptable.” “After the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape detonated, she dubbed Trump’s comments ‘disgusting’ and ‘unacceptable,’ but remained inscrutable about supporting him.”  [U.S. News & World Report, 10/26/17] 
    • McSally Called Trump’s Administration “Tremendously Bumpy.”  “During a town hall earlier this year, for instance, she called the early weeks of the administration ‘tremendously bumpy.’ ‘Some of their decisions and the way they have implemented them have certainly not been well coordinated, not well implemented,’ she said. ‘I’m concerned about distractions. I’m concerned about not shifting from campaigning to governing.’ ‘He’s our president. So what are we going to do about it?’  McSally said.”  [Business Insider, 10/28/17]
    • McSally Said Trump Would “Hand The Gavel To Pelosi In 2018.” “In a secretly taped recording posted this spring, McSally, who represents somewhat of a swing district in the state, said the current political environment ‘would have me not prevail’ and that ‘we’re going to hand the gavel to Pelosi in 2018,’ referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.” [Business Insider, 10/28/17]
  • CNN HEADLINE: Conservative groups to McSally: Stay out of Arizona’s Senate race. “Conservative groups are trying to scare Rep. Martha McSally away from Arizona’s Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake… her history of criticizing President Donald Trump made her the target of a show-of-force statement from conservative groups that spend heavily in GOP primaries, including the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks.” [CNN, 10/27/17]
    • New York Times: “McSally Has Also Drawn Opposition From A Coalition Of Conservative Advocacy Groups,” Including The Club For Growth. “McSally has also drawn opposition from a coalition of conservative advocacy groups, led by the Club for Growth. On Friday, the Club for Growth released a letter urging Matt Salmon, a former representative from Arizona, to jump into the race, calling Mr. Salmon ‘a proven, principled conservative.’  Mr. Salmon, who is now the chief lobbyist for Arizona State University, is considering it, a person close to him said.” [New York Times, 10/29/17]
  • Ward & McSally May Face Additional Additional Primary Opponents Including Former Congressman Matt Salmon, Fmr. AZ Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham, AZ Treasurer Jeff Dewitt and Longtime Lobbyist Jay Heiler. [New York Times, 10/29/17; The Hill, 10/25/17; Morning Consult, 10/26/17; KTAR, 10/26/17]

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