As Expected, Kelli Ward Is “Tanking” As Arizona GOP Chair & Fundraising Is Plummeting Ahead of 2020 Senate Race

Kelli Ward’s new position as chair the “fractured” Arizona GOP is an ongoing headache for unelected Senator Martha McSally as she gears up for 2020, and it’s already hurting resources – just as expected – for Republican efforts to hold McSally’s appointed seat. The fundraising setbacks for Arizona Republicans under Ward’s fringe leadership come just as Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut, doubled McSally’s fundraising in the first quarter of 2019 and started the race with $1 million more cash on hand.


Arizona Republic: Why did Arizona Republican Party fundraising plummet under Kelli Ward?

Ronald J. Hansen and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

Key Points:

  • Contributions to the Arizona Republican Party this year have skidded to their lowest level in at least 18 years, leading the organization to burn through most of its cash, new campaign finance records show.
  • That’s problematic for a party that finds itself rebuilding after a series of campaign losses last year and ahead of next year’s Senate contest, which is expected to be among the fiercest battles in the country.
  • Ward’s far-right politics and the many controversies linked to her two cash-strapped insurgent Senate runs in 2016 — against incumbent Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — and 2018 — against then-Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — gave some elected Republicans and party activists concern that she would guide the party into similar trouble in 2020.
  • Her associations with controversial figures on the right, such as Paul Nehlen, a self-described “Pro-White” Wisconsin congressional candidate who was disavowed by the GOP, and conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones of She drew negative headlines around the nation after she suggested last year that a statement by McCain’s family about ending treatment for brain cancer was timed to interfere with her Senate campaign’s momentum. He died hours after her comment.
  • At least for now, it appears GOP benefactors have closed their wallets to the state party under Ward’s leadership.
  • “She made a point that it was going to be a radical change from the status quo, and … it’s just the wrong way,” [Wes Gullett, a GOP consultant] said. “Institutional funders, for Republicans anyway, they like stability. …The establishment holds the money and they’re holding it close and are waiting to see what she’s going to be like.”
  • The party’s cash reserves have fallen from $416,000 at the beginning of January to $56,000 by the end of March. Much of the money was spent on personnel, consulting and canvassing fees. The records show that the party under Ward has put on the payroll a woman with a history of writing racist and homophobic comments.

Arizona Republic (Opinion): Kelli Ward is tanking as Arizona GOP chief. What a surprise

Laurie Roberts

Key Points:

  • Not even four months into the job and state GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward already has run the party into the ground.
  • Big money donors recognize that the GOP’s new state leader – having just been rejected by Arizona voters for the second time – has zero chance of leading the party anywhere other than to extinction.
  • What the Republican Party in Arizona so desperately needs is someone who can appeal to moderate Republicans and independents – the ones who sent a Democrat to the Senate last year for the first time in three decades. What it got, instead, was a tin-earred fanatic who thinks tin foil is fashionable head wear.
  • Short term, Ward at the helm makes the state Republican Party a one-woman disaster area.
  • This is a party that desperately needs to figure out how to recapture roughly 200,000 voters – the ones who in 2018 voted for GOP Gov. Doug Ducey then skipped over Republican Martha McSally to put Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate.
  • Ward’s chances of attracting a single one of those voters? I’d guess we’re more likely to see one of those Obama-conjured hurricanes sweeping through the state.


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