ICYMI: Unelected Senator McSally Facing Another “Bruising,” “Nasty” & “Expensive” GOP Primary in Arizona

Ugly primary “unwelcome news” as McSally lags Mark Kelly in fundraising, at risk of becoming “first Arizona Republican to lose not one but two Senate seats

Unelected Senator Martha McSally gained a new Republican primary opponent this week from a self-funding conservative businessman, Daniel McCarthy. With McSally trailing Navy veteran and former astronaut Mark Kelly in both fundraising and recent polling, and GOP operatives fretting about McSally’s vulnerability and admitting that “Arizona, in particular, will be tough” for Republicans to hold on to in 2020, a nasty and expensive primary was the last thing the unelected Senator needed.

“Despite pleading with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Washington Republicans to help her head off this new Republican challenger, unelected Senator Martha McSally appears to be in for yet another ‘bruising,’ ‘nasty,’ and ‘expensive’ primary battle,”said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “With GOP operatives already openly fretting about McSally’s weaknesses and Arizona slipping away in 2020, this primary creates another challenge for Republicans and whoever emerges from this mess will be deeply out of touch with Arizona voters.”

Learn more about the ugly primary taking shape in Arizona:

“As storm clouds rose over Arizona Wednesday, a potential political storm is developing within the state’s Republican Party. Daniel McCarthy, a political novice with a lot of money, announcing he is running against Senator Martha McSally in Arizona’s Republican primary.”

Arizona Republic: Sen. Martha McSally gets primary challenge from businessman Daniel McCarthy

  • Republican businessman Daniel McCarthy will run against incumbent Sen. Martha McSally for the GOP’s Senate nomination in 2020, dashing her hopes of averting a potentially nasty primary fight. 
  • Larry Sabato, the political scientist who directs the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said McCarthy could complicate McSally’s efforts to woo more moderate voters. 
  • “He can spend some bucks and he can make some damaging attacks, and all in all that’s bad news for her,” Sabato said. “He may drive her to the right while the Arizona electorate is clearly moderating” to a more purple status.
  • [McCarthy] has dubbed McSally the “unelected” senator from Arizona… 
  • McSally and her team had been hoping to avoid a primary challenge, which could prevent her from consolidating Republican support while forcing her further to the right, which could hurt her with the broader electorate in the general election.
  • It is unclear how much McCarthy intends to spend on the race, but his efforts could  force McSally to spend at least some off her campaign resources.
  • She is already lagging her apparent Democratic opponent, Kelly, who has raised $8.4 million compared to her $5.5 million through June.

Associated Press: McSally gets GOP primary challenger in Arizona Senate race

  • A Phoenix-area businessman said Wednesday he’ll challenge U.S. Sen. Martha McSally in the Republican primary, setting up a potential threat to GOP efforts to hold onto John McCain’s former Senate seat.
  • Daniel McCarthy, who founded a cosmetics company and real-estate brokerage with his wife, said he’s running because he doesn’t think McSally can beat likely Democratic nominee Mark Kelly, a former astronaut.
  • McSally, a former Air Force combat pilot, was appointed to the seat after losing to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in last year’s race to replace retiring Republican Jeff Flake. Her advisers have blamed her hard-fought primary as an important factor in her loss, which made Sinema the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate seat in three decades.
“McCarthy says that he is running because he doesn’t think McSally can beat the likely Democratic nominee Mark Kelly.”

The Hill: McSally gets new primary challenger

  • Daniel McCarthy, a Phoenix businessman, announced his challenge to Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), setting up a potentially bruising and expensive Republican primary in a state the GOP is eager to hold in 2020. 
  • McCarthy’s entrance into the race is likely to be unwelcome news for some Republican insiders, who see Arizona as a must-win state in 2020. The Phoenix businessman is independently wealthy, meaning he could pump millions of dollars of his personal fortune into his campaign.
  • McSally was appointed by Ducey to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), despite losing in the state’s 2018 Senate election against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. 
  • National Republicans have been lukewarm toward McSally, because of her 2018 loss to Sinema, but are also eager to avoid a potentially divisive primary contest.
  • Democrats, meanwhile, fielded a top-tier candidate in the state, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who has proven to be an adept fundraiser and carries significant clout in the state.

Wall Street Journal: Arizona Businessman Challenges McSally in Senate Primary

  • A Phoenix-area businessman will challenge Republican Sen. Martha McSally for the GOP nomination in Arizona, setting up a potentially bruising primary battle for one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents.
  • Daniel McCarthy announced on Wednesday that he will run against Ms. McSally. Mr. McCarthy, who founded the Phoenix-based MakeupEraser company, had flirted with a run for weeks, accusing Ms. McSally of lacking loyalty to President Trump and to conservative principles.
  • …Mr. McCarthy’s decision to jump into the race will force her to defend her right flank while also fighting off Democratic challengers, led by former astronaut Mark Kelly.


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