New Name Surfaces in Jeff Flake Senate Seat Race

Arizona Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally launched her bid on Friday to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake.

In her online ad announcing her candidacy, the Air Force veteran tells Arizonans, “Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses.”

“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,’” she adds. “Now, I am running for the Senate to fight the fights that must be won — on national security, economic security and border security.”

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

McSally, 51, was first elected to the House in 2014 in a district encompassing Tucson that was once represented by Democrat Gabby Giffords.

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The GOP congresswoman faced a tough re-election race in the swing district.

Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have endorsed former Democrat Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who gave up her seat in northern Arizona to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016. She has since moved to Tucson.

McSally, who was the first U.S. female fighter pilot to fly a combat mission, also spoke boldly in her launch ad about opposing Sharia law dictates being imposed on American service women while in the Middle East.

The Air Force Academy graduate successfully sued the Department of Defense in 2002 over a regulation requiring female soldiers to wear robes and head scarfs over their service uniforms off base.

“I absolutely refused to bow down to Sharia law,” she said. “After eight years of fighting, I won my battle for the religious freedom of American servicewomen.”

McSally is entering a hotly contested senate race, with former state senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio already in the run for the Republican nomination.

Some analysts believe Arpaio’s entry in the race just last week split the conservative vote, making a possible pathway for the more moderate McSally to secure the nomination.

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Congresswoman Krysten Sinema is highly favored to win on the Democrat side and face the GOP nominee in the fall.

The Cook Political Report, prior to McSally’s entry, rated the race for Flake’s seat a “toss-up.”

President Donald Trump won Arizona by 3.5 percent over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ward issued a release responding to McSally’s candidacy in which campaign chair Ed Rollins described the congresswoman as akin to Flake.

“Martha McSally is Jeff Flake 2.0 and part of the Washington Establishment that has failed Arizona for years,” said Rollins. “She opposed Donald Trump as a candidate and has undermined him as President, which is why leading conservatives are rejecting McSally and are lining up behind a true reformer in Dr. Kelli Ward.”

The Ward campaign also put out an anti-McSally ad called “Pretender” on Friday, which noted that the congresswoman never endorsed Trump for president.

The political website FiveThirtyEight found McSally has supported Trump’s agenda 96.7 percent of the time, including on such issues as tax reform, banning late term abortions and the federal funding of abortions, and repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Despite her recent voting record, high profile conservative groups have spoken in opposition to her Senate bid, including FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. All cited her votes while President Barack Obama was in office as reasons for their opposition, CNN reported last fall when word of a potential run circulated.

According to The Arizona Republic, the groups charged that McSally “masquerades as a conservative on the campaign trail but time and time again … has abandoned conservative principles.”

“Rep. McSally was one of the few Republicans who Barack Obama could routinely depend upon over the past few years,” added conservative activist Erick Erickson.

McSally had a 43 percent average on the conservative Heritage Action Scorecard during the last Congress, compared to a 63 percent overall for House Republicans.

Similarly, the representative garnered just 45 percent with Conservative Review‘s “Liberty Scorecard,” which is lower than Flake’s 57 percent. On McCain scored lower among the state’s congressional delegation at 35 percent.

The Republic reported last fall, McSally had the second highest level of support among possible Republican Senate candidates with approximately 19 percent to Ward’s 26 percent, with 28 percent undecided.

McSally flew herself around The Grand Canyon State on Friday announcing her candidacy in three of Arizona’s largest communities: Tucson, Phoenix and Prescott.

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