Dr. Kelli Ward, one of the three Republican candidates vying to take the seat of outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told a rowdy crowd in north Phoenix on Friday that the pro-Trump, anti-establishment candidate in the race could not be clearer.
“I’m running against the entire establishment, the entire swamp,” Ward said ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary. “All the people that tried to stop Donald Trump from getting to Washington, D.C., don’t want me there.”
She likened her outsider’s status in the race to those of Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah when they first sought office.
Ward, a former state senator, said the D.C. insiders “are spending millions of dollars into this race hoping they can buy a pet senator. They want one like we already have. I’m sorry, they have not been doing the job” — a reference to Flake and Sen. John McCain, both of whom have been strong critics of Trump.
Ward resigned her Arizona senate seat to challenge McCain for the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate nomination. She garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote in a field of four candidates to McCain’s 52 percent, which was his lowest re-election bid tally.
She is currently on a bus tour of the state of Arizona, which started Friday morning in her hometown of Lake Havasu City in the north making her way down to Phoenix and then on to Tucson and Yuma in the south by Saturday evening.
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) August 25, 2018
The GOP candidate pointed out at her north Phoenix rally that her decision to challenge incumbent Flake apparently is what prompted him, at least in part, not to seek re-election, as early polling showed her leading in the match-up by double-digits.
Polling in the current contest shows U.S. Rep. Martha McSally ahead of Ward by single digits, with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailing in third.
The Ward campaign is counting on its ground game to make up the difference. Campaign manager Shawn Dow told The Western Journal the Ward supporters and staff had made over 300,000 calls in the Grand Canyon State and knocked on more than 50,000 doors.
Fox News personality Tomi Lahren told Friday’s rally attendees that Ward is the best choice for Arizona.
“What is going on with your state?” Lahren asked. “This is a great state, with great people. It’s supposed to be a red state, a Republican state, but for too long you’ve had representatives who call themselves Republicans, but they’re anything but.”
“The special interests are all in the corner of McSally. She’s got the support of all the RINOs,” Lahren added. “She doesn’t put America first. She sees which way the wind blows, and that’s what she follows.”
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) August 25, 2018
In talking to attendees before the rally, a common theme was a feeling that McSally would be similar to Flake.
“I’m afraid she might turn into another Jeff Flake if she gets in,” Craig from Scottsdale told The Western Journal, while his wife, Laurie, said she likes Ward because “she is the person that would support Trump and his policies.”
Christian Lamar said he does not appreciate how negative Flake has been toward Trump. “The problem he presents is publicly discrediting the president,” he argued.
Lamar also found it telling that McSally has been endorsed by moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
“I will go campaign in states where there are open seats, like Arizona,” Collins told Politico earlier this month. Asked about Ward and Arpaio, she replied: “Let me rephrase that. I would campaign for Martha McSally.”
The Mitch McConnell-aligned National Republican Senatorial Committee asked Trump to endorse McSally, which to this point he has not done.
The Arizona Republic also reported that the McConnell/Karl Rove-affiliated One Nation nonprofit has spent at least a half-million dollars in advertising on behalf of McSally in the contest.
The Western Journal asked Ward why she would be the better ally for Trump in the Senate, given that McSally has been one of the president’s most reliable votes, despite her more liberal voting record while Barack Obama was in the Oval Office.
“I say look at the history,” Ward replied. “I’ve attended at least five Trump rallies starting back in 2015. I’ve never seen Martha at one. I attended the RNC convention when Trump was the nominee. … Martha, Jeff and John all boycotted and said they didn’t know who they were going to vote for.”
“Martha still hasn’t admitted who she voted for,” Ward added. “If Trump truly wants an ally, he has to know it is not Martha McSally.”
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