More on announcement:
McSally enters an already-volatile race.
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, a twoterm Republican from Tucson and former Air Force combat pilot, on Friday officially entered an already volatile race for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat, setting the GOP field for the drive to the Aug. 28 primary.
In a video posted to YouTube Friday morning, McSally plays up her Air Force background, including being the first female pilot to fight in combat, and presents herself as a member of Congress who gets things done in an age of gridlock.
She also signals her intent to align herself with President Donald Trump — in tone and policy — whose backing could be crucial in the Republican primary.
“Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” she says on the video. “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. Now I’m running for the Senate to fight the fights that must be won.”
Later Friday morning, McSally, 51, kicked off campaigning with an appearance at an air hangar in her hometown of Tucson. There McSally again traced her military career, including her combat duty and challenges to Pentagon rules regarding clothing for women in the Middle East.
“I don’t sit quietly and I don’t scare easily,” she told the crowd.
“Arizona, you have my word. On any issue of taxes, standing, regulation or security, I will always be a voice and a vote for the working people of Arizona I represent.”
McSally’s Senate bid had been widely anticipated from almost the moment on Oct. 24 that incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced he would retire rather than face re-election this year.
But the race’s dynamics took a turn earlier this week with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s announcement that he also is seeking the Republican nomination.
The three-way primary race pits McSally, the favorite of the traditional GOP establishment, against Arpaio of Fountain Hills and Kelli Ward, a former state senator from Lake Havasu City, both of whom will be battling to win the party’s conservative base.
With control of the narrowly divided Senate at stake, the competition to replace Flake could become one of the year’s national marquee races.
At her Tucson event, a T-6 fighter plane used in World War II by the Women Airforce Service Pilots was positioned behind the stage. It was intended as a reminder of McSally’s military emphasis as well as her second bill in Congress that was signed into law. That 2016 bill restored the WASP’s right to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
McSally planned to fly in the vintage T-6 to campaign events Friday at a hangar in Phoenix and at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott. The late former five-term U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and six-term senior U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., both launched campaigns from the county’s historic courthouse steps.
Like McCain and Flake in recent campaigns, McSally likely will have to run to the right in the primary and, if she prevails, pivot toward the political center for what most observers expect would be a tough general-election campaign against U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, DAriz., the well-funded front-runner in the Democratic Senate primary.
Since Flake’s surprise retirement announcement, McSally has sought to raise her profile by piling up appearances on Fox News and has posted on social media pictures of herself with Trump, whom she avoided discussing throughout the 2016 elections and for months more after he entered the White House.
Earlier this week, she was seated near Trump at his hourlong public discussion with congressional Democrats and Republicans of immigration and border-security issues. On Wednesday, she helped introduce a hard-line border-security and immigration bill that the White House said “would accomplish the president’s core priorities for the American people.”
McSally’s announcement video included a clip of Trump praising his “friend” McSally as “the real deal” and “tough.”
“I’m partnering with the president,” she told reporters. “I’m the one right now working with the administration to get things done.”