With Woods out, McSally must be thrilled

The Arizona Republic - - Valley & State - Lau­rie Roberts Colum­nist Ari­zona Repub­lic USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

To the sur­prise of al­most no one, Grant Woods an­nounced he won’t be run­ning for the Sen­ate in 2020.

I’m not so sure that’s some­thing Democrats should be cel­e­brat­ing to­day. In fact, I’d be will­ing to be bet that Repub­li­can Martha McSally is one happy se­na­tor to­day.

Woods, a for­mer Repub­li­can at­tor­ney gen­eral, would have been a long shot to win a Demo­cratic pri­mary, un­less Democrats were dis­ci­plined enough to avoid an all-out in­tra­party war.

They aren’t.

But Woods, a guy who left the Repub­li­can Party af­ter the death of his friend Sen. John McCain, struck me as the Demo­crat with the best chance of beat­ing McSally.

Mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans and in­de­pen­dents al­ready have demon­strated their dis­like of McSally by send­ing Demo­crat Kyrsten Sinema to Washington to re­place Jeff Flake.

McSally got a sec­ond chance when Gov. Doug Ducey ap­pointed her to fill out the rest of the late Sen. John McCain’s term.

McSally could — and should — try to win them back by sep­a­rat­ing her­self from Trump and repris­ing the role of the more mod­er­ate Martha who rep­re­sented the state’s most com­pet­i­tive con­gres­sional dis­trict.

She had the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to do just that dur­ing the govern­ment shut­down. She could have joined six other Repub­li­can sen­a­tors in vot­ing to re­open the govern­ment while ne­go­ti­a­tions on the bor­der wall con­tin­ued.

In­stead, she stuck with Trump un­til the bit­ter end, which came the next day when the cor­nered Trump agreed to the truce. Then, sud­denly, McSally was for that which she had voted against just 24 hours ear­lier.

So yeah, she’s likely to con­tinue to have trou­ble with mod­er­ate vot­ers.

Un­less, that is, Democrats put up a leftie.

Rep. Ruben Gal­lego al­ready has staked out a claim, say­ing he’s “very in­ter­ested” in run­ning. For­mer as­tro­naut Mark Kelly is fre­quently men­tioned as a pos­si­bil­ity. I can’t imag­ine that Rep. Greg Stan­ton doesn’t have his fin­ger in the air to see which way the wind is blow­ing.

Given the times, I’m guess­ing Demo­cratic pri­mary vot­ers will veer left, hav­ing learned noth­ing from David Gar­cia’s dis­as­trous run for gover­nor.

Gar­cia went left — imag­in­ing no wall when he should have been imag-

Given the times, I’m guess­ing Demo­cratic pri­mary vot­ers will veer left.

in­ing a plan to im­prove pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion — and he lost. Mean­while, Kyrsten Sinema steered to the cen­ter and be­came the first Demo­crat to win a Sen­ate seat in Ari­zona in 30 years.

Woods could reprise Sinema's race. He is a man of mod­er­ate ten­den­cies — or as they are known to­day, a man with no party.

But he told KTAR’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes that lib­eral Democrats weren’t about to go along with that.

“It’s pretty clear to me there’s go­ing to be a Demo­cratic pri­mary if I de­cide to run,” he said, adding that it would be a “big­time, ex­pen­sive, com­pet­i­tive pri­mary.”

Re­gard­less, there will be a big­time, ex­pen­sive gen­eral elec­tion and once again mod­er­ate vot­ers will be in play.

Now one of their best chances for win­ning is off the board.

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