Kelli Ward's DC charm offensive

Arizona US Senate hopeful Kelli Ward is here to show conservatives that she's not crazy -- and to convince them that ...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 9:16 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 9:16 AM

Arizona US Senate hopeful Kelli Ward is here to show conservatives that she's not crazy -- and to convince them that it's still worth spending money in GOP primaries.

Ward is in the middle of a week-long blitz in Washington that includes meetings with major donors and conservative outside groups, interviews and a trip to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

She's trying to galvanize the right against Rep. Martha McSally, one of her primary foes in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake -- even with Steve Bannon excommunicated and President Donald Trump seemingly less interested in a brawl with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that plays out through proxies in 2018 primaries.

The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2018: February edition

Ward's argument: Democrats in Arizona are energized behind Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, but the GOP base might stay home rather than vote for McSally.

"What we as a party need to do is give Republicans a reason to go to the polls in November, because the Democrats certainly have some momentum and drive to get their people to the polls," Ward said in an interview with CNN. "What's not going to get Republicans to the polls is offering them the same kind of politician as John McCain and Jeff Flake in Arizona."

Ward has long fought for relevance in Trump's world. At a late 2017 Trump rally in Phoenix, he huddled with several allies backstage about finding a Flake primary challenger -- but Ward wasn't part of the conversation, got no mention from the stage and attended as part of the general crowd.

Fresh off an unsuccessful primary against McCain, Ward, the conservative former state senator launched her 2018 Senate campaign in October 2016 -- before Trump had even won the presidency. She appeared to help chase incumbent Flake into retirement. And shortly after Bannon departed the White House, she looked like a star member of his class of insurgents determined to unseat Republican senators in this year's primaries.

Now, though, Bannon is out of Trump's inner circle, and the White House is aligning itself much more closely with McConnell's political priorities.

And McConnell world has been clear: It's backing McSally.

Seeking to keep Republicans from coalescing around McSally's candidacy, Ward's campaign and outside conservative groups have cast McSally as a never-Trumper, highlighting her refusal to endorse Trump during the 2016 campaign.

In recent weeks, McSally has refused to say whether she voted for Trump. "Not your business," she told a Los Angeles Times reporter.

The three-way late-August primary also features former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an anti-immigration hard-liner who threatens to siphon votes away from Ward.

Meetings in DC

Now Ward is in Washington for a week of meetings designed to demonstrate she's worth a heavy financial investment in a race where she's being pinched from both sides.

Her schedule included meetings with several conservative groups -- including Freedom Partners, a group related to the Koch brothers' donor network, the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth. She will also meet GOP megadonors, including Chicago-area businessman Dick Uihlein and Bill Doddridge, the CEO of the Jewelry Exchange, who launched a pro-Trump super PAC.

Ward is highlighting support from Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who campaigned for her in Arizona last week and labeled McSally "Martha McSpender." Ward is also taking a hard line on immigration, accusing McSally of voting for "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants "at least nine times."

Chemtrails

Support for Ward's campaign from outside the state could be crucial: She has already faced ads launched by the McConnell-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund portraying her as "Chemtrail Kelli."

It's a reference to a 2014 town hall Ward hosted where constituents raised concerns about "chemtrails" -- emissions left by airplanes flying overhead. Two state officials Ward had invited shot down the conspiracy theory at the meeting. But the ad said she "has got her head in the clouds with crazy ideas."

"I definitely don't believe that. That's ridiculous," Ward told CNN of the characterization of her as a believer in a "chemtrail" conspiracy.

"During the (2014) meeting, some of the people there talked about chemtrails -- and that's it. I mean really, that's the end of the story," she said. "However, the political story is, when you don't have anything to attack someone with, you bring up ridiculous things like chemtrails."

"It's a shame that people on our side of the aisle are trying to create a persona that doesn't exist," she said. "They're so focused on maintaining the status quo that they alienate a huge part of the Republican electorate, as well as many in the liberty movement, as well as independents, and even some conservative Democrats are turned off by that."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Oxford
Mostly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the end of the weekend. We will see our area filled with plenty of sunshine but clouds will be on the increase into the evening hours. There will be some changes for the start work week in our weather forecast as low pressure brings back some chances for showers and thunderstorms.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather