Kelli Ward refuses to say whether she'd back Rep. Martha McSally as Arizona Senate primary nears

There is no love lost between state Sen. Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally, the two top Arizona Republicans vying to...

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 10:01 AM
Updated: Jul 26, 2018 10:01 AM

There is no love lost between state Sen. Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally, the two top Arizona Republicans vying to represent the party in November's Senate election.

But their race has grown so contentious roughly a month before Republican voters pick their nominee that Ward, who's challenging McSally from the right, is making the case that it would be "disingenuous" for her to support McSally should the sitting congresswoman win the nomination.

Arizona is one of the few states where Democrats believe they are in a position to flip a Senate seat this fall. Arizona narrowly backed President Donald Trump in 2016, but Democrats believe that the state's demographics -- as well as the enthusiasm on the left -- could help deliver the Senate seat to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat in the race.

Ward's comments show just how divisive the primary has become and suggest it could be difficult for Republicans to unite behind a single candidate in the general election.

Ward told CNN in an interview on Wednesday that McSally "isn't a conservative," and when asked directly if she would support McSally's candidacy, Ward dodged but said, "I want a conservative in that seat."

"It would seem pretty disingenuous of me to be campaigning in a primary, stating that I am the one who has the principles, who shares the values of faith, family and freedom with the people of Arizona and then to hypocritically go in and say that my opponent is the be-all, end-all, and because she has an R behind her name we should get behind her," Ward said.

Trump has loomed large in the race to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who has become a fervent Trump critic. All three Republicans -- Ward, McSally and controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- are running toward Trump, pledging to stand with the President if they are elected.

McSally, the more establishment candidate in the race, has been pushed to the right in the primary, most clearly shown earlier this year when she pulled her support for a moderate immigration bill to get behind the more conservative plan.

Ward has sought to seize on these moves, hoping that her rightward run and the fact that McSally broke with Trump during the 2016 election will entice the President to back her in the primary.

Ward declined to say point-blank whether she would get behind McSally. But pressed on the issue, she slammed McSally as a fake Republican and compared her critically to Sinema.

"People who are running have to actually be Republican. They need to be sharing the values that Arizona voters are fighting for. They can't be a clone of Jeff Flake and John McCain, who have disanointed our state and our country for far too long, and Martha is cut from the same cloth," Ward said.

A spokesperson for McSally's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Ward's hostility toward McSally is not new but her campaign is turning up the heat on the congresswoman.

The race among McSally, Ward and Arpaio has remained fairly close. An NBC News/Marist Poll found in June that McSally, at 30%, held a statistically irrelevant 2-percentage-point lead over Ward, at 28%, among Republicans. Arpaio stood at 21% in the poll, with the same number undecided.

Ward told CNN she is not worried that Arpaio, who's also challenging McSally from the right, is leeching support from her campaign.

"Joe takes votes from Martha and from me," she said. "What is clear on its face is that conservatives are coalescing behind me."

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: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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