Establishment Favorite Martha McSally is an Untrustworthy, Weak Candidate

To: Interested Parties
From: Bradley Beychok, President, American Bridge 21st Century
Date: 1/12/18

If Martha McSally is the best Senate Republicans can do in Arizona, they’re in for a tough 2018. McSally’s Senate bid faces the same hurricane-force headwinds that pushed Senator Jeff Flake into early retirement. Although she votes with Donald Trump 96 percent of the time, she’s been a vocal critic of him in the past. Trump allies don’t like her and even tried to scare her out of the race. And there are now two far-right, well-known GOP candidates in the race she’ll have to face in a primary.

On top of that, Democrats are well-equipped to hold McSally accountable. American Bridge has had staff on the ground in Arizona for 12 months and already has more than 120 hours of tracking footage of McSally and more than 700 pages of research.

Here are just a few of McSally’s many shortcomings as a candidate:

1. McSally Is A Card-Carrying Member of the Unpopular GOP Establishment – She’s Close to Sen. Flake and Endorsed by Sen. Mitch McConnell 

Martha McSally is the very definition of Washington establishment politician in the mold of Senator Jeff Flake, who was forced to drop his bid for re-election last year. Shortly after Flake announced his retirement, McSally was called “the GOP establishment’s favorite” to replace him and dubbed the “consensus candidate of lawmakers and donors,” which isn’t exactly a good thing in today’s political climate where more than two thirds of people disapprove of the job this Republican Congress is doing.

Additionally, Jeff Flake’s leadership PAC has contributed thousands to McSally’s campaigns. And after Flake announced his retirement, McSally praised his years of service to the country. What’s more, even though she hadn’t officially announced yet, beleaguered and unpopular Senate Leader Mitch McConnell called McSally “a great candidate” and one of his top recruits for the Senate in December 2017 naming her among a list of Republican candidates he was supporting for 2018.

Far-right conservative groups including the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and FreedomWorks have already taken aim at McSally, issuing a joint “show-of- force statement” opposing her potential candidacy before she even entered the race. They slammed her as “part of the problem” and as having a “very liberal voting record”:

  • McSally had a 59% lifetime score with the Club for Growth.
  • McSally had a 45% lifetime score with the Conservative Review.
  • McSally had a 43% lifetime score with the Heritage Foundation.
Conservative activist Erick Erickson even said “McSally was one of the few Republicans who Barack Obama could routinely depend upon over the past few years.”

Now she faces far right candidates Kelly Ward and Joe Arpaio in what will be a very messy GOP primary, which is already pushing her further and further right and making her less appealing to a general electorate, and depleting her campaign funds, leaving her much weakened for a general election against a strong Democratic candidate, should she make it that far.

2. McSally is a Hypocritical Politician, Now Embracing Trump After a Long Record of Criticizing him.

In an attempt to run away from an establishment record she knows will hurt her, McSally is bending over backwards to portray herself as best buddies with President Trump — a complete flip flop from her relationship with him in 2016. Like Dean Heller in Nevada who’s done the same thing and ended up very unpopular, it’s a move that leaves her looking like a spineless politician who can’t be trusted and who will say whatever she thinks voters want to hear to get elected.

Before she was campaigning for a promotion, McSally was a sharp Trump critic.She refused to endorse him in the 2016 election, said she “utterly disagreed” with his comments about NATO allies, and condemned him after the infamous Access Hollywood tape. And she didn’t stop after Trump got elected: during a town hall this year she called the Administration “tremendously bumpy” and said “I’m concerned about [Trump] not shifting from campaigning to governing.”

What’s changed since then? Only her political ambition. The far-right conservative base in Arizona still overwhelmingly approves of President Trump. In 2016, Trump won the GOP primary in Arizona by over 20 points.

Now that McSally is planning a Senate bid against two far-right candidates in the GOP primary, she has posted photos of herself with the president and Ivanka Trump to her social media, she’s added video of Trump praising her to her campaign YouTube account, and she’s tweeted about Trump four separate times. She’s even gone on Fox News to commend him.

3. McSally is Devastatingly Vulnerable to Republican Attacks for Her Record on Immigration (And More)

McSally has an immigration record that will make base Republican voters furious, and which will make a potent attack in what is sure to be a bloody Republican primary.

She has repeatedly supported DACA, an explosively unpopular policy with theconservative base. McSally has voted five times to preserve Obama executive actions on immigration expanding DACA, even though she said she wouldn’t support the Dream Act during her 2012 campaign. She also voted three times to allow DACA recipients to join the military in 2015 and 2016, and recently introduced a new DACA bill.

Maybe more importantly than DACA, she has “expressed skepticism” and even opposition to Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico — a sacrament for the GOP base — commenting that physical barriers were “only part of the equation” for fixing border issues. In 2017, she voted against mandating that the border wall include many features of the border wall as Trump has described.