Arizona Senate primary run in Trump's shadow

Aug 30, 2018, 03:00
Arizona Senate primary run in Trump's shadow

In other primaries, Arizona Republicans dodged a bullet in the key U.S. Senate race to replace retiring GOP Sen.

In an advertisement last week, McSally previewed one likely line of attack, noting her background as the first female Air Force fighter pilot to fly in combat during the Iraq War while criticizing Sinema for protesting that war in 2003.

While McSally has talked up her relationship with Trump on the stump, Arpaio and Ward have slammed her on it, claiming she's a duplicitous flip-flopper in the mold of Flake and Sen. She apologized but also said the media misinterpreted some of her comments. McSally has emphasized her fighter pilot biography and closeness to Trump, which she says came spontaneously in the weeks after the president took office, well before she meant to run for senate. Strategists here believe a brutal primary race makes it harder for McSally to pivot to a general election message.

Their presence in the race forced McSally, who previously criticized Trump on occasion and has refused to say whether she voted for him in 2016, to position herself as a defender of Trump's agenda.

McSally, an air force fighter pilot, easily defeated Kelli Ward, a hardline former state senator, and Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff whose criminal conviction was pardoned by Donald Trump a year ago, when they split the anti-establishment vote.

Sinema and McSally's Senate runs also create House openings in Arizona, a fast-growing and increasingly diverse state where Democrats are eager to gain a foothold. John McCain three days ago.

Flake did have good words for McSally, however, telling reporters just prior to the election that he hopes McSally takes the seat.

The appointment rests with Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who has said he would wait until after McCain's burial on Sunday to announce a decision and is not considering himself for the job.

The primary also is expected to cement a heavyweight Senate matchup in November pitting Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson against two-term Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Trump's post-midnight tweet came after Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) was declared the victor in a hard-fought GOP primary to replace Flake, a frequent Trump critic who decided not to seek reelection this year amid lackluster polling numbers. And lest there be any question about his allegiance to Trump's divisive immigration policies, DeSantis encourages his toddler to "build the wall" with blocks in one campaign ad. She'll face off with the victor of a seven-way Democratic primary in November.

On the Democratic side, liberal champion Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, bested a crowded field that included establishment favorite Gwen Graham, the former congresswoman and daughter of Florida political icon Bob Graham.

More than 1.9mn Florida voters have already cast absentee ballots or voted early, according to the state's Division of Elections, surpassing early voting in state primaries in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats see several Republican-held districts in South Florida as prime opportunities to pick up seats.

That's a message that may play well among a general electorate in West Virginia, where Trump won by more than 40 percentage points in 2016, but Trump carried Florida by only a single percentage point. Jeff Flake. She'll face Democratic congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.