Political Editors / Jan. 15, 2018

Combat Pilot Targets Flake’s AZ Senate Seat

Rep. Martha McSally has thrown her hat in the ring, and she should prove a formidable candidate.

Knowing that he stood little chance of winning re-election, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake announced his retirement last October. Thus, he’s more or less set about to be the “conscience” of the GOP, denouncing President Donald Trump whenever he sees fit — as if there was a dearth of Trump denunciation. But the race to replace him is also quite interesting.

Rep. Martha McSally has thrown her hat in the ring. She’s a former Air Force combat pilot who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, CNS News reports, “McSally served 26 years in uniform, retired a U.S. Air Force colonel in 2010, and is the first female pilot in U.S. history to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat.” While in the Air Force, she led the fight against military policy requiring women to wear long, black robes over their uniforms. “I absolutely refused to bow down to Sharia law,” she said. “After eight years of fighting, I won my battle to fight for the religious freedom of servicewomen.”

In her announcement video, she let her true colors show. “Like our president,” she said, “I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses. I’m a fighter pilot and I talk like one.” In fact, she added, “I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”

She is by all accounts the favorite of the party establishment, and she is already a member of the House, so a huge part of her campaign is going to be a balancing act — distancing herself from the despised party leadership while running a more respectable and mainstream campaign than either of her primary opponents is likely to mount. “Oddly enough,” notes Jazz Shaw, “despite the charges against her, McSally votes in line with the Trump agenda 96.7% of the time, well above both Flake and [John] McCain.” Voters thinking “establishment” should consider that.

The casting as “establishment” is for a reason, and that is there are two groups who would prefer to see the 85-year-old Joe Arpaio win the GOP primary — longtime ardent supporters (a la Roy Moore) and leftists who know he’s beatable. Kelli Ward, the other favorite of some conservatives, is in much the same boat.

Besides her own impressive biography, McSally has two distinct advantages: Her opponents are competing for the same voters, and she stands a better chance against the Democrat in November, which, after all, should be the goal of a primary — selecting the most conservative candidate who can win.

(Edited.)

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