These 3 Democrats should cheer Kelli Ward's Republican Party
Opinion: Ruben Gallego, Grant Woods and Mark Kelly all have a leg up on Martha McSally for the Senate seat. Here's why.
Kelli Ward at the throne of the Arizona Republican Party is good news for the three Democrats already jockeying for Sen. John McCain’s seat.
That’s how Meghan McCain, the late senator’s daughter, characterized Ward’s ascension to party chairwoman over the weekend.
“Don’t get me started on this.... great day for Az Democrats,’’ she said in a tweet replying to news of Ward’s election.
Yep. Ward, the nationalist twice-loser Senate candidate, is a godsend for Democrats. They had begun to whisper nervously about a bruising fight to pick the party’s challenger for Martha McSally, who defeated Ward in the 2018 GOP primary but lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
McSally got appointed to fill McCain’s seat but must face voters in 2020 for the remainder of the late senator’s term. McSally's bet on Trump’s extreme nationalistic views cost her the election. And now Ward, her one-time rival and Trump clone, is supposed to lead her to victory?
3 Democrats are jockeying for position
Enter the Democrats: U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods and retired astronaut Mark Kelly. They are formidable candidates in their own right and are already positioning themselves to fight it out the for the chance to face McSally.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Catherine Cortez Masto earlier this month met with Gallego, Woods and Kelly, according to The Hill.
Getting Schumer and Masto’s blessing is crucial to access to tons of money to challenge McSally.
Gallego, who in 2018 was elected to his third House term, is undoubtedly a rising star. He’s a Harvard graduate, son of immigrants and a Marine combat veteran who commands national attention.
Some consider his progressive views a potentially drawback in traditionally conservative Arizona. But the state is changing to purple. And he’s smart, charismatic and an adept fundraiser. He clearly has a fighting chance.
Any of them could take on McSally
Woods, who was state attorney general and McCain’s chief of staff, is the most experienced. He, too, is charismatic and commands the public’s attention. His drawback? He only recently and conveniently left the Republican Party.
The guy is likable and is saying the right things on immigration and other issues to appeal to Democrats and independents. But it’d take a lot of convincing about his sincerity and allegiance to a party he joined only a few months ago.
Lastly, there is Kelly, the retired astronaut whose gun-control advocacy work has gained national notoriety. He’s married to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt in Tucson.
MONTINI: Arizona's GOP died with John McCain
A group promoting candidates with backgrounds on science, technology, engineering and math recently launched an ad campaign to convince Kelly to go after the Senate seat, according to the same Hill report.
Kelly is a solid contender with no political baggage, but Arizonans will have to get to know him better. It remains to be seen whether he can rally the troops and inspire voters across party lines to go to the polls.
Whoever ends up facing McSally will have an edge over her – a united Democratic Party and potentially independents, too. McSally will have to rely on her Washington friends because, rest assured, Ward will be focusing on her own brand and re-electing Trump.
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