Kelli Ward's DC charm offensive

Arizona US Senate hopeful Kelli Ward is here to show conservatives that she's not crazy -- and to convince them that ...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 9:16 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 9:16 AM

Arizona US Senate hopeful Kelli Ward is here to show conservatives that she's not crazy -- and to convince them that it's still worth spending money in GOP primaries.

Ward is in the middle of a week-long blitz in Washington that includes meetings with major donors and conservative outside groups, interviews and a trip to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

She's trying to galvanize the right against Rep. Martha McSally, one of her primary foes in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake -- even with Steve Bannon excommunicated and President Donald Trump seemingly less interested in a brawl with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that plays out through proxies in 2018 primaries.

The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2018: February edition

Ward's argument: Democrats in Arizona are energized behind Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, but the GOP base might stay home rather than vote for McSally.

"What we as a party need to do is give Republicans a reason to go to the polls in November, because the Democrats certainly have some momentum and drive to get their people to the polls," Ward said in an interview with CNN. "What's not going to get Republicans to the polls is offering them the same kind of politician as John McCain and Jeff Flake in Arizona."

Ward has long fought for relevance in Trump's world. At a late 2017 Trump rally in Phoenix, he huddled with several allies backstage about finding a Flake primary challenger -- but Ward wasn't part of the conversation, got no mention from the stage and attended as part of the general crowd.

Fresh off an unsuccessful primary against McCain, Ward, the conservative former state senator launched her 2018 Senate campaign in October 2016 -- before Trump had even won the presidency. She appeared to help chase incumbent Flake into retirement. And shortly after Bannon departed the White House, she looked like a star member of his class of insurgents determined to unseat Republican senators in this year's primaries.

Now, though, Bannon is out of Trump's inner circle, and the White House is aligning itself much more closely with McConnell's political priorities.

And McConnell world has been clear: It's backing McSally.

Seeking to keep Republicans from coalescing around McSally's candidacy, Ward's campaign and outside conservative groups have cast McSally as a never-Trumper, highlighting her refusal to endorse Trump during the 2016 campaign.

In recent weeks, McSally has refused to say whether she voted for Trump. "Not your business," she told a Los Angeles Times reporter.

The three-way late-August primary also features former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an anti-immigration hard-liner who threatens to siphon votes away from Ward.

Meetings in DC

Now Ward is in Washington for a week of meetings designed to demonstrate she's worth a heavy financial investment in a race where she's being pinched from both sides.

Her schedule included meetings with several conservative groups -- including Freedom Partners, a group related to the Koch brothers' donor network, the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth. She will also meet GOP megadonors, including Chicago-area businessman Dick Uihlein and Bill Doddridge, the CEO of the Jewelry Exchange, who launched a pro-Trump super PAC.

Ward is highlighting support from Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who campaigned for her in Arizona last week and labeled McSally "Martha McSpender." Ward is also taking a hard line on immigration, accusing McSally of voting for "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants "at least nine times."

Chemtrails

Support for Ward's campaign from outside the state could be crucial: She has already faced ads launched by the McConnell-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund portraying her as "Chemtrail Kelli."

It's a reference to a 2014 town hall Ward hosted where constituents raised concerns about "chemtrails" -- emissions left by airplanes flying overhead. Two state officials Ward had invited shot down the conspiracy theory at the meeting. But the ad said she "has got her head in the clouds with crazy ideas."

"I definitely don't believe that. That's ridiculous," Ward told CNN of the characterization of her as a believer in a "chemtrail" conspiracy.

"During the (2014) meeting, some of the people there talked about chemtrails -- and that's it. I mean really, that's the end of the story," she said. "However, the political story is, when you don't have anything to attack someone with, you bring up ridiculous things like chemtrails."

"It's a shame that people on our side of the aisle are trying to create a persona that doesn't exist," she said. "They're so focused on maintaining the status quo that they alienate a huge part of the Republican electorate, as well as many in the liberty movement, as well as independents, and even some conservative Democrats are turned off by that."

Huntsville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Florence
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Fayetteville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 61°
Decatur
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 59°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 22566

Reported Deaths: 364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson504062
Shelby4943111
Trousdale13924
Rutherford119623
Sumner88145
Hamilton79415
Bledsoe6071
Williamson55210
Putnam4795
Robertson4653
Tipton4423
Out of TN4184
Lake4140
Wilson4078
Knox3755
Bedford2834
Montgomery2693
Rhea2100
Hardeman1960
Madison1752
Loudon1430
McMinn14114
Macon1363
Cheatham1230
Bradley1221
Fayette1152
Cumberland1121
Dickson1090
Unassigned920
Blount913
Maury890
Sevier812
Washington750
Coffee730
Wayne640
Gibson631
Monroe622
Sullivan602
Hickman580
Lauderdale561
Franklin531
Greene502
Dyer500
Marion401
Anderson401
DeKalb370
Hamblen362
Smith341
White330
Hawkins332
Lawrence310
Grundy311
Haywood312
Marshall311
Obion301
Henry300
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Overton260
Meigs260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Warren230
Cannon210
Perry210
Cocke200
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Jackson170
Crockett162
Roane160
Polk160
Johnson160
Henderson150
Hardin152
Sequatchie150
Humphreys131
Fentress120
McNairy120
Chester120
Giles120
Scott120
Stewart110
Claiborne90
Houston80
Grainger80
Clay70
Benton71
Decatur50
Unicoi40
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Moore30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events