The Arizona Senate race: An aviator vs. a bloviator

Last night, as I discussed at the end of a long post on Tuesday’s primaries, Rep. Martha McSally won the Republican nomination to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake. Her opponent is Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

It figures to be a tight race, as both congresswomen are fairly popular. Sinema has a radical past, but has positioned herself as a centrist in recent years, presumably with an eye on that Senate seat. McSally is a center-right Republican who has moved closer to President Trump this political season.

McSally is a war hero. She was the first woman to fly a fighter jet in combat and led air strikes against the Taliban. Sinema was an anti-war protester during that time.

There’s no disgrace in protesting wars, but the contrast between the backgrounds of the two candidates is stark. It doesn’t favor Sinema, especially at a time when Arizona is mourning the death of another fighter pilot war hero.

McSally is doing a great job of highlighting the contrast. She calls the race “a choice between a doer and a talker, a patriot and a protester, an aviator and bloviator.”

McSally best shot comes in a campaign ad that features Sinema protesting war in a pink tutu. In case you missed it, here is the ad:

The conventional wisdom, with which I don’t quarrel, is that McSally gives the GOP a much better chance of holding the Arizona seat than her main rival, Kelli Ward, would have. But it won’t be clear skies for McSally. Her appeal to moderates vastly exceeds that of Dr. Ward, but she will need strong support from the Trumpian base.

President Trump has just endorsed McSally, but will probably need to campaign with her in order to generate the kind of support from his base she requires. And she must generate that support without alienating moderates in a state that Trump carried, but with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Stay tuned.

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