McCain Challenger Kelli Ward Raises Half a Million in First Fundraising Report

CBS 5 News
CBS 5 News

Arizona state Senator Kelli Ward raised $525,000 in the first quarter in her pursuit to oust five-term U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

Ward raised the sum from 2,100 individuals, according to the campaign. She adds that none of those contributors are lobbyists or D.C. interests. Ward told Breitbart News this comes, “In contrast to Senator McCain, who is bought and paid for with the hundreds of thousands he has received in the first half of this year alone from D.C. special interests and lobbyists.”

Ward’s campaign still had $320,000 of that total in the bank as the September 30 third quarter reporting period ended, according to the candidate’s campaign.

Ward told Breitbart News:

I am working very hard to show that I am serious about this campaign and my fundraising numbers prove just that. As the only viable opponent to Senator McCain, I plan to continue raising money and building out my statewide grassroots team over the coming months. If people want to send a new, bold, fresh, fearless leader to D.C., then they should join me at

Neither Ward nor McCain has yet released official FEC reports according to the Arizona Republic. The newspaper predicts McCain’s campaign will report at least $1 million in funds raised in the third quarter reporting period.

“This tremendous support reflects growing momentum for my campaign to build a stronger, safer and more prosperous Arizona,” McCain said according to the Republic. “These resources will allow us to continue to build a very strong campaign focused on the priorities of hardworking Arizonans.”

Breitbart News reported when Ward announced her exploratory committee and again as the official campaign launched in July.

McCain put out fundraising emails earlier this year expressing concern over his vulnerability to a primary challenger. McCain, who faced 2010 challenger J.D. Hayworth, began his 2016 campaign with a diminished war chest.

In comparison, freshman Senator Joni Ernst garnered just over $250,000 in her first quarter October 2013 quarterly campaign fundraising report as did Senator Marco Rubio in the April 2009 quarterly. Senator Mike Lee raised just over $140,000 in his first quarter, the April 2010 quarterly, Senator Chris McDaniel procured $487,000 in 2013, and now Senator Tom Cotton $343,000 in his 2012 bid for Congress. Senator Ted Cruz, now pursuing a run at the Presidency, raised more than Ward with over $900,000 in the first quarter of his 2012 campaign for Senatorial.

Ward told Breitbart News, “The political elite like to say something and repeat it often, trying to make it the truth – Barack Obama and the progressives are masters at this. Over $500k raised by a person that the McCain allies described as a little-known rural State Senator who is on the JV team is nothing to sneeze about.”

Conservative groups quickly responded to McCain’s April announcement that he would seek yet another term in the Senate. Breitbart News reported at the time, “conservative groups began detailing McCain’s record, giving him a failing grade and rallying grassroots and financial support for a potential McCain challenger.

In recent years, dissatisfaction with McCain has grown, Arizona Republicans formally censuring the Senator for liberal views.”

Conservative Republican Club of Kingman President Larry Schiff previously estimated that it would take $10 million to overcome the McCain machine.

Ward has repeatedly admitted that the task of taking on McCain is a Goliath task. “We know it will take an incredible amount of support to defeat McCain’s millions coming from D.C.,” Ward said. “But our campaign will be built by hard working conservatives and independent minded individuals who are willing to challenge the establishment. This is only the beginning.”

The Republic noted that McCain’s campaign declined to respond to comments made about the incumbent by his challenger. Alex Meluskey and Clair Van Steenwyk are also seeking the GOP nomination for McCain’s Senate seat. U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick is leading in the race for the Democratic Party nomination.

An August Gravis marketing poll put Ward ahead of McCain with 45 per cent of the support of Arizonans polled while McCain only garnered 36 per cent.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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