Arizona GOP Senator John McCain’s reelection campaign is lashing out with negative attacks against his Republican primary opponent, State Senator Dr. Kelli Ward, as new polling shows trouble for McCain’s attempt for a sixth Senate term.
A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Dr. Ward and Senator McCain tied at 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup. The poll has even more bad news for McCain, showing the aging Senator with just a 35 percent approval among Republican primary voters.
With such high negatives, it’s no surprise McCain’s campaign would shift from ignoring Ward to attacking her. Their goal, obviously, is to make Ward more unpopular than McCain and hope that the anti-McCain vote doesn’t coalesce behind the energetic State Senator with a proven conservative record in Arizona’s statehouse.
A campaign mailer sent to Arizona primary voters from McCain’s campaign obtained by Breitbart News features a scary looking jihadist and attempts to insinuate that Dr. Ward is the candidate of choice for terrorists.
McCain’s campaign is also receiving assistance from the increasingly marginalized #NeverTrump pity party. RedState attacked Ward for being insufficiently hostile to Donald Trump’s candidacy and the Washington Free Beacon tried to question her pro-life bonafides. The alliance with #NeverTrump could backfire on Senator McCain in a state where anti-establishment candidates Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz received nearly 75 percent of the vote in Arizona’s March 22nd presidential primary. Trump won the state with more than 47 percent of the vote.
McCain is in a conundrum over Trump, because after Trump’s comments early in the primary season last year about his wartime record, it’s difficult for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee to back the 2016 presumptive nominee. Nonetheless, McCain has tepidly backed Trump now that he is the presumptive nominee. So while Ward can exploit McCain from the right on the matter, Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate in Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is hammering McCain from the left—running ads calling on him to renounce Trump.
The McCain campaign is trying to keep the focus on their attacks on Ward. Another video that says it is paid for by “Friends of John McCain” attempts to portray Dr. Ward as a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist by branding her as “chemtrail Kelli”.
After her State Senate office had received numerous questions about chemtrails, Dr. Ward facilitated a meeting between constituents concerned about chemtrails and experts who explained what was really going on — hardly a controversy.
McCain can sling a lot of mud with the more than $10 million his campaign has raised so far, with more likely on the way given his deep connections to political insiders and GOP money men. Expect this race to get a lot rougher if Ward keeps rising in the polls.