Donald Trump’s name may not be on the ballot again until next year. But Republican candidates to make up their minds on whether to embrace Trump – or claim they’ll stand up to him if they’re elected, which in most red states, could set the odds against them – driving them either to early retirement or to at least change parties. Various Republicans ran on both strategies in 2018 and still ended up losing.
Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona chose the former strategy, and lost narrowly to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema – before she was appointed to fill John McCain’s seat in January. Running to keep that seat in 2020, may be an uphill battle. McSally was first elected to Congress in 2014, winning by 200 votes in an election year with record low voter turnout.
She’s facing a challenge from former astronaut Mark Kelly, who’s already outspent her over the last three months of his campaign, bringing in $4.2 million from small donors, according to the Arizona Republic – something that rarely happens to incumbent senators. She may not have much of an incumbent advantage – particularly when it comes to her record.
She’s consistently run on repealing Obamacare. She’ll hope most voters forget about that, even while healthcare access is still the number one issue for Arizona voters, hoping instead they’ll follow her pet issue: the racist dog whistle of Sharia Law – which has never posed a credible national security threat. Making things worse for McSally’s campaign, her top advisor quit in June, and even Trumpers in her state have grown irritated by her refusal to hold town halls.
Political experts are rating Arizona high on their list of states to watch for flipping the Senate – as it has moved from what would normally be a slam dunk for Republicans into a virtual tie in the polls. Considering that Sinema won 118 precincts that voted for Trump in 2016, the tide could continue to shift against Republicans, particularly one that voted with Trump 97% of the time.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making