Arizona Senate Race: Four Humpty Trumptys Sitting on a Wall

Who will end up sitting highest on the wall?
Who will end up sitting highest on the wall? Chris Piascik

click to enlarge Who will end up sitting highest on the wall? - CHRIS PIASCIK
Who will end up sitting highest on the wall?
Chris Piascik

The Humpty Trumptys say build a big wall.
But three of the four will have a great fall.

Arizona is in the middle of a campaign that could give the U.S. Senate a new hue of blue or keep it an even deeper shade of red.

The nation’s eyes are upon us. So what do they see?

Four candidates — Congresswoman Martha McSally, ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Dr. Kelli Ward in the Republican primary, and the semi-Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema — delivering pretty much the same two-prong message in their bid to replace the aptly named Jeff Flake:

1. Build the damn wall.
2. The president likes me best.

“There isn’t a lot of difference among them,” said Professor Richard Herrera of Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies. “It’s particularly got to be tough on the voters in the Republican primary. You have three fairly well-known candidates … all of them want to be tough on border security and all seem to be diehard supporters of the president.”

So maybe it will come down to which of the candidates appears the most sane. That won’t be an easy choice, either.

Perhaps it says something about the bizarreness of this race that Arpaio’s Who Is America? interview on Showtime interview with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen might not be the strangest thing that’s happened so far — and we’ve still got five days before the primary vote.

click to enlarge Well, if the president gives head like he gives pardons ... - MIRIAM WASSER
Well, if the president gives head like he gives pardons ...
Miriam Wasser
Arpaio, as most of the world with Wi-Fi knows by now, was asked by Cohen (in disguise as a Finnish interviewer) if Donald Trump were to offer the former “world’s toughest sheriff” “an amazing blowjob,” would Arpaio say yes?

Well, duh? If the president can give head as well as he can give pardons, old Joe would be crazy to refuse.

But is that any weirder than Ward’s meltdown after the Arizona Republic endorsed McSally over Ward and Arpaio for the Republican nomination? Remember, this is the same newspaper that endorsed the woman Ward views as the devil, Hillary Clinton, over her beloved Trump in 2016, breaking a 126-year tradition of endorsing Republicans for president.

So why would the blessing of the Republic, which she calls “#FakeNews,” be important to Ward? Apparently, it was.

“The positions that @azcentral @dannowicki @yvonnewingett support — like open borders & sanctuary cities — stand in direct contrast with the values of millions of Arizonans,” she began as part of a tweetstorm on August 5. “They are in lockstep with #NeverTrumpers like Flake, McCain, and McSally ...

“... whose failed policies have hurt the American people and citizens of Arizona. From McCain’s infamous thumbs down on #RepealObamaCare to Flake comparing @realDonaldTrump to the dictator Stalin to McSally voting for #Amnesty 11 times & calling the President’s words ‘hateful’...”

(We should note that neither Republic political editor Dan Nowicki nor political reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez were involved in the paper’s editorial endorsement. Indeed, the editorial board is directed by Arpaio’s son-in-law, Phil Boas, so it can hardly be accused of favoritism.).

UPDATE: Ward topped herself this weekend when she implied that John McCain's family may have timed the announcement of the end of his brain cancer treatment to derail her campaign.  Then she doubled down by complaining about the negative comments she got on social media following McCain's death Saturday.  Did you notice that @kelliwardaz rhymes with this lady is CRAY-ZEE?

click to enlarge Why did Kelli Ward need the Republic's endorsement when she has Steve Bannon at her side? - LAURA INGRAHAM/TWITTER
Why did Kelli Ward need the Republic's endorsement when she has Steve Bannon at her side?
Laura Ingraham/Twitter
Ward did trumpet the endorsement she got from the Arizona Monitor, until it was revealed by Politico that the Monitor really is a fake news site that stumps for Ward.

Seriously, would you want this woman to be your doctor?

Then again, we elected Arpaio to be our sheriff six times even though he often said stupid stuff, as he did recently, like he can’t go into Mexico because the cartel has a contract out on him.

As for the favorites, McSally and Sinema, theirs is a different kind of crazy. These were once both strong pioneer women, albeit in vastly different fields. Now, they’ve shifted their personal political landscapes so far to the right during the campaign that Arizona tumbleweeds are rolling into New Mexico.

McSally was the first woman to fly fighter jets in combat. She refused to support Trump in 2016. She tweeted that she was “appalled,” after the release of the Access Hollywood tapes in which Trump revealed his approach to charming women: “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

She called Trump’s proposed travel ban for residents of several predominantly Muslim companies “ridiculous” during an interview on MSNBC.

And, according to the Washington Post, she still won’t reveal if she voted for him.

Yet these days, they seem like BFFs.

“Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” McSally says in a video that opened her Senate campaign.

She boasts to her supporters about being invited to the Oval Office. She’s even adopted his pet phrase for the media whenever she doesn’t like reports that she’s sliding to the right. “Fake news,” she said, according to the Post.

click to enlarge At least we're certain Martha McSally never claimed to have bone spurs. - FLICKR/GAGE SKIDMORE
At least we're certain Martha McSally never claimed to have bone spurs.
As for the president, he praises McSally’s combat experience and calls her “the real deal.”

Well, at least she never complained about bone spurs.

Ward calls her a “#FlipFlopBorderHawk,” citing McSally’s earlier reticence to build a wall (Politifact rates the charge half-true.)

But these days, McSally is all in for the wall, even proposing (jokingly, we hope) building one between Arizona and California to protect us from the liberal views of Governor Jerry Brown. (Can’t imagine that would be to popular among her constituents during June, July, and August, when thousands of us risk catching the blue-state flu to escape the heat to the SoCal beaches.)

Sinema, meanwhile, was once a progressive’s dream. She grew up poor, even claiming that her family once lived in an abandoned gas station (not totally confirmed, according to the Arizona Republic). Federal programs helped her obtain a college education and a Ph.D. She was the first person in Congress to acknowledge that she is bisexual. (Not to be confused with the first person in Congress to acknowledge that he buys sex.) She started her political career in the leftist Green Party.

Yet now she votes with the president on almost every key issue, 10 of 11 according to the political website FiveThirtyEight. The only Republican in the Arizona delegation who trumps that score is, you guessed it, McSally, who is a perfect 11-for-11. (Don’t you just know that she was the kid in school who always turned her homework in on time?)

click to enlarge A Republican in Democrat's clothing? - COURTESY OF KYRSTEN SINEMA
A Republican in Democrat's clothing?
Courtesy of Kyrsten Sinema
Sinema also says she doesn’t support building a wall, but then she voted to appropriate $1.6 billion to do just that.

She at least disagreed with the president about separating children from their families at the border.

“It’s wrong, and they should stop immediately,” the congresswoman wrote in a Facebook post. “As always, I stand ready to work with anyone who’s serious about fixing our broken immigration system, securing our border, and protecting our communities. Separating families accomplishes none of those goals.”

Contrast that to Ward, who called Trump’s order “humane,” according to the Post. “I think the zero tolerance policy is one of the most humane things that we do because we are creating a real deterrent for families who want to try to traipse across multiple countries to get here.”

Well, alrighty then, with that let’s get on to the main election.

Professor Herrera expects McSally will emerge from the Republican mud pit to face Sinema in November. He noted an increase of TV attack ads against the front-runner by far-right groups “talking to a particular demographic of people” (i.e., the loons — my words, not his). Democrats have bolstered that, according to the Republic, by spending $1.3 million to oppose McSally.

Republic columnist Elvia Diaz even went so far as to encourage independents to vote for Ward in the Republican primary because she would be a less formidable foe for Sinema. (I wonder if Chemtrail Kelli counts that as an endorsement?)

Still, Herrera sees Ward and Arpaio negating each other by splitting the fringe voters. “McSally has better funding and the support of the party,” he added.

She apparently agrees, having already reserved $1.6 million of TV ad time in the fall.

Personally, I’m pulling for a few more months of Sheriff Joe in the race. Those golden shower commercials would be, well, as good as gold.

But let’s assume the race will be McSally versus Sinema, who first must beat primary challenger Deedra Abboud.

National interest would be intense, Herrera said.

“The Republicans will be saying we need to do something … we can’t lose a race we should hold on to and the Democrats will see this as a big opportunity.”

The problem for both candidates will be to woo back the voters they’ve alienated by shifting so far to the right.

“The Republicans will be saying we need to do something … we can’t lose a race we should hold on to and the Democrats will see this as a big opportunity.”

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These days, it seems that Sinema is the moderate Republican that McSally once was. In essence, McSally will be running against her old self.

Herrera chuckled at that.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some Republicans drift away from her,” he said about McSally. However, he also noted that Sinema will have to inspire Hispanic voters to come out, which may be difficult given that she has supported anti-immigrant bills backed by Trump.

But what about the wall? Poll after poll have shown that the majority of Arizonans don’t want to build one.

Doesn’t it make sense for one candidate to flat out oppose it.

Probably not, the professor said. “Party trumps other issues,” he added.

So maybe we’ll get a wall, after all, when somebody falls. Which leaves us only to ponder this:

Can all of Trump’s horses and all of Trump’s men
Put Humpty’s country together again?
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Stuart Warner is editor of New Times. He has been a journalist since the stoned ages of 1969, playing a major role on teams that won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the author of the biography JOCK: A Coach's Story.
Contact: Stuart Warner