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Arizona GOP Senate Primary Candidates Run Right While Deciding How Far Is Too Right

Republican Senate candidates Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Kelli Ward planted a flag on the far-right edge of the Arizona GOP Senate primary last week when she disavowed the support of a white supremacist, showing her fellow candidates how far right was too far right in their campaigns to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Policy-wise, Ward doubled down on her support for a wall along the United States-Mexico border, while Joe Arpaio voiced support for the policy of separating children from illegally immigrating parents and Rep. Martha McSally (R) — seen as the moderate in the GOP primary field — pulled back her support for carving a DREAMers’ path to citizenship.

The Associated Press reported in May that Arpaio and Ward were expected to split the conservative vote in the August primary. AP’s analysis portrayed McSally as the choice of moderate Arizona Republicans.

However, McSally took on a more conservative voice with the assistance of the Sen. Mitch McConnell-aligned nonprofit One Nation, and with that became the preferred choice of the GOP establishment.

“We’ve got to build the wall,” McSally said in the ad that began running Thursday, referring to President Trump’s vision of constructing a tall impediment to illegal immigration.

“They illegally cross our borders. Criminals, violent gang members, and drugs bring us all at risk,” the ad’s narrator warned. Although the narration never mentions the August GOP Senate primary, the narrator makes it clear that McSally and Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) “are working to stop them.”

Zach Henry, a spokesman for Ward, told Politico the One Nation video is an attempt by “the establishment and Never Trump Forces to prop up McSally.”

“McSally's record of personal attacks on President Trump, opposing the border wall, and her dozens of votes for amnesty and reckless Washington spending doesn't appeal to Arizonans,” said Henry.

Before the One Nation video was released, McSally pulled down a YouTube video that voiced support for the DACA program. She has also co-authored immigration legislation that does not include a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. The bill would also reduce the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. legally.

Arpaio, who made his national name as the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., went much further to the right of the political spectrum when he told CNN that the adults who bring children into America illegally should be blamed for family separations at the border.

"Why don't we blame the families, the adults, for taking the chance, violating the law, coming across our border with these young kids? They're the ones who should be held responsible," Arpaio said.

“When I get to Washington, I’m going to make sure there’s another law — a tougher law — to go after these people,” Arpaio continued.