Election 2020

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

Republican Senate candidates Kelli Ward, left, and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right, listen to a question from the audience at a Scottsdale Tea Party event in Scottsdale, Ariz., on May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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.

While she has not commented on the border family separation stories, Ward released a new campaign ad June 13 in which she doubled down on her support for Trump’s border wall.

The Ward campaign released the “Relentless” ad following the shooting of a Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

“Securing our border isn’t just about illegal immigration,” Ward said in the ad. “It’s about stopping dangerous drugs, illegal weapons, and human trafficking.”

“In the United States Senate, I’ll be a relentless voice to secure our border, and I will not stop until it’s done,” Ward added.

The “Relentless” ad also lumps McSally together with Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Kyrsten Sinema as Ward criticizes both for opposing the construction of a border wall.

“McSally and Sinema are two perfect examples of politicians who oppose building a wall and have displayed a shocking degree of fecklessness and incompetence when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws,” said Eric Beach, chief strategist for the Ward campaign. “In contrast, Dr. Ward is the only competent, qualified conservative in this race who will work tirelessly in the U.S. Senate to secure our border and build the wall.”

So with Arpaio, McSally and Ward all moving as quickly and resolutely to the right of the Arizona political spectrum as possible, how far right is too far right?

Who is Paul Nehlen? That would be the correct answer if the question came up on the “Jeopardy” TV show.

As PJM reported, Nehlen is one of the GOP establishment’s November problems. The man accused of being a white supremacist and anti-Semite is campaigning to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin.

Ward and her husband backed Nehlen’s campaign in August 2016 before Ryan announced his retirement. She even joined Nehlen on a talk radio show and said she and he offered “so much hope to the people that the GOP establishment, that aura of impermeability and impenetrable strength that they have is being punctured.”

Ward also tweeted a photo of them together at a D.C. event.

But now, Ward has decided she doesn’t need or want Nehlen anymore.

In a statement to CNN, Ward planted the marker that shows how far right is too far right in Arizona, at least as of last week.

Referring to Nehlen, she admitted “our paths crossed a few times,” but stressed “recent views espoused by Nehlen are outrageous and antithetical to my own.”

“Nehlen and other fringe elements who hold similar views have absolutely no place in the Republican Party,” Ward said.