Aside from the U.S. Senate race in Tennesee, few other races are drawing as much national attention as the race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona. Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, was not a Trump fan, but Arizona has been a reliable red state that has toyed with the prospect of turning purple in 2018. McSally has been endorsed by Trump but it remains to be seen how much further involved the President will be in this tight race from now until Election Day on November 6.
Before we jump into the polling, here’s a little context for the race, which is historic in a sense for Arizona since the state has never had any female Senators in Congress. However, with two women running, that stat will soon change, as reported by KOLD in Arizona:
1992 was hailed as the “Year of the Woman” when four women were elected to the Senate: Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Carol Moseley Braun and Patty Murray. This surge of females in political office aided in creating a social climate that empowered women. Anita Hill’s historic testimony of sexual harassment at then-nominee Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings transpires during this same societal shift.
The Arizona Senate race resonates as a clear example of the reverberating echoes started decades ago in the “Year of the Woman”.
House Representatives Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) battle not only for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), but also for the historic title of first female senator in Arizona.
Martha McSally is no stranger to firsts—she was the first U.S. female fighter pilot to fly in combat
Arizona was always going to be competitive for either party, it’s a red state, but not deep red. The late Sen. John McCain was a fairly moderate Republican, as is Sen. Jeff Flake who currently holds this seat.
The polling has been tight, and the lead continues to change as a large number of undecided voters haven’t made up their minds yet. It’s OK, they still have some time, but here’s where things stand right now:
A lot of news is being made over the CNN poll giving Sinema a 7-point lead, but we’ll need to wait for another poll to see if that is an outlier of if the race is truly trending in Sinema’s direction.
According to most analysts, Republicans need to hold Arizona, Tennesee, and Texas to retain their Senate majority. If Arizona does go blue in 2018, it’ll be a big pickup for Democrats.
President Trump endorsed McSally, and there have been discussions of him visiting the state for another campaign rally, but now it seems that those plans are in limbo as there is fear his presence could motivate Democratic voters, as reported by AZCentral:
President Donald Trump’s anticipated swing through Arizona in the lead-up to the midterm election is intended to shore up any cracks in the red wall of Republican voters whose turnout in November will be critical to their hold on the U.S. Senate seat.
But it doesn’t come without risks for Republicans in every statewide race down ballot.
As Trump approaches the midway mark of his first term, there seems to be a reluctance to return to Arizona.
Twice in recent weeks, Trump’s campaign penciled in tentative stops in Arizona and then canceled them.
While the White House and Arizona Republicans aren’t revealing their calculations, the dynamics at work are well-known.
The trepidation comes on the part of Arizona Republicans who are worried that a high profile U.S. Senate race, being polarized by Trump, could cost them seats on the down ballot. There is a race for Governor and Republicans would like to hold that important border state solidly in the red column at the state level. If Democrats become more motivated to come vote in the Senate race, they may make it tougher for Republicans in the smaller races who could be overwhelmed by Democratic voter turnout.
As a result, Trump may keep his distance from Arizona unless the McSally campaign decides they need his presence in the state to turn out the Trump base. Keep in mind, however, that Trump only won Arizona by 5 points over Hillary in 2016 which means his support is comparatively not very deep.
Voters will get at least two chances to see McSally and Sinema debate the issues before Election Day. There is a debate set for October 15, in Phoenix, and another debate scheduled for October 16, in Tucson, as AZCentral reports:
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who is running against Republican Martha McSally for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat, has agreed to two debates ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
In a statement released Friday, the three-term congresswoman from Phoenix said she would participate in a proposed Oct. 15 debate in Phoenix hosted by Arizona PBS and The Arizona Republic. Sinema also agreed to an Oct. 16 debate in Tucson, hosted by Arizona Public Media.
Sinema had asked that healthcare be a key topic of debate, because she says it’s the issue she says she hears about most on the campaign trail. It also aligns with a top Democratic campaign priority this year.
Sinema’s announcement comes as she is getting pummeled in political advertisements by McSally and her Republican allies over positions she has taken in the past as an anti-war and Green Party activist, as well as her comments on a 2007 bill in the state Legislature involving stricter penalties for people soliciting prostitutes. Sinema ultimately voted to support an amended version of the legislation to expand offenses of sex trafficking and child prostitution.
McSally, meanwhile, faces her own onslaught of ads on her healthcare record.
On Friday, the left-leaning outside group VoteVets began broadcasting ads hitting McSally for airing ads accusing Sinema of denigrating the service of military members during a 2003 anti-war protest.
“There’s nothing honorable about these attacks on Kyrsten Sinema,” said a veteran in the ad. The ad references a PolitiFact.org fact check that declared McSally’s ad “mostly false.”
In agreeing to the U.S. Senate debates, Sinema said was time to focus on “issues Arizonans care about most, not petty attacks and political distractions.”
If you’re a voter in Arizona, don’t miss those important debates in October so you can learn more about each candidate and understand their positions on the important issues. September is marching on and once October hits, every race will move to another level of intensity, especially in these highly contested toss up Senate races.