August 5, 2020 Media

Groundhog Day: McSally Making the Same Mistakes that Lost Her Last Election

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Jen Cox, Campaign Manager, Mark Kelly for Senate

Re: Groundhog Day: McSally Making the Same Mistakes that Lost Her Last Election

DATE: August 4th, 2020


Call it Primary Day or call it Groundhog Day, Senator Martha McSally is in a familiar position: running an aimless, negative campaign and failing to defend her health care record against a much better-funded and better-liked candidate in former combat pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly, who remains focused on the issues that matter to Arizonans.

“McSally has scar tissue” from 2018, as one Republican observer put it. And many don’t believe she’s improved as a candidate or learned many lessons from that loss.

[Cook Political Report, 7/23/20]

Despite at least $10.5 million in TV spending by McSally and Republicans — millions of it negative — recent public polling from CNN, NBC/Marist, and Public Policy Polling shows McSally stuck in the low 40s, a dangerous place to be as a well-defined “incumbent.” 

Arizona is a battleground state, and polling will shift. But it’s clear that McSally is committed to repeating the same failed 2018 playbook.

Groundhog Day 

Despite a history of blaming others for her political failures, Senator McSally’s greatest problem has always been herself — as both Arizona Republicans and Trump allies have recognized.

In 2020, as in 2018, McSally has proven that she will do and say anything to win (or lose) an election. In the process, she has alienated Democrats, Independents, and Republicans with her lack of independence, negative campaigning, and record of siding with her corporate donors and party leaders over Arizonans, especially on health care.

Despite voting with her party leaders 97% of the time, Republicans have observed that McSally is still struggling to consolidate support from “the right flank of the GOP base, which she’s long struggled to pacify.”

“I think [McSally] felt compelled, even having the appointment, to clothe herself in that populist Trump, hard-core right rhetoric. But I don’t know that it’s genuine,” said Republican strategist Chuck Coughlin.
[Reuters, 7/27/20]

That’s because Arizonans want “a person who cares about them as their representative,” as former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl said in June. And McSally does not fit that bill — particularly on the key issue of health care.

Health Care The “Defining” Issue

Health care continues to be the “defining issue” in this race, and that is very bad news for Senator McSally, who has repeatedly voted to undermine pre-existing condition coverage protections, supported a plan to voucherize Medicare and increase costs for seniors, and continues to back her party’s lawsuit that would eliminate coverage protections and increase seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.  

Mark Kelly has focused on protecting pre-existing condition coverage and lowering health care and prescription drug costs. In 2020, as in 2018, McSally has responded to “getting [her] ass kicked” on health care by misrepresenting her record in false TV ads that are “misleading voters.

Senator McSally has already run at least four TV ads, some featuring former staff and Republican operatives, falsely claiming to protect people with pre-existing conditions. And independent fact checkers have once again determined that her claims about protecting people with pre-existing conditions are “false” and “mislead[ing].” 

McSally claims she will “always protect those with preexisting conditions.” But nothing in her voting record […] supports this claim.

[PolitiFact, 6/25/20]

Desperate attacks and misdirection cannot cover up Senator McSally’s health care record. Arizonans know where she stands on this key issue, and they do not trust her.

Mark Kelly Focused on What Matters

As the state is impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Mark Kelly remains laser-focused on the issues that matter to Arizonans like slowing the spread of the virus, having the backs of small business owners, supporting essential workers and those who have lost their jobs, and providing direct relief for Arizona’s cities and towns on the front lines of the pandemic. He continues to build a strong case for why he will be the independent voice that Arizona needs to help handle this crisis, lower health care costs, and rebuild a strong economy focused on the future.  

The Kelly campaign also carries a significant cash on hand advantage — $21.2 million to $10.9 million — heading into the final three months of this race. 

We know from 2018 that Senator McSally will do anything to win — including smearing her political opponents. So, it is no surprise that she began this campaign with a negative attack ad, and has since released numerous others.

Arizonans know to expect more of the same desperate attacks from Senator McSally, her campaign, and her Republican allies. And it’s just another reason why they will once again vote to keep her out of the U.S. Senate.

This memo can also be viewed in its entirety online here.