Former Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward has gotten her first primary endorsement from a member of Arizona’s congressional delegation for her Senate bid.
Rep. Paul Gosar’s R-Ariz., endorsement of Ward came with a rebuke of his House colleague, Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who is leading the GOP primary field in fundraising and polling.
Gosar called McSally “likeable personally” but said she is “very inconsistent politically” and a “Never Trumper” in a statement announcing his endorsement.
“None of us can count on Martha keeping a campaign promise as she will fall for whatever the D.C. elite tells her to do at the time,” he said.
The statement echoes Ward’s push to outflank McSally from the right — she’s sought to frame McSally as insufficiently conservative for the GOP electorate while pitching herself as an outsider in the model of Trump.
McSally’s camp pushed back by framing the congresswoman as a loyal supporter of Trump in Congress.
“Rep. Gosar is a good man who cares about his constituents, but the facts are the facts,” McSally spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said in a statement, noting that McSally has voted with Trump 97 percent of the time to Gosar’s 77 percent.
“If he voted with the President as much as Martha, we could accomplish even more for Arizonans.”
McSally has the backing of the state's former GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, an early Trump endorser. And she’s taken more conservative stances on issues like immigration recently, stances her allies have boosted as they seek to help her win the GOP nod.
Gosar is one of the more conservative lawmakers in Congress and has been a controversial voice at times. He made headlines last year for questioning whether a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last year was “created by the left” for political gain. A counter-protester died in violence surrounding that rally.
Ward and McSally are running in the August 28 primary along with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.