Martha McSally is in a weird place. Arizona’s junior Senator is fighting hard to keep the seat she was appointed to a year ago, but she’s finding a tough challenge from Democrats who’ve put up a strong opponent in Mark Kelly, a centrist with name recognition and an impressive resume.
Democrats have identified Arizona as a battleground state in 2020, and activists are working hard to turn the state blue this November. Among Republicans, she’s found growing competition from conservative opponents who don’t think she leans far enough to the right. Those opponents include Daniel McCarthy, a Tucson businessman who was in Lake Havasu City on Monday and Tuesday and seems to be gaining some traction in his campaign.
So what’s an embattled politician to do to get the buzz back? Attack the media, for starters. You might have seen an internet video in the last few weeks showing a confrontation between McSally and CNN reporter Manu Raju, in which she brushes off Raju’s question about the impeachment by calling him a “liberal hack.” If you somehow missed the video clips on social media, McSally made sure you saw it elsewhere as she appeared on a number of cable news programs to defend her statements, and immediately started hawking “liberal hack” T-shirts as a campaign fundraiser.
It was a move that played well with constituents back home, and probably helped to invigorate an otherwise anemic fundraising campaign. It’s disappointing, however, that McSally lowered herself to such theatrics instead of rising above a petty personal conflict with a television reporter she apparently doesn’t like.
Of course, confrontations between politicians and members of the media are nothing new. Even Thomas Jefferson, that champion of the free press who helped create the constitutional amendments enshrining its role in American society, complained of the partisan turn newspapers had taken in the early 19th Century: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” he wrote in a letter to a colleague. “Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
In other words, Jefferson was calling out what he saw as “fake news.” Right or wrong, McSally was simply playing her part in a long political tradition of bashing the press.
So we know where McSally stands on CNN and the general news media. We have a much less clear idea about where she stands on issues that are important to rural Arizona. She certainly votes along party lines but she’s spent very little time in this part of the state, so Mohave County voters haven’t had the chance to get to know her very well beyond what they’ve seen in the media (run by liberal hacks or otherwise).
To be fair, the same can be said of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, but it’s a bit more surprising that McSally, a Republican, hasn’t deemed it necessary to personally campaign in Mohave County, a stalwart GOP stronghold in Arizona. Fortunately, that appears to be changing soon. On Saturday, Feb. 22, McSally will make one of her first visits to Havasu since taking office. She’s a featured guest at the local GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, where she’ll join a crowded field of honorees including Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar. We hope McSally takes the opportunity to demonstrate to voters how she’s representing rural Arizona interests in Washington.
— Today’s News-Herald