A year ago, Republican Martha McSally left her House seat behind only to lose a high-profile Senate election. Now, McSally is an appointed U.S. Senator in the state’s other seat and gearing up for another high-profile campaign with the majority potentially at stake.
Arizona is the only state in the country where the candidates for a competitive Senate general election seem to be in place. Neither McSally nor Democratic candidate Mark Kelly seems likely to face a credible primary challenge at this stage. The two aviators—the former for the Air Force, the latter for the Navy—are just getting started, laying the groundwork for an 18-month battle.
McSally was appointed to the late Sen. John McCain’s seat on Jan. 3 of this year, less than two months after she lost an open-seat race, 50-48 percent, following GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s retirement. While McSally fell short in her first statewide race against Kyrsten Sinema, some Republicans are optimistic that she’ll fare better in a presidential year.
Of course, losing one race does not mean that a candidate is destined to lose future races. Just last year, Democrat Angie Craig and Republican Jim Hagedorn flipped Minnesota districts, two years after losing races. McSally will run with lessons learned from her previous campaign in a different political environment. Her 2020 race will include the backdrop of a crowded Democratic presidential primary, and Republicans hope freshmen like New York City Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez…