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Rep. Martha McSally announces run for Flake’s Senate seat

PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Martha McSally has officially become a senate candidate after weeks of staying mum on the subject.

McSally, of Tucson, launched her run early Friday to try to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, calling on the Republican Party to “grow a pair of ovaries” in her first campaign video.

The 51-year-old will face former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the primary.

Flake surprised his party and others in October when he said he wouldn’t run for re-election.

McSally first reportedly announced to congressional colleagues that she was going to run in early November. U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) told the Associated Press that she had told them but weeks passed without a formal declaration.

She didn’t answer questions about a potential Senate run at a public gathering a week after speculation began. However, she had secured more than $1.8 million for her campaign by this week.

Fox Business reported that she has been assured by officials with the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC that she would receive financial backing.

The retired Air Force combat pilot, who, in her announcement video said, “After taking on terrorists in combat, the liberals in the Senate won’t scare me one bit,” has been in the House since 2014. She succeeded Democrat Ron Barber in the 2nd District.

She easily won re-election in 2016, running unopposed in the primary and then beating Matt Heinz in the general election.

McSally planned to fly herself to Tucson, Phoenix and Prescott on Friday to tell voters of her decision to run.

Ward has quite the jump on McSally. The osteopath from Lake Havasu City announced in fall 2016 that she would challenge Flake and has the support of Sen. Rand Paul and former White House adviser Steve Bannon spoke at a fundraiser in Scottsdale for her in October.

Ward has been a vocal supporter of the president, while McSally didn’t publicly endorse him.

Arpaio also announced this week that he would run for the seat as well.

“I am running for the U.S. Senate from the great state of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to make America great again,” the ex-sheriff said in a release.

“If the (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell establishment runs another ‘Never Trumper’ in Arizona like Martha McSally, expect the full weight of the president’s America First movement to come down upon her like a ton of bricks,” a close adviser to Bannon, Andy Surabian, told U.S. News and World Report.

Before aiming for Flake, Ward had set her sights on Sen. John McCain’s job in 2015.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running for the seat.

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