ARIZONA NEWS

Arpaio, Ward welcome controversial figures to campaigns ahead of primary

Aug 20, 2018, 5:30 PM | Updated: 9:36 pm

(AP Photos)...

(AP Photos)

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — The primary election for the U.S. Senate race in Arizona is days away and Senate GOP candidates Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio have welcomed controversial figures to their campaigns in an apparent effort to align themselves with President Donald Trump’s base.

In an interview with MSNBC’s “Kacie DC” on Sunday, Ward revealed that she would have help from infamous alt-right figure Mike Cernovich, who is most well-known for spreading the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

Pizzagate was a conspiracy theory that claimed that children were being held captive in the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in a child abuse scheme led by Hillary Clinton.

The claim, which was unfounded but caught aflame amid the far-right corners of the internet during the 2016 presidential election, eventually lead to 29-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch firing a military-style assault rifle inside the popular Washington pizzeria in 2016.

And now Ward is seeking Cernovich’s help in an effort to “reach” his audience — which is made up of people like Welch.

“Mike Cernovich has an audience that we want to reach, and that includes Republicans, conservatives, liberals, Democrats, people of all ilk,” Ward said on the MSNBC show.

“So if he is coming on the bus tour, I think that he will have a voice and he will have something that he wants to say.”

Ward, in an interview with NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard late Monday night, said that Cernovich was her “hook” to get reporters interested in the bus tour.

“We need to have a hook to get you guys interested in seeing the bus tour,” Ward said.

“Just having a great candidate is not always enough for the media, sadly, and so you need someone to spin things up.”

But Ward was not the only one linking her wagon to a controversial figure in a last-ditch effort to boost her campaign: Arpaio was also joined on his campaign bus tour Monday by Courtland Sykes.

Sykes was a former Senate GOP candidate who gained notoriety earlier this year when he posted a statement about women’s rights in which he called feminists “she devils,” among other derogatory terms.

In an interview with reporters, Arpaio said he “didn’t check (Sykes’) background” and said he would “take help from anybody.”

The primary election for the Arizona Senate race will take place on Aug. 28.

A recent OH Predictive Insights/ABC15 phone survey showed that U.S. Rep. Martha McSally had a double-digit lead over Ward, her closest rival, ahead of the primary election.

The Tucson politician leads Ward, a former state senator, 47.4 percent to 27 percent. A poll earlier this month had McSally up 35 percent to 27 percent.

Arpaio has fallen from 15 percent to 13.3 percent.

But a June poll of likely voters showed Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leading her Republican rivals in head-to-head match-ups.

Sinema topped Ward 43 percent to 35 percent; McSally 41 percent to 34 percent and Arpaio 45 percent to 28 percent.

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Arpaio, Ward welcome controversial figures to campaigns ahead of primary