Twice-failed US Senate hopeful Kelli Ward to run for Arizona GOP chair
PHOENIX — Dr. Kelli Ward, who has twice run for U.S. Senate and lost, is now seeking a different seat: The head of the Arizona Republican Party.
Ward announced her candidacy for chair on Monday, saying in an email that “it is time to finally unite our party.
“The hard work begins today, and it starts with new leadership at the top that will work tirelessly to bring together all Republicans and usher in an overwhelming 2020 victory for our candidates at every level of government,” Ward’s statement read.
Party spokesman Robert Maxwell told The Associated Press that the current Party Chairman, Jonathan Lines, is expected to seek a second term, but had no further comment Monday on Ward’s announcement.
The chairman election will take place on Jan. 26 and will be voted on by the newly elected state committeemembers from each district or county committee.
This will be Ward’s first run for state GOP chair: She previously lost bids for Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016 against the late Sen. John McCain and in 2018 for outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat.
Republican Jon Kyl was appointed to McCain’s seat and Democrat Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema was elected to Flake’s seat over Republican Martha McSally.
Despite her campaign losses, Ward said those two statewide efforts have given her insight into what Republican voters want and an understanding of the issues that others don’t have.
The physician from Lake Havasu City said she’ll focus on changing GOP messaging on education and health care that she says has been poorly managed.
She said she supports school choice, and public school teachers, but that GOP message hasn’t resonated. The same is true with health care.
“I think that as the GOP chairperson I can help us at the state level, at the local level and at the national level to make sure that our messaging and our strategy are appropriate so that we take the state from the purple that’s it’s become under the last two GOP leaders and become strongly right once again,” she said.
The state party has been fractured for years between moderates who embrace business-friendly strategies and avoid hot-button social issues and a more conservative wing that has embraced the tea party and President Donald Trump’s initiatives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.