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Dark-money ads target Martha McSally in Arizona’s US Senate race

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PHOENIX – A dark-money group opposing Republican Sen. Martha McSally began airing a new ad Thursday blasting her recent vote on a health care measure, the latest effort by Democrats and their allies to focus the top-tier Senate race on an issue that worked well for them in 2018.

McSally has been the focus of a barrage of ads ahead of the 2020 election during what is typically a quiet period before campaigning ramps up.

The latest is part of an ongoing seven-figure ad blitz by a group known as Advancing AZ, said spokesman Les Braswell. The group does not disclose its donors.

The ad faults McSally for her vote last month not to overturn a Trump administration health care rule that could make it easier for insurance companies to sell policies that don’t meet the minimum standards in former President Barack Obama’s health law. The resolution failed in a vote that fell mostly along party lines.

The Trump administration said the rule would help more people afford coverage. Critics say it opens the door to “junk” insurance policies that are cheap because they don’t cover much, including pre-existing conditions, leaving patients at risk for hefty bills and denied claims.

No states have requested permission under the new Trump administration rule to allow insurers to sell plans that don’t meet standards in the Obama health law, known as the Affordable Care Act.

The ad says McSally’s vote doesn’t square with her repeated promises to protect health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, saying “once again Martha McSally is simply lying.”

McSally’s campaign manager, Dylan Lefler, reiterated her support for covering people with pre-existing conditions.

“She meets people every week with pre-existing conditions who can’t afford health insurance or their out of pocket costs because the Affordable Care Act is failing them,” Lefler said in a statement.

The focus on health care and pre-existing conditions revives an attack that worked well for Democrats in Arizona and elsewhere in the 2018 election. McSally lost her campaign for Arizona’s other Senate seat after Democrats pounded her for repeated votes to repeal the Obama health care law. She was later appointed to the late John McCain’s vacant Senate seat and is now fighting to finish his term.

With the barrage of early ads and McSally facing a fundraising deficit against retired astronaut Mark Kelly, her expected Democratic opponent, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come to her aid with ads touting her support for free trade and a water conservation plan.

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