Dr. Kelli Ward had a campaign appearance in Yuma on Saturday night. Yuma is a conservative, military and agriculture town. She’s running in the Republican primary for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of US Senator Jeff Flake. Yuma was the last stop at the end of a whirlwind bus tour around the state.
I was there and asked Dr. Ward about gun issues beyond the usual “I support the Second Amendment” boilerplate.
I arrived before 6 p.m. and ran into many of the local political activists. There was significant media presence as well. I spoke with a reporter from Japan who works out of New York City.
It was clear from the turnout that Dr. Ward is getting much more attention this year than she did in 2016 when she challenged incumbent Senator John McCain for the nomination. I had attended a similar rally in 2016 and the attendance then was about a quarter of what it was at this rally.
Ward has grown as a candidate in two years. Her manner was polished and she had a strong command of the issues. She was able to bring the crowd to its feet in standing ovations. The campaign stop reminded me of what I have seen at Trump rallies in miniature form. The enthusiasm of the crowd was high and contagious.
A big difference from 2016 is the enormous amount of media ads running in opposition to Dr. Ward in this election cycle. It’s one of the worst cases of taking words out of context and creating a false image that I have seen in Arizona. All of which is legal under the First Amendment, as I explained to the Japanese reporter.
The contrast of the upbeat, enthusiastic campaign to the negative radio ads that bombarded me from the car radio was startling. Will Dr. Ward be able to survive the combination of attacks by the McCain machine, the McConnell establishment, and dominant media bias? If she does, it will show how much the media has lost its ability to shape the narrative.
Near the end of the event, I asked Dr. Ward if she supported national carry reciprocity, and her position on the Hearing Protection Act.
She knew about both issues and told me that she supported both bills. She said a person should be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights anywhere in the country, which is why she supported national reciprocity.
She reminded me that as an Arizona state senator, she had authored a bill to decriminalize suppressors before the HPA was introduced into the U.S. Senate. Her bill would have removed Arizona’s bans on suppressors, short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns, and nun-chucks. It was a common-sense reform of Arizona’s weapons laws.
Dr. Ward is the most Second Amendment-friendly candidate in the race for the Senate (her opponents are US Rep. Martha McSally and Sheriff Joe Arpaio) and would represent Second Amendment supporters far better than either Flake or former Senator McCain.
Her opponents’ supporters claim Dr. Ward is less likely to beat the eventual Democrat candidate in the November election. That remains to be seen. Her opponents for the nomination have raised more money so far. Keeping your political independence from Washington kingmakers has a price.
If Dr. Ward is able to gain the Republican nomination, she will show a level of grass-roots support that makes it plausible for her to beat the Democrat nominee in November.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.