by Jim Nintzel
We mentioned last week that former Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot Martha McSally was considering jumping into the April 17 GOP primary for the special election to complete the term of Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned from Congress on Jan. 25.
McSally is preparing to announce her entrance into the Congressional District 8 race tomorrow afternoon at Zinburger's Grant Road location, according to Sam Stone, her communications director.
Stone says that McSally is "absolutely" intent on running in the regular election for the new Congressional District 2 later this year. Congressional District 2, created as part of Arizona's redistricting process, covers much of the same ground as Congressional District 8, although it does not include GOP-heavy precincts in Marana, Oro Valley and SaddleBrooke. CD2 is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, eliminating the GOP edge in CD8.
Republicans Jesse Kelly, Dave Sitton and state Sen. Frank Antenori are already in the GOP race in the special election.
State Rep. Matt Heinz is the only Democrat in the race so far, but it's expected that Ron Barber, who has been Giffords' district director since her election in 2006, will get into the race this week. Heinz has said he'll drop out and concentrate on the regular election for CD2 if Barber gets into the special election for CD8.
From McSally's Facebook page:
Colonel Martha McSally was a pilot in the United States Air Force. She was the first American woman to fly in combat since the 1991 lifting of the prohibition of women in combat. McSally is also the first woman to command a USAF fighter squadron, the 354th Fighter Squadron (354 FS) based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. McSally is an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot.
McSally graduated from St. Mary Academy - Bay View and then the United States Air Force Academy in 1988. She earned a Master's degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She earned her wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas and was initially assigned as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP) in the T-37. She was selected for Lead-in Fighter Training (LIFT) in 1993, completed the Replacement Training Unit for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, was assigned to an operational A-10 squadron and was deployed to Kuwait in January 1995. During that deployment, she flew combat patrol over Iraq under Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone. In 2000, she reported to Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a temporary assignment in support of Operation Southern Watch. In July 2004, she took command of the A-10 equipped 354th Fighter Squadron, and was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan under Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, where she employed weapons in combat for the first time. In 2005, McSally and her squadron were awarded the David C. Shilling Award, given by the Air Force Association for the best aerospace contribution to national defense.