Tonight is the first big showdown between appointed U.S. Sen. Martha McSally and her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, the former NASA astronaut who is leading in the polls.
McSally and Kelly will meet at 7 p.m. for a 90-minute debate that’s being moderated by Phoenix NPR station KJZZ’s Steve Goldstein, Ted Simons of Arizona PBS, Lorraine Rivera of Arizona Public Media and Yvone Wingett Sanchez of the Arizona Republic.
You can watch the debate in Tucson on PBS 6.
Ahead of the debate, Kelly rolled out new TV ad from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat who defeated McSally in 2018. (McSally was later appointed to a U.S. Senate seat by Gov. Doug Ducey to finish the term of the late John McCain.)
Sinema charges that “McSally will say anything to get elected” and adds that the Republican incumbent hitting Kelly with the same kind of “false attacks” that she tried against Sinema two years ago.
“But Martha’s worst lies are the ones about her own record,” Sinema concludes. “She voted to eliminate protections for pre-existing health conditions. An Arizona senator should be an independent voice that puts everyday people first. That’s why I support Mark.”
Polling shows Sinema is considerably more popular that McSally in the state. At the start of 2020, McSally was ranked among the most unpopular senators in the country, with 37 percent of those surveyed approving of the job she’s doing and 40 percent disapproving, giving her a with a net approval of -3. Sinema, by contrast, had an approval rating of 44 percent and a disapproval rating oof 30 percent, giving her a net approval rating of +14.
Piggybacking on the theme that McSally can’t be trusted, the Arizona Democratic Party rolled out a new website, MisleadingMcSally.com, linking to various news outlets and fact-checking sites that have called out McSally for false or dishonest statements.
Among the areas that the site explores: McSally’s record on preexisting conditions, which she herself admitted was a major vulnerability in her unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Senate. Democrats link back to articles by PolitiFact and the Washington Post fact checker that recount McSally’s previous votes for eliminating protections for people with preexisting conditions by repealing the Affordable Care Act to counter McSally’s vow that she will “always” protect people with preexisting conditions. It also reminds readers that McSally has not opposed the Trump administration’s effort to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle the entire Affordable Care Act.