McSally receives Trump endorsement weeks after attempting to distance herself from him

The Arizona senator reportedly pressed for the president to support her 2020 special election bid.

McSally receives Trump endorsement weeks after attempting to distance herself from him
President Donald Trump again endorsed appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Tuesday, weeks after she attempted to distance herself from him. (Photo credit: Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump this week endorsed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who is hoping to win a November 2020 special election to carry out the final two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s term, weeks after McSally attempted to distance herself from the president following his repeated attacks on her predecessor.

Calling her a “warrior,” Trump praised McSally on Tuesday for being “fully supportive” of his administration.

“A brave former fighter jet pilot and warrior, Senator Martha McSally of Arizona has done an outstanding job in D.C., and is fully supportive of our agenda – she is with us all the way,” he tweeted. “Martha is strong on Crime and Borders, the 2nd Amendment, and loves our Military and Vets. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

McSally — who was appointed to her current seat last year after GOP Sen. Jon Kyl, who had been appointed to carry out the remainder of McCain’s term, returned to the private sector — reportedly pressed for the endorsement, despite Trump’s unpopularity in her state and the fact that she became the first Republican senate nominee to lose in Arizona since 1988 after he endorsed her last year.


McSally ran that campaign as a full-throated Trump supporter and lost by approximately 2 percentage points to now-Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D).

After her historic defeat, McSally’s campaign put out a post-mortem blaming everyone but herself for her defeat — including Trump.

The campaign wrote:

A significant segment of the AZ GOP was hostile to the President. In internal polling during the primary, President Trump never broke 80% favorability among Republican voters. A certain segment of AZ Republicans was outright hostile to President Trump, and was against [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh[‘s] appointment. This segment of moderate Republicans, especially women, proved very difficult to bring home to a Republican candidate that supported President Trump and the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh.

McSally also initially came out against Trump in 2016, refusing to endorse her party’s presidential nominee and calling the now-infamous Access Hollywood video featuring him bragging about sexually assaulting women “disgusting” and “unacceptable.”


After Trump took office in early 2017, McSally called his early days “tremendously bumpy” and noted that he she was “concerned about” his “not shifting from campaigning to governing.”

Although McSally explicitly promised as a House candidate in 2014 that she would vote against her own party more than 20% of the time, she abandoned many of her long-held positions and voted with Trump 97% of the time in her final term in the House.

Despite losing her 2018 Senate race, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) appointed McSally to fill two years of McCain’s unexpired term in December. Her voting record with Trump started to decline slightly, as she voted against his refusal to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria and against his plan to lift sanctions on Russian companies.

When the Trump administration ordered the name of the USS John McCain hidden during his state visit to Japan last month, McSally finally spoke out against the administration and Trump’s repeated disrespect for McCain.


“I am appalled to hear of the allegations surrounding the USS John S. McCain,” she said at the time. She demanded “a full investigation into who ordered it and what occurred.”

With retired astronaut Mark Kelly running as a Democrat, McSally already faces a dead-heat race for 2020.