For the second straight election cycle, Kelli Ward is challenging a prominent Arizona senator in a Republican primary. And while Ward came up short against Sen. John McCain in 2016, the possibility of someone giving Sen. Jeff Flake a run for his money next year is increasingly possible.
Running against Flake as a Donald Trump-style conservative populist, Ward is taking on one of the president’s fiercest Republican critics — as opposed to a political icon and former presidential nominee such as McCain.
Eric Beach, who joined the Ward campaign last month as its top strategist, said, “She’s starting it as the front-runner, not the insurgent candidate,” when asked during a Sept. 6 interview to compare the biggest differences in Ward’s 2016 and 2018 campaigns.
Ward came within 12 points of McCain in August 2016 and beat him in 5 of the state’s 15 counties. He easily won what some consider the most important one — Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.
And Flake has at least one thing going for him: a voting record mostly aligned with conservatives over his 16-plus years in Congress, where he served in the House of Representatives starting in 2001 before being elected to the Senate in 2012.
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