A super-PAC closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is firing a warning shot at President Trump ahead of his Tuesday trip to Arizona.
The Senate Leadership Fund is out with a new digital ad slamming a candidate the president has touted against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), for being “crazy” — and borrows a favorite Trump phrase to point out she lost “big league” to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) last year.
“Chemtrail Kelli’s got her head in the clouds with crazy ideas,” the digital ad says after highlighting her hosting a taxpayer-funded town hall to look into conspiracy theories about chemtrails. “Now after losing big-league to John McCain, Chemtrail Kelli says he should resign so she can be senator.”
The ad is set to run for the next three days, bracketing a trip Trump is making to the state where he’s likely to take potshots at Flake.
As TPM wrote this morning, Trump has increasingly been fired up about taking out the sitting senator due to his criticism of the president, tweeting attacks against Flake and touting Ward’s candidacy. Senate Republicans have rallied around Flake, looking to defend him as they worry a divisive and nasty primary could hurt their chances at holding the seat.
The race sets up an almost unheard-of public grudge match between a president and Senate leaders from his own party, as Trump looks to take out one of the Republicans who’s been most critical of him.
Ward may not be the only candidate who runs against Flake, however, as a pair of more serious GOP contenders with close trump ties — Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state party chairman Robert Graham — are also eying bids, with the quiet encouragement of some White House staff.
The ad buy is relatively small — $10,000 for three days of digital spots — but is likely only the opening salvo in what promises to be an expensive and brutal primary.