Former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, so far the leading Republican candidate to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), on Wednesday afternoon declared Flake’s retirement a “victory” and pitched herself as the “cure” for an anemic Congress.
“Jeff Flake stepping down yesterday was a big victory for voters of Arizona and the citizens of this country. Because we have got an optimistic path forward,” Ward told MSNBC’s Katy Tur.
Tur asked Ward if she agreed with Flake’s assessment that Trump is dangerous to American democracy. “I don’t,” Ward replied.
“What I agree with Sen. Flake is that there is a serious illness in Washington, D.C., and it is contagious, but it is swampitis and thank goodness we have a doctor who’s going to be coming to Washington to heal those ills,” she added, later clarifying that she is that doctor.
Ward, known for her fierce support of Trump and her willingness to engage with chemtrail conspiracy theorists, touted herself as an outsider who will prioritize Trump’s agenda.
She said that the Senate has “become an obstructionary body” due to “problems with the D.C. insider crowd pandering to special interests rather than listening to voters.” Ward said voters want Republicans to secure the border, cut taxes and repeal Obamacare.
“The Republican Party has to get its act together and put those things on the President’s desk. That’s why 2018 will be a watershed election for strong conservatives, me included, as well as others across the country,” she said on MSNBC.
At one point described Ward also herself as an “Americanist,” though it’s not entirely clear what she meant by the term, which is typically used to describe an academic who studies American culture.
Ward has been backed by Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist now hell-bent on electing far-right conservatives to Congress. Now that Flake has dropped out of the race, however, Republicans will likely recruit a more established politician to run for the Senate seat against Ward.