McSally's Primary Fight is Really About the Arizona Seat Turning Blue in November

Republican candidate for senate Martha McSally's primary against Daniel McCarthy is a battle she's expected to win Tuesday, but the results could foreshadow her losing the general election in November.

McSally has raised a $30 million haul, dwarfing McCarthy who has only raised $511,037, and leading political observers in the state to suggest he has no chance of winning.

"I don't think the primary is even a contest tomorrow, Martha Mcsally will win by a very large margin," Kirk Adams, former chief of staff to Republican Governor Doug Ducey told Newsweek. "Her opponent has run a very strange campaign and has made it a point to alienate as many people as possible in the process."

Adams was referring to McCarthy requesting, and being granted, a meeting with Ducey, before a public about-face that alienated the governor. He also organized and was the lead speaker of an "anti-mask" rally, during which Scottsdale city councilman Guy Phillips mocked the death of George Floyd. His death triggered national protests that continue today.

But while McSally is expected to win, the results will still be mined for clues to how she might fare against former astronaut and Navy combat pilot Mark Kelly, who having raised $45 million, is the best-funded Senate candidate in the country.

"She's going to win but do those voters become Bernie-esque voters and skip the general election?" asked Chuck Coughlin, who served as campaign manager for former Republican Governor Jan Brewer. "I would presume a number of those people would vote for Trump and skip her in November."

The Real Clear Politics polling average for July shows Kelly leading McSally by 6.8 percent.

Coughlin, who does polling in Arizona, told Newsweek that Democratic turnout is up significantly in the early going, with Republican turnout down and unaffiliated or independent voters requesting Democratic Party ballots. That information likely suggests the "highest primary turnout on record," Coughlin said.

"Democratic turnout is higher than Republicans, that's never happened before," he added. "The whole cycle begins to look ominous for Republicans if you're looking at what's happening with primary returns."

McSally and McCarthy did not respond to Newsweek's requests for comment. Kelly's office declined a request to comment.

Democratic lawyer Roy Herrera told Newsweek that McSally's showing Tuesday could accelerate her political isolation, which may come soon if her prospects don't improve.

"McSally has six to eight weeks to show she's a viable candidate or else the national GOP will abandon her," he said. "She has until Labor Day to turn this around before McConnell starts looking around."

Martha mcsally
Sen. from Arizona Martha McSally (R-AZ) wears a mask depicting the Arizona state flag as she listens to testimony during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defense Spectrum Policy and the Impact of the Federal Communications Commissions Ligado Decision on National Security during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on Capitol Hill on May 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Shawn Thew/Getty