Fractious Arizona Senate race heads into final hours

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Republican Rep. Martha McSally barnstormed rural Arizona on Monday while Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema dashed around its urban core in Phoenix as the congresswomen tried to drum up every last vote in the final day of their neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race.

The candidates’ itinerary and rhetoric was a microcosm of their contest, with McSally trying to keep the state’s traditional GOP voters in her column while Sinema tried to cast herself as a nonpartisan problem solver only incidentally attached to the Democratic party.

McSally was joined by the entire statewide GOP ticket, from Gov. Doug Ducey on down, as she tried to remind Arizona Republicans to continue their decade-long stint of winning every statewide race.

“You guys are my wingmen and my wingwomen,” McSally, a former combat pilot, said to supporters at a stop in Flagstaff. “And the only way we’re going to get victory tomorrow is if everybody digs deep, everybody does their part. You can sleep in 32 hours.”

Sinema handed out doughnuts at the downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University, high-fiving voters, posing for selfies and exchanging hugs with longtime friends -- she teaches at the school and has four degrees from there.

“I feel confident we’ll win this election because we have the support of voters up and down this state,” Sinema told student reporters outside the university’s journalism school. “They care about access to health care and they care about their kids and themselves having access to quality education.”

Sinema then swung by a popular Mexican restaurant, where Ron Horsford, a 50-year-old software developer, identified himself as a Republican and said he planned to vote for her.

“I like what she says -- ‘I’m going to work with the other side,’ while the other one seems to make things up,” Horsford said.

Sinema needs Republicans like Horsford if she’s to win on Tuesday. A onetime Green Party activist, Sinema transformed herself into a centrist Democrat. She’s tried to position herself as a nonpartisan problem-solver to pull moderate Republicans to her side.

McSally, meanwhile, has tried to rally the base of her party, which is usually enough for Republicans to win statewide in Arizona, where they outnumber Democrats. But McSally started the race on the defensive over her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and has tried to plant doubts about Sinema by hammering her as a closet radical who committed “treason” during her days as an anti-war activist in 2002 and 2003.

She started the day in Flagstaff before jetting to Kingman and Lake Havasu and then wrapping up with a major rally in Prescott. Addressing a few dozen supporters at a hotel in traditionally liberal Flagstaff, McSally tried to link Sinema to the opioid crisis, saying the Democrat would lead to a weak border that allows drugs into the country.

“This is about lives. This is about public safety,” McSally said. “This is about the future of our communities. And this is hidden in plain sight.”

One spectator wished her luck. “We don’t need luck,” McSally replied. “We need votes. Votes and prayers.”


Riccardi reported from Phoenix.


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