The Skinny

The Case Against Martha McSally

Appointed U.S. Sen. Martha McSally wasted no time in declaring she would push through President Donald Trump's choice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Within 15 minutes of tweeting her condolences to Ginsburg's family, McSally tweeted: "This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump's next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court."

Democrat Mark Kelly, the retired NASA astronaut and former Navy combat pilot who is challenging McSally, said the same thing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2016: The winners of this year's presidential election and Senate races should decide the future of the seat.

"When it comes to making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Washington shouldn't rush that process for political purposes," Kelly said. "This is a decision that will impact Arizonans, especially with an upcoming case about health care and protections for pre-existing conditions. Arizonans will begin casting their ballots in a few weeks and I believe the people elected to the presidency and Senate in November should fill this vacancy."

McSally's call to give the seat to Trump's appointee is just another example of how McSally, who once portrayed herself as an independent representative for Arizona, has fallen into line as one of Trump's most loyal minions.

Whether it will help McSally on the campaign trail remains to be seen. McSally has trailed Kelly in more than a dozen September polls. A Fox News poll released Sept. 2 showed the former NASA astronaut with staggering 17-point lead over the appointed Republican incumbent; a Sienna College/New York Times poll released Sept. 18 showed Kelly with an 8-point edge. But a Monmouth University released Sept. 18 poll showed that in low-turnout race among likely voters, Kelly led by just 1 percentage point. (In a high turnout race, Kelly led by 4 percentage points among likely voters.)

Based on the polling average between Sept. 4 and Sept. 16, gives Kelly a 6.7 percent edge over McSally, with Kelly's averaged support at 50 percent and McSally's average at 43.3 percent.

Team McSally tried to skew the averages with poll released this week showing Kelly with a 2-point lead. But unlike many other polls that are out there, pollster Fabrizio, Lee & Associates gave very few details about the polling and released no crosstabs.

The McSally poll did note that surveyed voters thought McSally was more likely to stand up to China and do more to prevent illegal immigration. But it didn't include any details about who those voters trusted more in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

McSally has done next to nothing to deal with the impact of the virus. She initially opposed the $600-a-week unemployment payment and—other than a bogus stunt to keep those benefits coming for an extra week when they ran out—hasn't fought her party's leadership to keep those benefits available. She's opposed aid to state and local governments dealing with the added expenses related to the pandemic, calling it a bailout for Democratic cities like Chicago. And while she has railed against China for not being forthright about the impact of the virus, she's said that it's no big deal that Trump confessed to investigative reporter Bob Woodward that he downplayed the severity of the virus when it first arrived. Asked about Trump's confession that he himself had lied about the virus, McSally told reporters: "You guys are awful."

Yes, that's right: McSally thinks it's just terrible that members of the press would ask her for her reaction to the news that Trump confessed to lying to the people about the pandemic that has killed 200,000 Americans and counting.

Arizonans just haven't taken to McSally. Two years ago, she became the first Republican to lose a U.S. Senate seat in the state in three decades when she was beaten by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. As of this week, gives Kelly a 78 percent of chance of winning the race; puts the race in the "tilt Democratic" category; and said it was leaning Democratic.

As she crisscrosses the state, McSally dismisses fake polls but in her fundraising appeals, she confesses that she is in desperate straits. Kelly has consistently outraised McSally in the race; as of last month, he had raised more than $45 million and had more than $21 million in the bank for the final stretch, while McSally had raised about $30 million and had about $11 million left to spend. But independent campaign committees have also been spending at least $30 million, much of it on TV and digital advertising.

Those ads—many of them based on claims independent fact-checkers have dismissed as false or misleading—may move numbers between now and Election Day.

But the truth remains that McSally has repeatedly voted to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. McSally is simply lying when she says she will "always" protect those with preexisting conditions; she's already voted to strip them of those protections with no replacement in sight, unless you count the "plan" that Trump keeps promising to reveal in a few weeks.

And with her rush to confirm another one of Trump's justices, McSally is once again pushing to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, as the court will once again be expected to determine the constitutionality of the law. McSally says she has no position on that lawsuit as it's outside her lane as a U.S. senator, but the Supreme Court seat makes it plain that she does have a position: She wants the ACA gone. Her promises to protect people with preexisting conditions are just more bullshit from a candidate who has been full of it since she launched her political career in Southern Arizona eight years ago.