The Skinny

Awkward Positions


The RNC says Mark Kelly needs to let Arizonans know where he stands. Does the same go for Martha McSally?

As former astronaut mark kelly pursues the Democratic nomination for the 2020 U.S. Senate race for the seat now held by appointed Republican Martha McSally, the RNC has been doing its best to cook up some line of attack.

The general thrust: A few weeks into his campaign, Kelly hasn't yet told voters where he stands on a laundry list of issues.

"Mark Kelly's continued refusal to answer where he stands on issues important to Arizonans says a lot—it says he's afraid of the backlash for supporting the Democrat Party's costly agenda," RNC spokesperson Renae Eze said via press release.

We tend to agree that voters should know the positions of politicians who want to serve in office—and we're looking forward to finding out where Kelly stands on a whole host of issues.

But Eze might want to reconsider her line of attack, given who she is defending. After all, if a failure to take a stand on a controversial issue is disqualifying, McSally might as well forget about running for Senate again next year.

McSally—appointed to the U.S. Senate after losing her 2018 bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema—has famously avoided telling Arizonans where she stands on controversial issues throughout her career. She was afraid to hold town halls when she represented Congressional District 2. She does all she can to avoid debating primary or general election opponents. She has sidestepped or ignored questions about all manner of tough votes throughout her entire career, to the point where her dodging and weaving became a joke. Remember when political prognosticator Stu Rothenberg tried to get McSally to say how she would have voted on a deal that ended a 2013 government shutdown? Here was Rothenberg: "And yet, though I asked that question repeatedly in an Oct. 29 interview, McSally did her best to bob and weave, clearly intent on not giving a "yes" or a "no." Instead, I heard a lot of baloney about not wanting to look backward and only wanting to look ahead."

Or remember just two years ago, when McSally was asked how she would vote on one of the many efforts to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a GOP healthcare plan? She told Hill reporter Cristina Marco: "I'm not publicly sharing my position." Spoiler warning: McSally ended up voting for the bill, which removed protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions—a provision that McSally has said she supports, except for all the times she voted to repeal it.

It's true that McSally has become a little more forthcoming since she went for the statewide Senate gig and embraced President Donald Trump. (During her 2016 congressional campaign, you may recall, McSally didn't tell voters whether she would even vote for Trump—once again dodging a tough question.) But that embrace of Trump—something she can't shake now—cost her the 2018 race for Senate and may well cost her the 2020 race.

All that said, we're waiting to see how she'll vote on whether to support Trump's emergency declaration to snatch away money from the military to build his dumb wall, especially since—surprise, surprise—McSally is once again telling the press she doesn't know where she stands on that issue.

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