Sen. Martha McSally's push to brand former Navy pilot and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly as a Manchurian candidate in the service of the same Chinese government that brought us COVID-19 (or the "Kung Flu" as her pal President Donald Trump likes to call it) isn't paying off yet, if the latest polls in Arizona's Senate race are to be believed.
Three recent polls show Kelly with anywhere from a 9-point to 15-point lead over McSally. Democratic pollster Civiqs, which polled 1,368 registered voters from June 13 to 15 showed Kelly leading McSally, 51 to 42 percent; a NYTimes/Siena College poll showed Kelly leading McSally, 47 to 38 percent; and a Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll that showed Kelly leading McSally by 15 points, 49 to 34 percent.
As with other polls, McSally is doing fine with most Republicans, but she's turning off enough of them that Kelly wins the support of 8 and 11 percent of GOP voters. But she's not getting the same kind of crossover; only between 3 to 4 percent of Democrats say they would vote for McSally. Kelly's lead among independents is 16 percent in the Civiqs poll and 17 percent in the NYT/Siena College poll.
It doesn't help that McSally seems completely tone deaf on the pandemic. Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Arizonans remain out of work as the outbreak spreads uncontrollably, she hasn't signaled support for extending the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits that came through the CARES Act—and has dismissed calls for additional aid to local governments as bailing out hotbeds of corruption such as Chicago. (And when word of that got out, her spokesperson explained that her remarks weren't intended to be made publicly, even though she said them during a Zoom town hall with Surprise Mayor Skip Rimsza.)
Instead, McSally last week pitched the TRIP Act, which offers Americans an all-expenses-paid vacation. McSally's bill would reimburse up to $4,000 in vacation expenses for anyone who travels more than 50 miles from home. (And if you're married, you get another $4,000 for the spouse and $500 per kid. Hey, Joe Citizen: Now that you've survived the pandemic, what are you going to do? I'm going to Disney World!)
Sure, we'd all like to turn in our receipts and let Uncle Sam treat us to a $9,000 vacay with the kids, but first you have to have the money to pay for it in the first place, which isn't the case for all those unemployed Arizonans who are wondering what happens when they're down to just $240 a week and the next month's rent is due.
McSally might as well have put the ball on the tee for Team Kelly.
"Arizona is facing thousands of new coronavirus cases every day, people are waiting 12 hours to get tested, and unless Congress takes action, critical relief for the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own will run out," Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters said. "Arizonans need a senator who will have their backs during this pandemic with a plan that helps people get the health care and testing they need, and make ends meet. Prioritizing taxpayer-funded vacations for wealthy Americans at this moment is irresponsible policy and desperate politics."
The pandemic is reminding voters of the issue that appears to be McSally's kryptonite: healthcare. As McSally herself told Sean Hannity during her 2018 campaign, she was "getting (her) ass kicked" for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act when she was in the House in 2017. (You may recall McSally urging her fellow Republicans to "get this fucking thing done" when they raced to vote for a 2017 hodge-podge repeal-and-replace health care bill in 2017 that had, at the time of their vote, an approval rating of 31 percent among the public.)
It was one of several votes McSally took to repeal the Affordable Care Act while in the House of Representatives. And while those failed efforts didn't strip protections from people with pre-existing conditions, the Trump Administration hasn't given up on the effort. Just last week, Justice Department lawyers filed a legal brief claiming that McSally and her GOP colleagues clearly voted to get rid of the entire Affordable Care Act when they voted to get rid of the individual mandate requiring U.S. citizens to buy health insurance or face a financial penalty as part of a deficit-expanding tax break that gave away most of its benefits to top earners in the country.
McSally has, in her typical way, dodged questions about whether she supports the Trump administration's lawsuit, saying it's none of her business since it's a legal fight.
But her record clearly shows she has been willing to roll people with pre-existing conditions under the bus when it's time to get the fucking thing done—which is why PolitiFact gave a false rating to her latest TV ad, in which she says she will "always protect people with pre-existing conditions—always."
PolitiFact notes that "nothing in her voting record, which tracks closely with the Republican repeal-and-replace philosophy, supports this claim. And she has continually declined opportunities to oppose a pending legal threat to the ACA, including its provisions related to preexisting conditions, by a group of GOP governors and supported by the Trump administration."
The fact checkers added that "the legislation her campaign cited to justify her stance falls short in terms of meaningfully protecting Americans with preexisting medical conditions. McSally has not in the past or present taken actions that back up her statement. We rate it False."