On this page, a few weeks before he announced it, we endorsed the idea of Gov. Ducey appointing Martha McSally to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of John McCain.
McSally, we argued, seemed to be a politician that focused on common-sense solutions during her time in the U.S. House. Plus, even though she lost the race for Arizona’s other Senate seat to Kyrsten Sinema, it was a close enough race that her appointment would be palatable to the overwhelming majority of Arizonans, regardless of political affiliation.
Since her appointment, McSally has impressed us by visiting Graham and Greenlee multiple times — something Sinema has not done once, not even during the campaign — and by listening to locals about the issues we face here in Southeastern Arizona.
Her voting record hasn’t exactly mirrored her rhetoric when she’s here, however, such as voting with the White House to move funding from military bases, such as Fort Huachuca, in favor of building a border wall. She’s also voted in favor of cutting medical coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
Those are policy issues with which we disagree, but disagreeing over policy is how our government should operate. We can respect someone who stays true to his or her principles, even when we disagree over policy.
And then there was last Thursday.
While walking to a conference room, McSally was asked a question by CNN reporter Manu Raju.
“Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?”
McSally’s reponse was, to say the least, surprising.
“Manu, you’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.”
Raju’s question was fair, given the Democrats’ push for evidence and witnesses at the impeachment trial of President Trump. Other Republican senators had and continue to respond to the question, virtually all in opposition to new evidence and witnesses, explaining why he or she holds that view.
Again, it’s reasonable to disagree with policy.
What is not reasonable is name-calling like a third-grader on the playground.
McSally herself released a video one of her staffers recorded of the exchange — a recording that started well before Raju asked his question, which makes us think that McSally’s response was preplanned, no matter what Raju was going to ask.
And given that the McSally video was immediately used for fund-raising and to solicit support from the president — it did — we tend to think that was all a campaign ploy. After all, McSally is behind Democrat Mark Kelly in the polls and is lagging behind him in fund-raising, so she needs to do something.
And her fallback position of being a veteran is lost against Kelly, who is also a veteran who has also flown combat missions and, unlike McSally, been an astronaut.
Appealing to the hardcore 30 percent that supports Trump no matter what evidence turns up, or what even he himself says, may be her only chance for a hail-Mary win over Kelly.
McSally finds herself in a no-win situation. If she endorses witnesses and new evidence, she loses the Trump base. If she rejects the mountain of new evidence coming out almost hourly about Trump’s alleged shake-down of Ukrainian officials for Trump’s own political gain, she loses moderates and independents.
We thought she was a principled person who would take a position one way or the other and stand up for what she believes is right. Not everyone would agree with whichever side she fell on, but we would respect her holding to her beliefs.
We didn’t expect her to be revealed as a political opportunist, willing to debase herself and dismiss her constituency in the dying hopes of holding on to a seat she couldn’t win on her own.