The state legislator challenging Arizona Sen. Republican John McCain in the 2016 Republican primary is trying to gather support from conservative activists on Capitol Hill this week.
Arizona Republican state Sen. Kelli Ward spoke to weekly conservative gatherings on Wednesday and hosted a meet-and-greet breakfast fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club.
Ward, a medical doctor by trade, works in private practice in emergency departments while serving as a state lawmaker.
Ward has some big-time help from the consultant firm Axiom Strategies, which is owned by Ted Cruz campaign manager Jeff Rowe. (Cruz officials told CNN that the Texas senator does not involve himself in the firm’s other campaigns.)
Ward insists that McCain is too similar Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who he beat by 13 points in 2010.
“Mainly they are like two peas in a pod,” Ward told The Daily Caller. “People are looking for a Republican senator who represents their values, and we are not getting that right now from John McCain and we definitely wouldn’t get it from a Democrat.”
McCain defeated his last primary opponent, former Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth, 56 to 32 percent in 2010.
“The last time he ran in the primary he said, ‘Build the dang fence,’ and as soon as he was elected he headed up the ‘Gang of Eight’ and the efforts for amnesty. So that’s number one,” Ward told The Daily Caller.
“Number two, economic issues — he’s voted for tax hikes. He’s voted for bailouts. He voted for the biggest tax increase in our history with the fiscal cliff deal. It goes on and on. Just last week he voted for a horrible budget deal that has over 144 pages and $500 million of new spending on every page. People are tired of it,” she said.
Ward reported raising $525,000 through Sept. 30. Her campaign still had $320,000 cash on hand at the end of September. The Ward campaign told the Arizona Republic the money was raised from 2,100 individuals, none of whom were “lobbyists or D.C. interests.”
McCain’s campaign reported raising at least $1 million in July, August and September. The Republic noted it was his third straight quarter in which he raised at least seven figures. He had $4.9 million on hand as of Sept. 30.
“He’s got a lot of money,” Ward acknowledged. “The last time he had a formidable challenge in J.D. Hayworth. However, he had $19 million left over from his presidential run, which makes me wonder why didn’t he spend that $19 million and maybe even more against Barack Obama.”
“But he hoarded that money and instead used it against a conservative. He’s got about $1 million of that left at this point to be able to use against me, but his money isn’t going to be nearly what it was before. He has been able to use those connections and money to maintain his power and position, but people now are more informed and they are ready for change,” she added.
The Arizona Republican primary is scheduled for Aug. 30, 2016. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2016.