Former Arizona state senator and U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward is set to take over as head of the Arizona Republican Party following a stunning upset on Saturday.
Ward upset incumbent chairman Jonathan Lines in the race for state chair. Lines had been the establishment favorite to head the party. (RELATED: Republican Martha McSally Beats Ward, Arpaio For Flake’s Senate Seat In Arizona Primary)
“I am honored to be your next [Arizona Republican] chairwoman,” Ward tweeted. “As chair, I am committed to working with you all to unify our party & enter 2020 at full strength so we ensure a resounding victory for [President Donald Trump] & Arizona Republicans down ballot. Our state’s future is bright! #Win2020.”
I am honored to be your next @AZGOP chairwoman. As chair, I am committed to working with you all to unify our party & enter 2020 at full strength so we ensure a resounding victory for @realDonaldTrump & Arizona Republicans down ballot. Our state’s future is bright! #Win2020 pic.twitter.com/e1ooddWEMl
— Dr. Kelli Ward (@kelliwardaz) January 27, 2019
Ward served in the Arizona state Senate for nearly three years, before resigning to challenge Arizona Sen. John McCain for U.S. Senate in the 2016 Republican Party. The following year, she decided to run for Senate again against Jeff Flake before losing to Rep. Martha McSally in the 2018 Senate primary.
Ward came under fire for insensitive comments she made following McCain’s death and has a history of promoting conspiracy theories.
Ward’s election comes as the traditionally Republican state continues to turn purple. Arizona will likely be a crucial battleground state in the 2020 presidential race and will also feature one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country when appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally is expected to run to finish out McCain’s term.
McSally lost to now Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2018 in what was one of the tightest midterm races in the country.