Arizona’s Republican Party chairwoman is facing strong criticism for her choice of words that she sent out in a fundraising email on Friday morning.
Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party, used what many are decrying as ill-conceived wording regarding the 2020 U.S. Senate election within the Grand Canyon State.
Ward was seeking fundraising dollars in order to help the party’s efforts in opposing former astronaut and Democratic candidate Mark Kelly, who is running on a platform based on reforming federal gun laws.
“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote in the email, per reporting from the Washington Post.
Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was herself the victim of gun violence, nearly dying from a gunshot during a mass shooting event in 2011. She recovered from her injuries, but six other individuals perished in the shooting.
Arizona GOP Chairman Kelli Ward in fundraising email:
“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks."
Kelly's wife Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting.https://t.co/CksWdhkEvf
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) September 6, 2019
Ward’s words seemed inappropriate to many observers.
“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” Kelly’s spokesman, Jacob Peters, said in reaction to the fundraising email’s content.
Ward responded to media reports about her word choice in a tweet later on Friday.
“Utterly ridiculous! I don’t wish harm on Mr. Kelly,” Ward wrote in her tweet. “We disagree politically on the Constitution and the [Second Amendment], and I’m well aware of the harm his policies would cause should he ever be elected. Dishonest stories like this are dangerous and irresponsible!”
Mark Kelly is planning a run in 2020 for the state’s Senate seat, currently occupied by Republican Martha McSally.
McSally ran in 2018 against Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema, but lost narrowly to her. After former Sen. John McCain passed away from cancer while still in office, Jon Kyl was appointed to fill his seat, but retired himself in late 2018. Arizona Gov. Doug Doucey then appointed McSally to the position.
According to data compiled by Predictive Insights, the race between Kelly and McSally, should they both be their respective party’s nominees, looks like it will be a close one. In their August poll on the race, Kelly scored 46 percent support among Arizona residents, while McSally polled with 41 percent. Thirteen percent of residents didn’t have an opinion at that time.