Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a fundraising email Friday that the GOP would stop Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly “dead in his tracks.”
Ward’s choice wording stands out not only because Kelly is an ardent gun control advocate, but because he took up the cause after his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, survived an assassination attempt in which a gunman killed six people and left Giffords with traumatic brain injuries.
“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post. Bloomberg News first reported the email.
“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” said Jacob Peters, communications director for the Kelly campaign. “Mark Kelly is running for Senate to overcome this type of nasty divisiveness that does nothing for Arizonans.”
Kelly, a former astronaut, is running for the U.S. Senate on a gun control platform, looking to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in a state that Democrats hope they can pick up in 2020. Recent polling suggests McSally is trailing slightly in the race. McSally was beaten once by a Democrat in 2018 but was then appointed to another open Senate seat left by the late John McCain.
Ward, who is an ally of President Trump, is a twice-failed Senate candidate who lost Republican primary contests to McCain in 2016 and McSally in 2018.
Ward’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giffords was shot in the head during a constituent meet-and-greet in 2011. Two years later, the couple started Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee that advocates for stricter gun-control laws.
The Arizona GOP highlighted in the email an interview Kelly gave in 2015 where he said, “Where there are more guns, people are less safe.”
Echoing Trump’s Twitter style, the state party added in a post about Kelly: “He falls in line with the radical Left on gun control every single time. Sad!”