McSally announces bid for Arizona Senate seat

Arizona Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? McSally takes hard line on immigration in Arizona primary Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE (R) has officially announced her bid for Senate, a long-awaited announcement that caps a busy week in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally takes hard line on immigration in Arizona primary Flake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary MORE (R).

McSally is expected to formally announce her bid Friday morning in a tour across the state, but her campaign tipped its hand by releasing a video hours before.

The spot leans heavily on her experience as the first female combat fighter pilot and portrays her as an ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP lawmakers preparing to vote on bill allowing migrant children to be detained longer than 20 days: report Wasserman Schultz: Infants separated from their parents are in Florida immigrant shelters Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws MORE.

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Her blunt talk in the video shows a push to connect to Republicans across the spectrum, an important challenge for McSally considering she will be facing off in the GOP primary against two controversial candidates in former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelli Ward.

"Like our president, I'm tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses. I'm a fighter pilot and I talk like one — that's why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done," she says in the video.

"Now, I am running for the Senate to fight the fights that must be won. On national security, economic security and border security."

McSally is seen by many as the more establishment alternative to both Arpaio and Ward, who have built up a following among the more conservative segments of the GOP primary field.

Arpaio is a sheriff known for his hard-line and controversial border-security policies, as well as his ardent belief that former President Obama forged his birth certificate.

Ward unsuccessfully launched a primary campaign in 2016 against Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Trump mocks McCain at Nevada rally Don’t disrespect McCain by torpedoing his clean National Defense Authorization Act MORE (R) and had been working to fashion herself the choice for Arizona's more conservative voters in this election.

But McSally makes a clear attempt to appeal to the party's right flank in her video, immediately reminding voters about her successful challenge to military rules that mandated women wear an Islamic robe over their uniform while in some Muslim countries.

"I absolutely refused to bow down to Sharia law. After eight years of fighting, I won my battle for the religious freedom of American servicewomen," she said.

And she also tries to tie herself tight to Trump, including a picture of her with the president and video of the president calling her "tough" in her announcement.

All three candidates will likely try to leverage their ties to Trump to their benefit.

Arpaio served as a campaign surrogate for Trump, who pardoned Arpaio after a conviction related to a racial-profiling case.

Ward, who has been backed by former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, has framed her campaign as an extension of Trump's "America First" agenda, although that could be more difficult now that Trump is feuding with Bannon.

But while McSally is trying to align herself with the president now, she refused to endorse his presidential bid, ammunition that her opponents might use to launch their own attacks on the campaign trail.

The GOP primary winner will likely face off against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the front-runner in the Democratic primary.

Democrats have been emboldened by Flake's retirement to make a strong challenge for the seat and believe the state, which includes a significant portion of Hispanic voters that typically lean to the left, is one of the best offensive opportunities for the party facing a tough Senate map.