Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyKelly raises million in third quarter Ruben Gallego is left's favorite to take on Sinema Texas not hiring private contractor for election audit MORE (R-Ariz.) is tying her Democratic challenger Mark KellyMark KellyDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races Warnock raises .5 million in third quarter Anti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover MORE to progressive presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin meets with Sanders, Jayapal amid spending stalemate America can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (I-Vt.) in a new ad released Tuesday.
“Kelly and Sanders, too liberal for Arizona,” the narrator says in the 30-second ad titled “Bernie Bro.”
“Kelly is quickly making the choice in this election very clear – a vote for Kelly is a vote for the Bernie Sanders socialist policies of government takeover of healthcare, open borders, and massive tax hikes on the middle class,” McSally campaign manager Dylan Lefler said in a statement announcing the ad. “Mark Kelly will be Sanders 51st vote in the Senate."
The ad claims Kelly said he would support Sanders, though Kelly has given more measured responses when pressed by local news outlets about his support for the Democratic primary’s front-runner.
"Another week and more of the same negative and false attack ads that Arizonans are tired of and rejected in 2018," Kelly spokesman Jacob Peters said in a statement. "Mark is an engineer, combat pilot, and astronaut running to be an independent voice in the Senate, and he will stand up to anyone in either party when it’s right for Arizona.”
Asked last week if he would support Sanders if the Vermont senator became the nominee, Kelly told The Arizona Republic, “I will ultimately support who the nominee is of the Democratic Party, that’s clear.”
“There’s 900 delegates that one person is going to need to receive to be the nominee, we’re really at a small number right now,” he added.
A local CBS affiliate reported that Kelly said “we’ll have to see who the nominee is,” when asked if he’ll support the candidate no matter who it is.
Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), has been outraising McSally in the Senate race.
McSally launched her campaign earlier this month. She lost her 2018 Senate race against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), who flipped the seat held by retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE.
McSally was later appointed to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ariz.).
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the 2020 Senate race in Arizona a “toss-up.”
--This report was updated on Feb. 19 at 12:17 p.m.