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McSally campaign to suspend TV ads, canvassing amid pandemic

McSally campaign to suspend TV ads, canvassing amid pandemic
© Greg Nash

Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Ariz.) is directing her campaign to halt television advertising and canvassing activities during the coronavirus outbreak. 

McSally’s campaign said in a statement that it is “not the time for politics” and will instead be encouraging staffers to help those in their communities who are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus. 

“This is not a time for politics; it is a time for us to remember that we are in this together as Americans, regardless of party or ideology,” said McSally. “As such, I’ve directed my campaign to cease all television political adverting for at least the next 30 days. I have also suspended all door to door canvassing and have instead encouraged those staffers to help the elderly and vulnerable in their communities.” 

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McSally added that she will dedicate “100%” of her time to legislating in an effort to curb the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. She urged her fellow lawmakers to join her in pausing their campaign efforts. 

“Members of Congress and candidates around the country should join me in this call for a national moratorium on ‘us vs. them.’ We need social distancing from our usual corners, and we need to look at each other as fellow Americans and with a servant’s heart, not with a politically jaundiced eye,” she said.

The announcement comes as federal officials advise against gatherings of more than 10 people, among other measures, to slow the spread of the virus. Twenty-one people have been infected in Arizona, and more than 100 people have already died across the U.S. from the illness. 

However, McSally will still have air cover during her advertising hiatus. One Nation, an outside group affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell vents over 'fake news' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Tensions rise as U.S. waits for Derek Chauvin verdict Trump looking 'beyond seriously' at 2024 run MORE (R-Ky.) is dropping $700,000 in the next two weeks on her behalf, according to Federal Communications Commission files.

McSally, who was appointed to her seat in 2019 and is running to complete the remainder of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBush says he doesn't criticize other presidents to avoid risking friendship with Michelle Obama 'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party George W. Bush: 'It's a problem that Americans are so polarized' they can't imagine him being friends with Michelle Obama MORE’s (R) term, is facing a stiff challenge from former astronaut and gun control activist Mark Kelly. Kelly has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut, consistently hauling in millions of dollars each quarter, and has not trailed in a poll since May. 

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For its part, the Kelly campaign suspended door-to-door canvassing and large in-person events last Thursday and began mandatory telework on Monday.

“Last week, our campaign took steps following guidance from the CDC and Arizona public health officials to keep Arizonans and our staff healthy and safe," said Kelly campaign spokesperson Jacob Peters. "Mark remains focused on ensuring workers, health care professionals, and business owners have the support they need to get through this.”

The 2020 race is McSally’s second Senate campaign in two years — she lost a bid against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema last year to replace retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (R) before she was appointed to her current seat.

Unseating McSally, viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans, would significantly ease Democrats’ path to winning the Senate majority. The party has needs a net gain of three seats if it also takes the White House and four if it does not.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as a “toss-up.”