McSally has been trailing former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly fairly consistently over the past couple of months. The special election’s Real Clear Politics Average has her Democratic challenger up by 6 percentage points.
McSally’s campaign has been looking to shake up those numbers, and President Trump’s effort to push through a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election could serve as a critical boon.
McSally was among the first elected Republicans to support rushing through a new judge less than two months before the election, even though the GOP-led Senate refused to consider a nomination from former President Barack Obama nine months before the 2016 vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified his decision then by arguing that voters needed an opportunity to weigh in.
McSally reportedly sees this year’s power struggle as an opportunity since it gives threatened GOP members a chance to shift popular discussion away from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contentious televised hearings also are expected to give an energy boost to Republican voters.
While Democrats showered Kelly with donations following the president’s selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett last weekend, Republicans saw just a modest bump in donations. They may increase, however, as Barrett’s nomination comes to the political forefront.
Whether the nomination fight is enough to help McSally close the gap is unclear, but The Times noted that members of both parties interviewed after Ginsburg’s death said McSally stood to benefit more than Kelly.
If Kelly emerges victorious, he could be seated in time to vote on Barrett — lighting a fire under actors in both major parties since his inclusion would trim the GOP’s already narrow majority.
A Washington Post-ABC poll of likely voters in Arizona appeared to show a tightening race last week, with Kelly holding just a one-point lead. The poll was conducted just days before Cindy McCain, widow of popular former Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, endorsed 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and signed onto his transition advisory board.
Cindy McCain has previously told others she believes McSally did not do enough to defend her husband from attacks made by President Trump and refused to endorse her, telling reporters, “I have no interest in it.”
Other polling data shows that McSally is faring slightly worse among Arizona Republicans than the president.
A Barrett nomination could give McSally a bump with Republicans currently supporting Trump’s candidacy but not her own.
Now, the question for McSally remains whether she can snag suburban women and her party’s moderates in and around Maricopa, the state’s most heavily populated county, before time runs out.
McSally’s campaign hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment from Fox News.