Ward: Flake’s resigning because I challenged him

More from this show

Joe Arpaio and Rep. Martha McSally formally announced their plans to run for Sen. Jeff Flake’s Senate seat last week, joining Dr. Kelli Ward, who announced she would be challenging Flake in October 2016.

Ward, a former State Senator, announced her plans to run against Flake two months after her failed attempt to unseat Sen. John McCain in the 2016 elections. Ward received 39 percent of the vote in 2016. One year after her announcement, Flake declared he would not seek reelection.

Ward says that while Flake publicly says his resignation is a result of his ongoing feud with President Trump, she believes that he was intimidated by her challenge. “The 30 points that I was up on Senator Flake helped him to make that decision,” said Ward.

Ted Simons: Former state lawmaker Doctor Kelli Ward is running for the U.S. senate in a bid to replace Senator Jeff Flake who is not running for reelection and it became significantly more crowded with the candidacies of former Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio and congresswoman McSally and here to talk about her campaign is Kelli Ward and you ran in 2016 and you are running again, why?

Kelli Ward: I never thought I would run for office at all let alone for the United States Senate but people are upset with what is happening in Washington, they are frustrated with the gridlock, they are disappointed, they are angry and they are looking for someone that is competent, qualified, capable, that they can send to Washington to do the job they expect to be done. And so I'm running because I've given that hope to people not just in the Republican Party but Independents and many of the conservative Democrats that are here in Arizona, they want that kind of energy, that kind of passion and that kind of policy in Washington.

Ted Simons: Let's start with Republicans and those who will be voting in the Republican primary, why you and not Congresswoman McSally and not former Sheriff Arpaio?

Kelli Ward: I think that we have a good field obviously the republicans have a deep bench. Sheriff Arpaio has been an folk hero about immigration, Congresswoman McSally has been you know a strong advocate of our military but I think that people are looking for someone with a wide array of issues and grasp on the issues and that is what I offer them not only immigration and the military but everything in between healthcare, tax policy, water policy, energy policy, foreign policy, domestic relations, all of those things are things that I did in the State Senate, was very, very successful and people want me to take it to Washington D.C. and put it into action.

Ted Simons: Does it concern you when you were running just against Jeff Flake challenging him and the minute he drops outs of the race all of a sudden here comes a couple more candidates thinking they are better qualified and a chance to win is that a concern?

Kelli Ward: It's been months and he dropped out on October 24th of 2017 and Martha decided to become conservative and be more Trump-like and very unlike herself and the way that she served up until now on October 25th and then both of them jumped into the race last week. No, I'm not concerned. I took on Senator John McCain for goodness sake, he is a D.C. dragon with more money and power and connections than anyone in the Republican Party and maybe in the United States and I did very well against him. Getting 40% of the vote in a four way race actually defeating Senator McCain by a hundred thousand votes on Election Day. Early voting was a challenge for me because I didn't have the money or the man power that he had. And then I was able to get a sitting senator to say I’m not going to seek reelection and you know while he likes to say it's because he doesn't like Trump's attitude and he doesn't like his demeanor and doesn't like his dequorum the 30 points up on Senator Flake helped him make the decision.

Ted Simons: Tell me your thoughts regarding President Trump his attitude his dequorum and how he conducts himself. You are a big supporter of his but do you understand why so many people have a problem with how he conducts himself?

Kelli Ward: Well, you know, I am a fan of President Trump. I've been a supporter of his for a very long time as well as the America First agenda that he ran on which is immigration, getting rid of Obamacare, tax reform, strengthening the military to just name a few of the things that are part of the agenda. I have to say I didn't elect Donald Trump to be my pastor, I elected him to be a person who was a positive disrupter to go into a system in Washington D.C. that was completely broken by people who have been there for way too long, decade after decade after decade and to put his thoughts into action and he has. Look at our economy, the DOW over 26,000 now more money in people's pockets, the economy is thriving, regulations are down. Those things are the actions that speak louder than the words of one man who happens to be a messenger for this agenda at this point.

Ted Simons: So as long as the message is okay the messenger can kind of behave as he so chooses?

Kelli Ward: Well I don't see him doing anything that is athwart or unacceptable, I think some people don't like it, it's not seen in Washington D.C., the pc police have been on patrol in Washington for quite some time and Donald Trump has broken that mold and I think that's why so many of the so called deplorables are so attached to Donald Trump and to the agenda that he has put forward.

Ted Simons: Why hasn't Donald Trump attached himself to you?

Kelli Ward: It's early. Number one. You know, I certainly hope to have the support of the President and of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents across the board because I think that what I'm offering with my common sense policy is going to be successful. That's what I did in the Senate, that is the way I got 19 bills signed into law it wasn't being extreme or fringe or hyper partisan it was putting forth good policy ideas getting buy in from the left and the right, navigating the murky process of making law, getting it to the executive's desk and then getting those good policies signed into law and put into action in Arizona.

Ted Simons: And yet you mentioned wasn't be being a fringe candidate or out in right or left field or whatever. But you know that people think of you as a fringe candidate, that’s part of this whole chem trail Kelli business. This follows you around.

Kelli Ward: It does.

Ted Simons: Why?

Kelli Ward: Because John McCain spend tens of millions of dollars creating a caricature of me that doesn't exist and the media and the left tried to do that with Donald Trump as well they created a caricature that creates angst and fear and hatred in his case and maybe there is some hatred for me I don't know and that has to stop and people have to look at the truth. Heck "The Washington Post" not known for being a conservative bastion has given the story three Pinocchios and they know it's false and the left knows it's false and establishment and GOP knows it's false and want to prey on people's fear and misunderstanding to achieve the agenda which is to elect someone more in the mold of Jeff Flake and John McCain voters don't want it.

Ted Simons: How do you prove to republicans and primary voters it is false, recent polls of likely republican voters have you third behind Martha McSally and behind Joe Arpaio. 31 for McSally, 22 for Arpaio and 19 for you what do you make of that?

Kelli Ward: Well I have not seen the legs of the poll but I would say that anybody who just jumps in is going to get a bump, I think that what these polls, poll after poll after of has shown is about 60% of the Republican Electorate is fed up with Washington D.C. and insider and do not want Flake 2.0 which is why Martha McSally will have a hard time getting over her ceiling. So I think that conservative voters, Republican and Democrat voters and Independent will come against my approach and track record and my professional team and grass roots organization and ultimately I'll be not only the nominee but the next Senator from the State of Arizona.

Ted Simons: When you were supported positions that President Trump has talked about and said that maybe his manner isn't the way some people like it but the message is there, what he says the press is the enemy of the people, Jeff Flake, Senator Flake had a whole big speech on that a couple weeks ago.

Kelli Ward: It was appalling.

Ted Simons: I was curious since I'm a part of the press and I do not consider myself an enemy of the people whether it's in general and do you think the press is enemy of the people and should you be saying something like that?

Kelli Ward: The press has proven they report 90% negatively on Donald Trump so I can understand why he calls them out and people are happy they are being called out, not everyone across the board, there are many good people but there are also people who create an agenda, have an agenda and then utilize certain words, certain terminology, certain ways of approaching a subject in order to influence the way people think about it. I would really like the news, not the opinion pieces obviously opinion journalists are opinion journalists but the news to be reported in a factual objective manner and allow us as the people to be able to interpret it and decide what we think about it rather than telling us what to think.

Ted Simons: Should the media not be reporting that a special counsel has been set up to investigate the president and his campaigns possible connections to Russians regarding the elections, regarding money laundering, the whole nine yards, it sounds negative because it is negative.

Kelli Ward: I think there is a wide range of things that need to be investigated. You know if you look at fusion GPS and you know that started with Hillary Clinton and her campaign and the Democrat Party. So there is a lot of other -- there are a lot of other things that are in the mix and they want to focus on something that doesn't exist that hasn't been able to be proven month after month after month over a year into this presidency.

Ted Simons: Doctor.

Kelli Ward: And collusion between Donald Trump and campaign and it has not been proven.

Ted Simons: I hear what you are saying but there are no counsels for Fusion GPS yet and that is true and that is the point there is something on this, does it not concern you at all that there might be a connection there?

Kelli Ward: Well of course we should find out if there are any connections anywhere. You know I want to root out corruption in our government left and right. I think it exists on both sides of the aisle and I think it's something we should be looking Into but I don't think that we should appoint special counsels to investigate and try to find a crime to fit whatever they find and that's how it appears at this point. This has been dragging on and on and on. Now we've got you know missing text messages for five months, the very five months that we need to find out about. There is a lot out there that needs to be discovered so that people start to have faith again in their government and the people who represent them.

Ted Simons: Last question we have about 30 seconds left here.

Kelli Ward: Sure.

Ted Simons: When people say “make America great again,” what does that mean to you? Does it mean America at one time was not great?

Kelli Ward: Well I mean the last eight years under Barack Obama really put America at a disadvantage. Our military was weaker, our economy didn't grow, more people were on food stamps and needed welfare, all of those things didn’t make for a great America for many, many of our citizens across the board and regardless of socio economic status so Donald Trump has America first policy that will make America great again and make Americans prosperous.

Ted Simons: Stop you there and thank you for joining us we appreciate it. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons thank you for joining us, you have a great evening.

U.S Senate Candidate Dr. Kelli Ward

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 13

This week on Horizonte!

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
aired April 4

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: