The U.S. Senate race in Arizona has captured the attention of political observers outside of the state. The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based political newspaper, noted in March that incumbent Sen. John McCain is facing the toughest re-election challenge of his career. He’s being opposed in the primary by Republican State Sen. Kelli Ward, who’s also an osteopathic physician in Lake Havasu City, and by Republican Alex Meluskey, a printing company owner in Scottsdale. Other Republican candidates include Clair Van Steenwyk, who is also running for Congressional District 8 but whose name will be taken off the ballot in one or the other of those races before Election Day, and write-in candidate Sean Webster.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, currently representing Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, is running in the Democratic primary for the

U.S. Senate and is challenged only by write-in candidate Axel Bello.

GOP candidates’ positions

McCain plans to focus on strengthening national defense to ensure that “Arizona, America and our allies are secure.” For the past eight years, he said in a statement to Jewish News, “the Obama Administration has turned a blind eye toward the threats facing our nation, allowing ISIL to metastasize throughout the Middle East and operate a base from which to conduct, direct or inspire attacks. This administration also oversaw signing the dangerous Iran nuclear deal, which has unshackled the theocratic regime’s pursuit of advanced military capabilities, including missiles that can target Israel, Europe, and someday the U.S. homeland. As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I have never been in a better position to help our military defeat our enemies and secure our nation.”

Ward’s top priority would be immigration and border security. “Not only does illegal immigration cost Arizona $2.6 billion a year for education, health care, and jails,” she said in a statement to Jewish News, “it also makes Arizona families increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Just last November, FBI officials briefed the Phoenix Police Department on increasing terror threats facing the region. Phoenix is a ‘hotbed’ of terrorist activity with very active communication and lots of chatter on the airwaves where ISIS is recruiting high school-age students.”

Meluskey’s top priorities include helping American veterans, tax reform to help business owners thrive and “again unleash the engine of American business” and “working to make America safe again,” he said in a statement to Jewish News. “Israel is our first line of defense against Islamic terrorists. My first overseas trip will be to Israel to work hand in hand with our one true ally in the region and ensure they remain the hope of the Jewish people across the world.”

Ron Ober, founder of Phoenix-based Policy Development Group, a government relations firm, doesn’t believe Meluskey has any chance of winning the Republican primary. Ober doesn’t think Ward presents much of a threat to McCain, either. She has a bit of an advantage, Ober said, over some of McCain’s past primary opponents, because of the “turbulent political times we’re in and because many people are considering voting for change.”

But Ober expects McCain to win the primary election handily. “Sen. McCain is very focused and will fight for what he believes in,” Ober said. “That’s what makes him effective. One of the reasons he wins his races so consistently is that he runs every time as if he’s in a tie with his opponents. He works harder than almost anyone I know and he doesn’t take anything for granted. I expect him to have a resounding victory on primary night.”

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