Arizona Rep. Martha McSally proclaims she's operating for Senate

Martha Mc Sally, flanked by Senator John Cornyn and Senator Dick Durbin, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Was

Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington Thomson Reuters

America's first female fighter pilot Martha McSally had a theme for her official Senate announcement Friday morning. McSally, who has been perceived by those handicapping the race as the Republican establishment's top choice, appears instead to be catering to a more conservative primary electorate. Both candidates join former state Senator Kelli Ward, who has been in the race since October. "She opposed Donald Trump as a candidate and has undermined him as president, which is why leading conservatives are rejecting McSally and are lining up behind a true reformer in Dr. Kelli Ward".

There's a similar twist the ad applies to McSally's status as the first woman to fly Air Force combat missions. "I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done", McSally said in the video.

"I absolutely refuse to bow down to Sharia law", McSally says, after a narrator discusses her successful fight against a US military policy that required women to wear head-to-toe garb in Saudi Arabia.

McSally also compared her own political style to the president, saying in her announcement video, "Like our president, I'm exhausted of PC politicians and their BS excuses".

Later, she refused to condemn Trump's closed-door description of African countries as "shitholes".

In a private hanger at the Tucson International Airport, McSally briefly highlighted her accomplishments during her 26 years of military service and her three years in Congress before revealing her campaign strategy to a mostly friendly crowd of more than 100 and about two-dozen journalists.

Talking to reporters after the Tucson event, McSally touted her voting record as one of the most reliable in Arizona for Trump.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have tipped its hand Friday on which candidate it favors, name-dropping Kirkpatrick in a tweet reacting to McSally's announcement.

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On Twitter on Friday, McSally thanked Trump for attacking Democrats who are contemplating a government shutdown to protect young immigrants known as "Dreamers".

"I absolutely refused to bow down to Sharia law", she said. "That's just not how leaders carry themselves", she said at the time.

McSally is widely seen as the national party's preferred nominee, much as incumbent Senator Luther Strange was backed by the party's establishment wing in the battle for the Republican nomination in a Senate special election in Alabama against hard-line evangelical Christian conservative Roy Moore.

Arizona's other senator, John McCain, said he had hoped Flake was not actually going to throw in the towel.

Democrats in the Senate primary include Deedra Abboud, Bob Bishop, Cheryl Fowler, Chris Russell and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who is considered the front-runner.

Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she wants a loyal foot soldier to replace McSally.

"Whoever escapes the primary in August, they will be held accountable for touting their radical stripes at every opportunity and willingness to take stances on issues that are simply out of touch with Arizonan voters", state Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said.

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