Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward has raised more than $525,000 so far in her bid to defeat Senator John McCain. Although celebrated as a respectable haul by her supporters, predictions should be tempered. Ward’s “haul” is in reality only approximately $320,000 cash on hand.
As a reminder, Ward is challenging an incumbent Senator who is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Ward’s campaign has $325,000 compared to McCain’s $4,500,000. It’s not apples to apples, more like apples to hand grenades. Plus, even if McCain is removed from the equation theoretically, Ward is struggling to match her Democratic opponent in a Republican dominated state. It is not a good sign.
The Arizona Republic notes that even national pundits are not impressed:
Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics who closely follows Senate races, suggested Ward’s haul was underwhelming.
“It’s OK, but generally you don’t beat an incumbent senator with fundraising like that,” he said. “You need a big a war chest, or a lot of indirect support, meaning Super PACs and independent expenditures.
McCain’s incumbency and money advantage is staggering. When competing against an incumbent, the ability to match fundraising is particularly important. In fact, the ability to spend comparable sums is almost essential. At this point, Ward’s financial gap is of Grand Canyon proportions. Ward cannot compete in terms of mail and television. Plus, a shoestring budget does not instill confidence in donors.
Due to the facts, it is not surprising that Tea Party groups have backed away from Kelli Ward as a challenger period.
While state Sen. Kelli Ward, a doctor who hails from a predominantly rural district in Lake Havasu City, is the most well-known Republican to enter the race, she has yet to earn the backing of some of the major conservative organizations able to offer significant financial support.
When asked if the Senate Conservatives Fund had a candidate in mind to replace McCain, a spokesperson said, “We are looking at this race as it develops, like we are with many other races.” A FreedomWorks spokesman said earlier this year the group would only back a “viable candidate.” And Club for Growth spokesman Doug Sachtleben hedged on July 20 when asked if the group would support Ward’s candidacy.
“The Club for Growth PAC’s many differences with Sen. McCain on taxes, regulations, and political speech are well known, but we are presently not involved in the Arizona senate race, and we have no intention of becoming involved unless and until there is a viable challenger who would represent a significant improvement on pro-growth issues,” he said in an email to Roll Call.
Ward’s numbers reveal that she is not a “viable candidate.” If she is to challenge McCain, she will need to significantly increase her fundraising pace. At this point, it is difficult to imagine that she will.