Vulnerable GOP Sen. Martha McSally says she can't afford to fight Democrat Mark Kelly's attack ads

Kathryn Krawczyk

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is falling behind in campaign fundraising — not that she'll say it too loud.

McSally is currently facing a strong challenge from Mark Kelly, a Democrat, astronaut, and husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.). But if she were to counter Kelly's bid with a TV ad, "my campaign coffers would be empty," she told supporters at a closed-door meeting in December, the Arizona Mirror reports.

A recent TV ad from by a group called Advancing AZ attacked McSally for her vote in favor of a new Trump administration health care rule, saying the rule is at odds with her promise to preserve health care for people with pre-existing conditions. "Look, the attack ads are a lie," McSally said in December when asked about them at the conversation with Republican voters. But "we don't have the resources to fight," McSally continued. "If I went up on TV right now, my campaign coffers would be empty. If we're going to fight back with a TV ad, it's going to cost us millions of dollars."

Kelly has so far outraised McSally, so at the meeting, McSally said she wants "conservative outside groups" to pitch in and "start muddying up the landscape a little bit." "We can't talk to them. We can't invite them, but we pray for them every day," McSally said of the outside fundraisers.

McSally also narrowly lost Arizona's 2018 Senate race to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), but was appointed to the late Sen. John McCain's spot after former Sen. Jon Kyl (R) filled it for a few months.

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