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I want you to win this November, just as I wanted you to win in 2018. Sadly, tragically for our nation, it appears you are on track to be a two-time state-wide loser. That will be the end of your prospects for any position of influence going forward. It may also be the end of our republic. Please help us help you by being your best legislator and candidate. Act on the sustained real courage of Major McSally, flashes of which you have shown in the United States Senate. That way lies victory, if you tell your story true and get your story out by casting aside the counsel of caution, seizing every opportunity in every forum to engage with Arizonans.
You have a great personal story to tell, but the small piece of it that you were advised to hammer on, female A-10 pilot flying in combat, was not enough last time and is obviously not enough against an astronaut. The basic problem is linking this narrative to what you will do in the Senate and why people who are not entirely committed to voting their party line should think and feel favorably about you. You have a much more relevant and relatable story in your long fight for the Constitution and for basic human decency by the Pentagon leadership towards servicewomen.
Your administrative and then court battle to make the Pentagon do the right thing was fought from the middle ranks, where you could easily have seen your career terminated by non-selection for the next rank and competitive assignments. You did the right thing, especially on behalf of enlisted women, when you pushed back against the outrageous policy of knuckling under to our good friends, the Saudis, requiring American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, to wear abayas off base. It is no credit to the senior leaders of the day that they did not positively respond to your request in the chain of command. It is of great credit to you that you exhausted your remedies in the chain of command, giving them every chance to do the right thing, before hauling them into federal court. That sustained quest for all-American justice finally pushed Congress into doing the right thing, dictating through legislation what decency should have directed the Department of Defense to do.
You showed that same moral clarity and courage more recently in a little-noticed confirmation fight. Air Force General John E. Hyten is a very important voice at this moment in history. He has been sounding the alarm about the great risk to our national security from risk-averse procurement systems. He has pointed out the massive cost in dollars and in lost competitive edge, as our enemies are developing technology much faster now.* He was on his way to confirmation last year as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when a female Army colonel falsely accused him of sexual assault. Your voice was critical to stopping this injustice and seeing a visionary officer promoted.
Your quiet courage was important, both to our national defense future and also to real justice for all. Sexual harassment and sexual assault claims have been improperly weaponized in recent times by a small number of military members with bad motives. As I was retiring in 2016, I saw two good senior officers, one male, and one female, have their careers dead-ended by false claims by sub-standard performers seeking to get the heat off their own careers. You took a clear stand for equal justice, for real victims and for those falsely accused.
In order to translate your admirable record and its meaning in today’s Senate and in Arizona, you must be seen and heard in Arizona. Ignore the Kelli Ward led Arizona GOP’s desire to avoid controversy. You actually have a primary challenger, Daniel McCarthy. Embrace the opportunity to get in front of Arizona voters, especially those who are new or skeptical about the two major parties. If he is a weak candidate, having two or three debates is a chance to show you are not a creature of the dysfunctional state party establishment while getting your points across. Feedback from the public commenting on primary debates will give you more information to help you properly adjust your communications and campaigning.
Go with your best nature, go with the courage of Major Martha McSally, and Arizona will elect you to the U.S. Senate this November.
* See, for instance, General Hyten’s remarks on 21st Century deterrence at the Hudson Institute: “Our adversaries are going really fast, and we are not, and we have to change that.”Published in