Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward is expected to announce her primary challenge against Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday. But on Monday, her campaign sort of let the cat out of the bag.
The main page of Ward's campaign website on Monday showed a fundraising appeal. But earlier in the day, if a visitor typed in "KelliWard.com/about," they would see a 404 error page, which linked to a series of posts on the “campaign news ” section declaring Ward's intentions. The posts were taken down from the section later Monday.
“Arizona Republicans deserve a conservative choice. For too long, John McCain has worked with the radical left to grow government and attack our values. I’m here to tell you that you can put a stop to it,” she says on the website . “You can elect someone who will stand with you — for secure borders, balanced budgets, and respect for the Constitution.”
The website — accessed a day before what she has described as a “major event ” announcing her future plans — still has some blanks to be filled in. On the same news page where she announces her plans, a viewer is guided to see, “Kelli’s Interview with XXXXX,” where they hear about how Ward, “just announced my campaign on Tuesday, and ZXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX my interview on XXX News.”
The Ward campaign's technology hiccup came just days after a tweet was accidentally sent out from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's account declaring his presidential candidacy three days before he planned to announce (the Walker campaign has said it did not send the tweet, which was confirmed by Twitter ).
McCain is a top target of national conservative groups who have long thought that the former Republican presidential nominee isn't ideologically pure enough. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, shows voters might agree, depending on who carries the conservative banner against him.
PPP’s numbers , based on an early May survey of 600 Arizona voters, show McCain nearly tied with Rep. David Schweikert, who has indicated his opposition to running, and Rep. Matt Salmon, who has not said what he plans to do but is being pushed by tea party groups to enter the race. The same poll showed McCain with a 12-point advantage over Ward, an emergency physician in Lake Havasu City and Kingman, Ariz., who represents only a fraction of the population that elected the two members of Congress who were in the same poll.
For her part, Ward’s campaign website takes early swipes at McCain’s support for a trade package backed by many Republicans and the Obama administration, but opposed by both liberal Democrats and conservatives in the Republican Party.
Emails to Ward and her campaign were not returned on Monday.
McCain, like other Republican incumbents, will have the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an independent expenditure group, Arizona Grassroots Action, which was formed to support his candidacy.
What is not clear is what the national conservative groups, like the Senate Conservatives Fund or the Club for Growth, plan to do. Doug Sachtleben, a spokesman for the Club for Growth, said only on Monday, “We continue to watch the race.”