McSally raising cash with GOP candidate known for racism, misogyny

By: - May 4, 2020 4:23 pm

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally speaks at a rally for President Donald Trump in Mesa in October 2018. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally is part of a joint fundraising committee with a handful of other Republican senators and candidates, one of whom is a former conservative talk radio host with a long and well-documented history of racist and misogynistic comments.

The committee, named Senate Firewall Committee III, was formed on April 22 to benefit McSally and fellow Republican U.S. Senate incumbents Joni Ernst of Iowa, Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. The committee will also raise money for Legacy Political Fund, a political committee based in Virginia, and Republican Senate challengers in Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico.

Among those non-incumbent candidates is former Congressman Jason Lewis, who represented Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2017-19. Lewis is hoping to oust Democratic Sen. Tina Smith. He’s one of five Republicans seeking running in the Aug. 11 primary election and is widely viewed as the presumptive nominee.

Before he launched his congressional career, Lewis was a conservative radio host with his own nationally syndicated program, The Jason Lewis Show, and one-time substitute for Rush Limbaugh. He earned a reputation for inflammatory comments.

During his time as a radio host, Lewis questioned why it had become  inappropriate to refer to women as “sluts” and mocked women who said they felt traumatized by unwanted touching. He also alleged that Republicans have “dual loyalties” to the United States and Israel, called people who receive government assistance “parasites” and said African-Americans “substituted one plantation for another.” Lewis also said America’s white population was committing “cultural suicide” and “political suicide” through its low birth rates.

In a 2011 book, Lewis called for a constitutional amendment allowing states to “peaceably leave the union.” A later addition to the audio version of the book questioned the federal government’s role in legalizing same-sex marriage and outlawing slavery, saying the federal government should leave “social decisions” to “the collective wisdom of the states and the people. Because the courts are not smart enough to know what the answer is.”

A spokeswoman for McSally did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Mirror.

McSally had been part of a previous iteration of the Senate Firewall Committee, which didn’t include Lewis. Senate Firewall 2020, which formed in February 2019, raised money for Daines, Ernst, Gardner, McSally, Tillis and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. According to a campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission, McSally raised nearly $58,000 through that committee.

A second version of the committee, Senate Firewall 2020 II, which was formed in November, included Lewis but not McSally.

McSally has raised record amounts of money for her race, but still badly trails her likely Democratic opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly. In January, McSally pleaded for outside groups to begin airing television ads to boost her campaign.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”