Former White House strategist Steve Bannon made an appearance on Tuesday at a fundraiser for U.S Senate candidate Kelli Ward. Talk-show host Laura Ingraham was the headliner for the event at the Scottsdale Hilton.
Ward is challenging Sen. Jeff Flake in the Republican Primary.
Bannon captured the crowd when he said that if given the choice “of being governed by the first hundred people that showed up tonight for this rally or the top hundred partners at Goldman Sachs, I would take the first hundred people here.”
A small statewide Arizona survey of 400 likely Arizona 2018 General Election voters shows Republican incumbent Senator Jeff Flake twelve points behind his primary Republican opponent Kelli Ward and eight points behind prospective Democratic opponent U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ-9).
In August, one of the largest Republican organizations in Arizona sent letters of censure to senators John McCain and Flake. The SaddleBrooke Republican Club (SBRC) acted on the unanimous vote of its membership to censure the most unpopular members of congress.
The big day for the Ward campaign was marred by two former Ward campaign staffers. Chief strategist Dustin Stockton, and press secretary Jennifer Lawrence, who recently left the Ward campaign, issued an apology for “helping legitimize” her candidacy.
“Dustin and I began helping Kelli when she ran against John McCain in 2016,” said Lawrence in a press release. “Over the years we advocated for her with grassroots groups, activists, and media from around the country. After running her campaign, we’ve realized that our successful efforts to legitimize her campaign was a mistake. We are sorry to the #MAGA activists and the people of Arizona because they deserve better candidates”
Ward launched her campaign against Senator Flake before the 2016 general election had concluded.
“We hadn’t anticipated taking over Kelli’s campaign when we visited Arizona around Easter,” Stockton said. “Her campaign was such a disaster that we saw an opportunity to prove how much we can help struggling campaigns and we did just that. Unfortunately, she showed that she isn’t up to the task of standing up to the pressure that causes so many candidates to betray voters when they get to Washington.”
According to one conservative website, it’s been rumored the Ward campaign failed to pay Lawrence, who has been characterized as a disgruntled employee.
Ward received early this year a $300,000 contribution from Robert Mercer, one of the President’s largest donors.