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AZ-Sen: Three leading Republicans are all drawing on their unique ties to Trump

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Arizona voters this year will elect a new senator to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. (Zerbor/Getty Images)

The three top Republicans seeking the 2018 GOP Senate nomination in Arizona are touting their ties to President Donald Trump as they seek to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, a staunchly anti-Trump Republican.

Flake, who was elected in 2012, announced in October that he would not seek re-election.

According to political analysts, the three leading GOP candidates are Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and former state Sen. Kelli Ward. Their likely Democratic opponent is Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

Martha McSally

McSally, 52, presents herself as an ally of President Trump and campaigns on her history as the first female combat fighter in the U.S. Air Force, where she served from 1988 to 2010.

"Like our president, I'm tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses. I'm a fighter pilot and I talk like one — that's why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done,” McSally said in an interview with The Hill. "Now, I am running for the Senate to fight the fights that must be won. On national security, economic security and border security."

McSally is generally viewed as more pro-establishment than Arpaio and Ward, who both have a following of more conservative Republicans but are also both far more controversial.

Joe Arpaio

Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, is known for his strict and controversial border-security policies and was given the nickname "America's toughest sheriff."

Some viewed him as an effective law enforcement official, others saw him as a human rights violator, Time magazine reported.

He also was a supporter of the belief that former President Barack Obama allegedly forged his birth certificate.

Arapio, 85, campaigned for Trump, who pardoned Arpaio following a conviction that was related to an ethnic-profiling case.

Kelli Ward

Ward, 49, ran an unsuccessful primary campaign in 2016 against Republican Sen. John McCain. She has worked on building her image among more conservative voters in Arizona and on overcoming criticism for hosting a town hall event on the "chemtrails" conspiracy theory.

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has supported Ward, and she has latched onto Trump’s "America First" agenda in her campaign. That angle could be more difficult now that Bannon and Trump are feuding.

A physician, Ward says on her website that she supports the Constitution, repealing Obamacare, growing the economy, and improving the Veterans Affairs program for veterans.

What are the key dates for this election?

The filing deadline for candidates is May 30. The Arizona primary election takes place Aug. 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.

A new survey from ABC15 in Phoenix and OH Predictive Insights found that Sinema tops McSally, Ward, and Arpaio in a general election matchup,

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