Rep. Martha McSally, left, works with Michelle Peltier, right, and Lou Colecchia to organize personal-hygiene supplies while setting up for the Veteran Resource Fair hosted by the Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans at the Grand Luxe Hotel, 1365 W. Grant Road.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally wasn’t wearing her usual attire when she made a campaign stop in Tucson on Tuesday.

The two-term Republican congresswoman and retired Air Force colonel wore jeans and a blue T-shirt emblazoned with an A-10 “Warthog” — the type of plane she flew while in the military.

And this was also a different type of event from a traditional campaign event — McSally spent roughly an hour unloading trucks and unpacking boxes as she helped 30 volunteers prepare for the annual Veteran Resources Fair organized by the Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans group.

McSally, who represents Southern Arizona’s Congressional District 2, worked shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow veterans and didn’t spend much time actually campaigning — her remarks before lunch lasted less than 10 minutes.

She thanked the assembled group for volunteering their time. “You are going to provide support for these heroes,” McSally said. “They went out and fought for us.”

In her remarks, McSally highlighted the National Defense Authorization Act signing ceremony that was held the day before at Fort Drum, New York, where President Trump singled her out from among a small congressional delegation that was on hand.

“I’ve gotten to know her very well, and she is terrific,” Trump said.

While some saw this as an endorsement of McSally ahead of the Aug. 28 Republican primary, McSally said Tuesday it wasn’t up to her whether it was an official endorsement.

“We will leave those specific words up to the White House,” McSally said. “I would just ask people to listen to the clip — we were there in our official capacity, and as I’ve said, we’ve been working with President Trump, and I’ve got a good relationship with President Trump.”

She said the defense bill is good news from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, as it will pay for upgrades for A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and EC-130Hs electronic-warfare planes, both crucial missions for the local base.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

“We fought long and hard for a lot of missions at D-M,” McSally said.

McSally said she was disappointed in the media coverage of the event. Specifically, with news outlets that pointed out that Trump never mentioned Arizona’s ailing senior senator, even though Congress renamed the bill in honor of John McCain.

“I just couldn’t believe it that the only story, in some cases, was who was talked about and who wasn’t talked about,” she said. “You see this amazing, positive story and somehow the media turns it into a controversy.”

She said it was up to McCain and Trump to work out their differences.

McSally faces former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Republican Senate primary. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake decided not to run for re-election. The winner faces the Democratic primary victor in November.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197.


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.