For some time, I’ve suspected that Rep. Martha McSally is angling for an endorsement from President Trump as she considers jumping into the U.S. Senate race — maybe even as a condition for running.

That would give her a big advantage over the top GOP candidate in the race now, Kelli Ward, who is a devoted fan of the president and was endorsed by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

I can’t say I’ve confirmed this is what McSally is doing, but on Thursday, she offered one more piece of evidence for the theory. McSally’s Twitter account put out a picture of her with Trump, each with an arm around the other, each giving a thumbs up.

McSally’s text said: “Great meeting with President @realDonaldTrump this a.m. to discuss our tax cuts that will bring relief to hard-working American families!”

This was the fourth tweet naming the president that McSally has posted since Nov. 8; her entire Twitter history shows only one Tweet naming Trump before that.

On Nov. 8, a day I think we may look back on as the day McSally actually began running for Senate, she posted a picture of herself with the president’s older daughter. The text of the tweet said, “Discussing our plan to cut taxes, create jobs & deliver relief to American families w/@IvankaTrump. Let’s get it to @realDonaldTrump’s desk.”

It may seem counterintuitive that McSally, who never endorsed Trump or even said she voted for him, might have a hope for his endorsement. But you should consider his affinity for military officers — think of all the generals he has appointed — and the stories she’s told of impressing Trump with her experience as a fighter pilot.

Also, consider recent history in another contested GOP primary race. In Alabama, Trump endorsed the establishment-allied incumbent Republican, Luther Strange, while Bannon endorsed challenger Roy Moore.

Moore, of course, won the primary, and Trump quickly expressed a sort of regret for endorsing Strange. But look what’s happened to Moore since the Washington Post published allegations of sexual misconduct by him with a 14-year-old girl. Moore has gone from a favorite to someone who may actually hand an Alabama U.S. Senate seat to a Democrat.

The lesson for Trump: Bannon may be wrong sometimes, and the establishment may be right. That’s especially the case when the establishment candidate is a retired military officer.

Let’s put it this way: If McSally is not running for Senate, these tweets and this sudden turn toward embracing Trump will likely foreclose a re-election victory in Congressional District 2. In 2016, that district, which includes much of Tucson and Southeastern Arizona, voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president by about 5 percent while also re-electing the Republican McSally handily.

Whether she wins Trump’s endorsement or not, McSally probably can’t turn back now.

O’Halleran office oops

If you were to throw a dart at a map of Arizona, there’s about a 50 percent chance it would land in Congressional District 1. It’s that big, stretching from Sedona across Northern Arizona, down Eastern Arizona and ending on the northwest side of the Tucson metro area.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran represents that district, but his dart hit just outside its boundaries.

The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that O’Halleran’s Tucson-area office, at 3037 W. Ina Road, is outside his district by about a half a mile.

Believe it or not, having an office in another district violates the rules of the House of Representatives, but McSally, in whose district O’Halleran’s office sits, sent a letter saying the location is OK with her.

O’Halleran, a Democrat, told the Republic he had looked for office space in Oro Valley, but it was too expensive, so he settled on the Ina Road location, not realizing it is outside his district boundaries.

Bannon protesters implored not to disrupt banquet

Online posts prompted the organizers of Saturday night’s Brian Terry Foundation banquet to ask protesters not to disrupt the event.

The foundation has a banquet every year to raise money to support the families of wounded and deceased Border Patrol agents.

This year, as I discussed in Wednesday’s column, the featured speaker is Steve Bannon, the Breitbart executive and former strategist for Trump.

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While it’s not surprising demonstrators want to show their displeasure at Bannon’s presence, enough people have talked online about buying tickets and disrupting the event to worry the foundation.

Terry, a Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent, was killed on duty in 2010.

His sister, Kelly Terry-Willis, said in a press release:

“While I respect someone’s right to demonstrate, I am pleading with potential protesters. Don’t dishonor my brother’s memory. No matter what your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that when people from both sides of the political aisle come together to support fallen Border Patrol agents, that’s something worthy of praise, not protest.”

In truth, it would also be counterproductive for the demonstrators. Most of the country will see them as intolerant jerks if they disrupt the event, rather than protesting outside.

Add 2 more Republicans
to possible CD2 field

If Martha McSally chooses not to run for re-election, at least two additional Republicans, beyond the handful I’ve mentioned previously in this column, could run for her seat.

One, the Yellow Sheet reported this week, is former legislator Ted Vogt.

He was appointed to represent the old Legislative District 30 in 2010, when Frank Antenori vacated the seat to become a state senator,  won re-election once, and was defeated for re-election in the new LD 10 in 2012.

Vogt is executive director of the Arizona Corporation Commission now, and has previously served as director of the state’s Departent of Veteran Services.

Another is Douglas City Council member Danny “DJ” Morales. A reserve Cochise County Sheriff’s Department deputy and Naval Reserve officer, Morales told the Douglas Dispatch his priorities would includebinational trade, border security, national security and education.

Contact: or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter


Tim Steller is the Star’s metro columnist. A 20-plus year veteran of reporting and editing, he digs into issues and stories that matter in the Tucson area, reports the results and tells you his opinion on it all.