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Star endorsement: Congressional District 2
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Star endorsement: Congressional District 2

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Four years ago, when Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, first ran for public office, she was a newcomer to politics. Her clear intelligence and drive were obvious, as was her mastery of military matters. But she spoke in generalities about policy matters — as many novice candidates do.

That was then. Four years later, with two years in Congress under her belt, McSally is a strong, smart and pragmatic representative of Congressional District 2, one of the state’s most evenly divided districts politically.

This is why we endorse Martha McSally for Congress in CD2.

McSally, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat Matt Heinz, a physician and former state lawmaker.

Heinz is a solid candidate with good legislative experience. We believe that his bipartisan work and expertise in health policy in the Legislature recommends him as a problem-solver.

But the representative from CD2 will be one of 435 members of the U.S. House, and Southern Arizona needs someone who can effectively advocate for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca and our region’s other military installations.

McSally is that person.

She first came to Tucson when she was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and has established herself as an expert on the A-10 fighter. She was stationed at D-M four times and commanded the deployable squadron of A-10s.

She knows the importance of the A-10 to D-M and has made defending the viability of the aircraft a top priority. She’s focused on the A-10 in the short term, but also looks to the future by working to attract and expand other missions — such as drones or F-16s — to the base. “I come with credibility,” she said.

The Air Force wants to retire the A-10s and replace them with the much more technologically advanced —and much louder — F-35s. McSally held hearings on the viability of the A-10 to emphasize its effectiveness in close-air support in combat.

She’s also advocated to keep the EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare and jamming squadron at D-M.

McSally has been successful for two years in keeping full funding for the A-10 and EC-130H. She also was a strong advocate for preventing the Air Force from retiring the A-10 until there was a fly-off between the A-10 and the F-35 to evaluate the two fighters. She wrote the requirements for that fly-off test.

Much of McSally’s thinking is rooted in the military mindset. “Veterans know how to come up with an objective” and figure out what needs to happen to accomplish that goal.

“I have situational awareness,” McSally said. “What can we get done?”

She did this with her WASP legislation. It allows women who served in World War II — the Women Airforce Service Pilots — to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

We do have our difference with McSally on issues, such women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care. But when it comes to Southern Arizona issues, McSally has been there, doing the work and getting results.

When faced with a challenge, McSally said she asks herself, “What’s the best way to get this done?” That’s a question key toward being effective in a divided Congress and representing a politically divided district.

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