Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich officially announced a Senate campaign on Thursday, eying a general election matchup with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Brnovich, who was elected as the top law enforcement official for the state in 2014, enters the race as the favorite in a somewhat crowded field of Republicans to take on Kelly, who’s running for a full six-year term next year after winning the Senate seat last fall. But former President Donald Trump, who is certain to loom large in the GOP primary, has already lined up against the state attorney general for “doing little” to audit the Arizona election results, despite no evidence of fraud.
In a sign of how Brnovich plans to woo the Trump base, his announcement video focuses on how “trust” in everything from safety to the economy to the vote is the “cornerstone of our republic.” The video features clips of both President Joe Biden and Kelly, arguing they have “failed” to live up to the trust voters put in them and that they are the reason “mistrust runs deep.”
“Trust and freedom are more than words for me,” Brnovich says, noting he is the son of immigrants and served in the Army National Guard. “I have dedicated my entire career to upholding the rule of law and fighting for justice.”
He adds: “It’s time to take the fight to the United States Senate. We need an Arizona conservative in Washington who stands up for us and our values. … I’ll tune out the political noise and do what is right for Arizona.”
Trump is not mentioned in the video, but Brnovich is shown wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt that says, “Make America Grateful Again.”
Kelly is likely to be one of the most targeted Democrats in 2022, two years after he won the special election to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat. A former astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Kelly won the race by over 2 points, but Republicans are hopeful they can take advantage of historic trends that make it easier for the party out of the White House to win races in the subsequent midterms.
Trump will be a factor for Brnovich, however, with the former President making clear that he plans to be active in the 2022 midterms, using his power with the Republican base to back candidates whom he believes will be loyal to issues he cares about, like passing restrictive voting laws.
Trump, who has fully thrown his support behind a so-called audit of election results in Arizona’s Maricopa County, recently slammed Brnovich as someone who has “done little so far on Voter Integrity and the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.”
He added that “our country needs” Brnovich to “step it up.”
Democrats highlighted the fissures between Trump and Brnovich in their response to his entry.
“Brnovich’s announcement means Arizona’s Republican Senate primary will be nasty, expensive – and long,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, linking to a statement where Trump calls Brnovich “lackluster.”