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Arizona needs leaders to stand tall, remain independent during crisis

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., smiles with her staff after delivering her first major speech on the Senate floor, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. McSally is a former Air Force colonel who flew combat missions in Iraq and Kuwait. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., smiles with her staff after delivering her first major speech on the Senate floor, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. McSally is a former Air Force colonel who flew combat missions in Iraq and Kuwait. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When Martha McSally was appointed to the U.S. Senate, she promised to “devote all of my energies to ensuring that all Arizonans have a voice.” As we face the devastating effects of coronavirus, now is McSally’s chance to follow through on those words. Blindly following Mitch McConnell and actively participating in the culture of corruption he has created will not cut it. We need McSally to be an independent voice for Arizona, now more than ever.

The passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package will go a long way toward addressing the many hardships Arizonans have and will continue to face. But the way we arrived there is deeply troubling.

Mark Cardenas

Mark Cardenas

The initial version of the relief package was partisan and failed to provide protections for American workers. Worse, it was loaded with special interest giveaways and a totally unregulated $500 billion-dollar slush fund for big business with no oversight. The bill was a perfect illustration of the corporatist rot and corruption McConnell has created.

McSally blindly following McConnell’s wishes and so willingly voting for a Wall Street oriented bill should concern Arizonans.

Further, attacking Democrats for not supporting McConnell’s Wall Street driven relief package, then falsely describing the bi-partisan bill that passed as more or less the same does not demonstrate leadership, and it is not the voice Arizonans need in Washington.

Even with the relief package, the work is not done, as Arizona faces a continued shortage of ventilators, masks, gowns, and other essential medical supplies. The director of the Department of Health has now recommended limiting testing even further to ration the dwindling supply of tests. As a fellow veteran, I wonder: Would we ever go into combat so short on critical supplies?

Cases and deaths in Arizona continue to rise, and our hospitals are nearing capacity. Veterans like myself, first responders, the elderly, and other at-risk populations will continue to need additional assistance as new and unforeseeable problems are sure to emerge.

McSally must stop the partisan games. Instead of making false proclamations of suspending her campaign to focus on this crisis, we need McSally to find her independent voice and take decisive action to help our state.

McSally must use the bully pulpit of her office to call on leaders in Washington and here in Arizona to take immediate action. Like her seatmate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and conscientious mayors around the state, McSally should call upon Gov. Doug Ducey to take more aggressive measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Arizona, starting with narrowing the list of essential business and activities.

And the work in Washington can’t simply stop with this relief bill. Given the opportunity, McConnell will slip right back into his habits of abetting his corporate allies. McSally must push to ensure there is no premature “opening” of the economy by some arbitrary date, only to satisfy McConnell’s corporate allies. McSally must call on McConnell and her GOP colleagues to commit to doing what is best for everyday Arizonans and the country.

To get through this crisis we need our leaders to step up and stand as independent voices for us and not Mitch McConnell or Wall Street. Instead of taking a three week recess, perhaps McSally should immediately return to Washington and continue working.

Like Senators Goldwater, Hayden, or McCain, Arizonans want leaders who will stand tall and remain fiercely independent during this crisis. McSally now has that chance. I hope she won’t let us down.

— Mark Cardenas is an Iraq War veteran and a former member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019. He currently is a legislative affairs specialist at Torres Law and Consulting Group.


  1. I appreciate your attempt to call Senator McSally out, and ask her to change. But, she is running for re-election as a Trump-sycophant, so it’s doubtful she will stand up for the people of Arizona. It seems there is a good chance she will pay for that in November. As far as suspending campaigning, the Trump model is to use this pandemic as fodder for self-promotion. We’ll see how well she follows that.

  2. According to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s office, the U.S. Senate reconvenes April 25th. Thus, most, if not all, of our Representatives and Senators are currently working in-state, not DC.
    They are not necessarily on “vacation.”
    And, even though they’re entitled to take a well-deserved Spring break, most are likely addressing state needs – like the CORONAVIRUS.

  3. During these challenging and unprecedented times, Arizonans are working together to help each other. Elected leaders, private citizens, educators, healthcare workers, first responders, companies, and non profits are coming together to take action, build solutions, and help in ways that they never would have considered in “normal” times. There is evidence of this all around us. Now is not the time for political positioning. It is the time for all of us to come together to help each other. Our Senators and Representatives, along with their teams in D.C. and AZ, are ALL working to help in these efforts. Our State Legislators are also doing their part. Some of them are on the front-line working with patients under the most challenging conditions. Governor Ducey is doing what he needs to do and is working with his public health teams and all of his team to try and balance our health and economic needs. I am not just reading about this, I am seeing it happen all around me. As Arizonans, each of us are making decisions and taking actions that will shape the outcome of how this Health Emergency will impact the people of Arizona. History will show us what worked well and what did not. For now, we need to devote our time and our energies to helping each other. There will be time for politics later.

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