GOP senator awarded for supporting term limits she previously opposed


The appointed Arizona senator ran in 2012 arguing that the Constitution was fine as is and voters could fire career politicians with their votes.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who was appointed to the late Sen. John McCain's vacant seat just weeks after Arizona voters rejected her for that very job, ran for office in 2012 arguing that term limits were not necessary. McSally said that she trusted the Constitution and believed an "awakened" and "engaged" electorate could vote "people out of office that need to be voted out." Seven years later, it appears she no longer trusts the voters to make those decisions.

McSally, who recently admitted that she is unhappy in her job and is struggling to raise money for her 2020 election, announced some good news on Tuesday: She received the "Champion of Term Limits Award" from the group U.S. Term Limits. "Elected officials should be true representatives of the people—not career politicians," she tweeted. She proclaimed herself "honored" and pledged to support term limits legislation in the Senate and to "never serve more than" two full terms in the body.

In a press release, she noted she pledged last October to support a constitutional amendment to limit individuals to three two-year House terms and two six-year Senate terms and that she is "one of only 14 Senators to co-sponsor term limit legislation."

But back in 2012, during her first unsuccessful run for the House of Representatives, McSally took the exact opposite position. Asked about term limits at a candidate forum, she pointed to the fact that the framers did not put them in the Constitution.

"Our founding document, in the Constitution, is very clear. The House of Representatives is supposed to be the voice of the people. Everybody is up to be hired or fired every two years. And that is what the system is supposed to be all about," she argued. "The Senate was supposed to provide a little more stability there with six years, to be a little bit more sort-of longer looking. And so the design is there and I agree that if the American people were just engaged in executing their responsibility and their absolute right — which is to get engaged, get involved, and fire people when they're no longer representing them, then that would take care of this whole issue."

"I don't think anyone should be spending a career in Congress, but I think this the way to address it is not by having a law to put a lid on it," she said.

A McSally spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry as to why she changed her mind.

Her actions, however, suggest that she may not be fully convinced even now that people who have served more than two terms in the Senate should exit. Through her Thunderbolt leadership PAC, she has given at least $5,000 to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and $5,000 to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), both of whom are currently seeking their fourth Senate terms, and $10,000 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984.

Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson Brad Bainum said, "Arizonans know they can't trust Martha McSally because she regularly chooses her corporate backers and political career over what's best for Arizona. She can't be trusted to do what's right for Arizona."

This is far from the first issue on which McSally has flip-flopped. Since her initial runs for Congress, she has taken contradictory positions on whether to build a border wall, whether to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, and whether to increase the national debt, among others.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.