Rep. Martha McSally. R-Arizona is the third person to run for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake. Her opponents are former State Sen. Kelli Ward, who failed to unseat Sen. John McCain, and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man in his 80s whose career as a law enforcement officer was, mildly speaking, controversial. So far the race is neck and neck, though McSally represents the best hope Republicans have of retaining the Senate seat and avoiding another Alabama-style debacle.

A compelling personal story as the first female fighter pilot

McSally has a compelling personal story as the first female Fighter Pilot to fly combat missions in the A-10. She also successfully fought a defense department rule that compelled female service members to wear Islamic robes over their uniforms while in Saudi Arabia. Thus, she checks off two boxes as a warrior against terrorism and one against sexism. She should appeal to women voters. She has a great line in her campaign video: “Grow a pair of ovaries.”

Trump loyalist

In her campaign kickoff video, McSally makes sure to tie herself to President Trump, including footage of him praising her. While Trump won Arizona by just four percentage points during the 2016 election, Trump supporters are a crucial voting bloc that she will have to win over if she is to beat Ward and Arpaio during the primaries.

McSally a conventional conservative

A look at McSally’s political positions suggests that she is a conventional, Reagan conservative. She is anti-abortion, pro-defense (naturally), and anti-illegal immigration. She is, on the other hand, a big proponent of solar energy, a growing industry in the sun drenched Arizona.

What are her chances?

Arpaio’s entry into the race was actually good news for McSally. The scenario has the former sheriff splitting the populist vote with Kelli Ward, giving McSally enough room to go over the top in the primaries. Unlike Alabama, Arizona has a winner take all rule. If McSally wins with 34 percent of the vote in the primaries, she is the Republican nominee, no runoff required.

She is also counting on the support of not only President Trump but ailing Senator and a former pilot himself John McCain. Her chances of winning the general election in red state Arizona are considered excellent.

Just as a side note, McSally leaves behind a House seat that will have to be defended against a Democratic drive to take over the lower body. Her district is considered leans Republican, but holding onto the seat is not considered a slam dunk. Much will depend on the quality of the candidates and whether 2018 shapes up as a wave election or not.