McSally makes it official: She's in Senate race

BREAKING: Martha McSally launches Senate campaign in heated GOP race

The Republican congresswoman hopes to come out on top in a crowded field of candidates to fill the seat being vacated by Sen.

"I'm a fighter pilot, and I talk like one", McSally says in her announcement video.

"I absolutely refuse to bow down to Sharia law", McSally says, after a narrator discusses her successful fight against a US military policy that required women to wear head-to-toe garb in Saudi Arabia.

"Here's the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I'm not willing to take, and that I can't in good conscience take", Flake told The Arizona Republic in a telephone interview.

McSally, an Air Force Academy graduate and the first U.S. woman to fly combat missions in enemy territory, lost two bids for the House before narrowly defeating former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber for the seat in 2014.

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The U.S. Air Force Academy graduate's official biography also notes that her squadron was awarded the Air Force Association David C. Schilling Award in 2006 for their work in Afghanistan. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an immigration hardliner, and former state Sen.

Ms. McSally is the third candidate to jump into the Republican primary to replace Sen. Sharia law is the religious law of Islam but has become a political punching bag for many conservatives.

The Air Force colonel and first female fighter pilot in that branch of the military is now serving her second term in the House Representatives. Both are seeking to succeed Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who announced he would not seek re-election after emerging as a leading critic of Trump within the president's own party.

"I speak a little salty behind closed doors at times as well, so I'm not going to throw the first stone on using any language", McSally said after facing dozens of supporters inside a Tucson airport hangar.

McSally has the backing of the Republican establishment and is expected to formally announce her candidacy later today in Arizona.

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The prevailing candidate is expected to face Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in the general election. Ward's campaign has called McSally "Jeff Flake 2.0" and noted that McSally refused to endorse Trump past year. Kelli Ward, a vocal Trump advocate, are also GOP candidates.

McSally acknowledged she has some challenges in the state when it comes to name recognition but pointed out she was named the ninth most-effective member of Congress during her freshman term by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, based on getting bills introduced and passed.

Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter.

The event ended with McSally piloting a fully restored silver AT-6 plane, which McSally said she promised the owners that it would be returned "with a few more miles on it, no scratches and an unused parachute".

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have tipped its hand Friday on which candidate it favors, name-dropping Kirkpatrick in a tweet reacting to McSally's announcement.

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"The Arizona Republican primary will be nasty, expensive and very long".

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