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GOP group attacks Flake challenger as Trump heads to Arizona

A political group closely tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is out with a brutal new ad blasting Dr. Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state senator who is mounting a primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Flake.

Senate Leadership Fund: "ChemtrailKelli" AZ by Senate Leadership Fund on YouTube

"Not conservative. Just crazy ideas," reads the tagline for the ad from the Senate Leadership PAC, which refers to Ward as "Chemtrail Kelli." 

As a state senator, Ward organized a town hall to discuss "chemtrails," a debunked conspiracy theory that alleges that planes release toxic chemicals as part of a government plot. That town hall became an issue in 2016 when Ward mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge against Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. 

The ad comes as President Trump prepares to fly to Arizona on Tuesday for a rally in Phoenix. Flake has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, who has responded by tweeting positively about Ward.

Flake is one of the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents in 2018. And on Monday, it was revealed that the Mercer family, who are major Republican donors and allies of Mr. Trump, had donated $300,000 to a political group backing Ward's primary challenge.

The Tuesday night rally, where Mr. Trump will be joined by Vice President Mike Pence, is expected to attract thousands of attendees and protesters. The mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, has asked the president to delay the rally, but so far that request seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

"I believe the true intention is really inflame people's passion to further divide the country and that's why I said the president should delay this trip to Phoenix," Stanton said.

Flake and McCain have tussled with Mr. Trump in recent weeks. McCain was the decisive vote against the repeal of Obamacare in the Senate late last month, which prompted a number of barbs from Mr. Trump. 

Mr. Trump has also signaled that he may also announce a pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio at the rally. Arpaio, an outspoken supporter of Mr. Trump, is awaiting sentencing after a federal judge found that he broke the law by implementing traffic stops that targeted immigrants.