KINGMAN - Kelli Ward will surrender her seat in the state Senate in order to focus full-time on her campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, on Wednesday told about 50 enthusiastic supporters who gathered at the Mohave County Republican Party headquarters on Stockton Hill Road that she will resign her Senate seat Dec. 15.
Her husband, Mike Ward, a party leader, said Mohave County Republican committeemen will hold a special meeting Dec. 19 in Lake Havasu City. They will select three candidates to replace Ward and submit them to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, who will make the appointment.
Mike Ward said he hopes the prevailing candidate is named by the time the 2016 legislative session begins Jan. 12.
Kelli Ward said she understands that in order to win the election next November, she must first defeat McCain in the August Republican primary.
"I'll be a strong, fresh, fearless voice representing Arizonans in D.C.," said Ward.
Ward said McCain's more than 30 years in the U.S. Senate has led him to a sense of entitlement.
"Clearly, he believes the office belongs to him," she said, and again made the claim that McCain "moves further to the left every year."
She said she disagreed with McCain on immigration and border policy.
Ward said she is a proven "consistent conservative" who authored 19 major bills during her two terms in the state Legislature. She said the "Feds are battering us" and shoving "D.C. legislation down our throats."
She said she also knows the race won't be easy.
"I know this will be a tough, hard-fought battle," she said. "I'm now convinced I can fight the bigger battle against the Beltway." To do so, Ward said, she will have to focus full-time on the campaign and resign from the state Senate.
"I will miss taking responsibility and working to pass common-sense legislation," she said.
Ward also said she is encouraged and gratified with support she's received from former McCain allies, along with a number of state lawmakers.
"Please stand with me," she said. "Let's give John McCain a permanent rest from the crushing weight of D.C. bureaucracy. I'm Kelli Ward, and I approve this message."
According to the Federal Election Commission, Ward's campaign raised nearly $528,000 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 of this year. That includes $442,807 in contributions and $85,000 in candidate loans. At the end of the last reporting period that ended Sept. 30, the campaign reported having a little more than $320,800 in available cash.
Both Ward and her husband are physicians.
U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., is seeking the Democratic nomination in this Senate race.