A former Flagstaff teacher and business owner is looking to challenge incumbent Senator Martha McSally for the Republican ticket in the race for U.S. Senate.
Ann Griffin, who has managed local political campaigns in the past, will be looking for someone to manage her own campaign as she announced she would be challenging McSally in the Republican primary in 2020.
Griffin has worked as a family involvement specialist at the business she owns, Arizona’s Family Matters, since 1997 and as a teacher for the Flagstaff Unified School District since 2009.
She said she has been politically active and thinking about running for higher office her entire life, but made the decision now because she wants to offer Arizona voters a choice for a different kind of Republican.
Griffin said she has spoken to Republicans who have told her she shouldn’t run because she has no name recognition or money.
“My response to them is that’s exactly why I’m doing this, because I believe government should be of the people,” Griffin said. “We have more than enough white men, altogether enough male and female attorneys, and an adequate representation of former military. So I believe it’s time for a teacher.”
And despite being a Republican, Griffin pointed to the Democratic-held House as an example of how Congress should reflect the demographic make-up of the country, be it through race, ethnicity, gender or other factors.
"I think we are not adequately served by a population in Congress that is limited to lawyers or people of wealth,” Griffin said. “I think for the first time the House of Representatives looks as though I would like it to look.”
Griffin said she feels left behind by a party that has changed since she first became a Republican in the 1970s. As a young woman living in the Midwest at the time, Griffin said she felt she could be a member of the Republican Party while also holding views like being pro-choice.
And Griffin said she doesn’t believe the people who made up that party have disappeared. Instead, they have just become silent, especially since the election of President Donald Trump.
Griffin said she doesn’t know what her chances are of beating McSally for the nomination, but she suspects there are enough disaffected Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats who feel the same way she does to give it a shot.
“I think there’s a need for a more moderate viewpoint in the discussion,” Griffin said.
If she is to win the Republican primary, she may need all the support she can get as many of her beliefs run contrary to where the party stands. For one, Griffin said she has a problem with the fact that McSally is currently a senator at all.
“I thought it was highly inappropriate for our governor to select a person that the voters had spoken very clearly that they did not want as the U.S. senator,” Griffin said. “To appoint her was really a slap in the face to the voters of Arizona. And I’m not running because I’m angry about that. I’m not really angry about that -- I’m just stupefied.”
If elected, Griffin said one of her top priorities is finding a way to address the financial situation the federal government has gotten itself into.
What has been done to the federal budget and the ballooning of the deficit is “absolutely criminal,” Griffin said. While balancing the budget was a huge political issue through the mid-2010s, Griffin said she doesn’t understand why it has taken a back seat recently.
“We cannot continue to live in a situation where we have a ballooning deficit. We are chaining our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren to a debt and a financial situation that is unconscionable,” Griffin said.
She said she was shocked and angered by the recently passed tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthiest portions of America and don’t help reduce the deficit. Griffin added she believes people should be taxed based on their income and on the amount of wealth they have amassed.
“We are out on a ledge and no one is paying attention. We cannot continue to live out here and currently we have a president who governs by tweets, who sets policy by tweet.” Griffin said. “We continue to live federally with an unbalanced budget. The budget should be balanced.”
On gun control, Griffin said although she believes in the right to bear arms and has taught riflery, she also thinks every firearm should be registered and there is no need to have assault-style weapons available in the U.S.
Griffin said she believes health care is a basic human right and supports a public option, but said anyone who wants private insurance should be able to keep that.
“I think it’s time for people to step away from the noise and the divisiveness and begin to talk to each other. This isn’t a soccer match, this is our democracy,” Griffin said.