I am beginning to think there are some pretty smart lawmakers coming from Arizona.
I read this piece on Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona 10, this morning and also follow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema on Twitter. Both are very proactive women with a lot of potential in Washington or Arizona.
I particularly like the “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” caucus for Congress. Genius.
WASHINGTON — In 2012, Martha McSally, a political novice, came so close to defeating her Democratic opponent, Representative Ron Barber, in Arizona that she flew to Washington for orientation and even appeared in the freshman class picture. She ultimately lost by fewer than 2,500 votes.
But Ms. McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot and now a freshman Republican lawmaker from the district that includes Tucson, did not quit. She defeated Mr. Barber in a rematch last year, and now fills a seat once held by Gabrielle Giffords.
Ms. McSally, 49, has competed in two Iron Man triathlons and spends most mornings back home running with Boomer, her golden retriever. In an interview, which has been condensed, she took a few minutes to talk about flying combat missions, her view of legislating — “Don’t do stupid stuff” — and her long journey to Congress.
What does it feel like to finally be in Washington, after coming so close last time?
The first few weeks it still seemed very surreal to me. At first, when I was voting, I was, like: “No one’s going to take this away from me? It’s not like my phone is going to ring? There’s no court case or, like, another recount?” Because it was just such a long hard battle. I counted up: It was 1,049 days from the day I decided to run to the day the judge finally declared the recount over. It really took the first month, almost, for it to just settle in, like: “I’m in Congress. I’m here. We made it. We won, and this is real.”
You were the first female Air Force pilot to fly a combat mission. How did that prepare you for your current job?
I think my being a combat pilot, being a woman who has had to break down barriers and succeed in a male-dominated environment and, I think, just being in the military for 26 years have all helped me. Being a female who has put up with some challenging and often hostile environments to break through barriers, and usually and often the only woman in the room and having to figure out how to succeed and be credible in that environment, has certainly translated to this male-dominated institution. So I’m very comfortable, actually, in this environment. It reminds me of a fighter squadron.
You’re planning a military operation, you come up with an objective. What end state are we trying to get on this issue? And then you identify what are the facts. What are our assumptions? What do we not know? What are we assuming? And then you identify courses of action to get to the end state, and you make rational decisions that are not based on emotion or pressure or whatever.
In one of your first votes, you were one of just 26 Republicans who voted against your party’s bill to revoke legal protections for young, undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Are there other issues for which you see yourself standing up to your own party?
We were joking about it yesterday. Maybe I’ll start a little group of us that’s called the Don’t Do Stupid Stuff caucus. I’m going to be in the D.D.S.S. caucus. I’m going to lead it. There’s no reason for us to be doing stupid things that are not getting us anywhere.
So in general, if we start doing any Don Quixote kinds of things that just don’t seem strategic, I’m going to be a voice against it. From my perspective I think in 2014 people voted against Obama, not necessarily for Republicans. And now we have two years to show that we can govern.
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
For my district, there are some pretty broad goals. One is to save the A-10 and support Davis-Monthan and Fort Huachuca, the two bases that are there. And support veterans, 85,000 of them.
Border security is a really big one. But in addition to securing the border, to increase the public safety of our community, we also want to take advantage of the international trade opportunities. So metaphorically, it’s like we need a high fence and a wide gate. So we need to stop the bad people, and then we need to invite those that want to trade with us and economic opportunities.
Have you gotten to know the city?
Oh, God, no. I go from the airport, to here, to my apartment. And every once in a while, maybe, an event or something that I have to go to. There’s just no time. I shouldn’t even admit this, but I have a goddaughter who lives here, and I haven’t seen her yet. But I’m not here to wine and dine. I’m here to work. And then if we’re done, then it’s time to go home and get back to the constituents and hear from them.
You successfully sued former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over a policy that required military women in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya when they went off base. What was that like?
Who, by the way, then donated to my campaign. We found out when we got the check. We picked it up from the post office box, like, “Hey, Donald Rumsfeld just wrote us a check.” I think somebody, like a friend of a friend, knows him and reached out to him. But either way, it’s kind of a cool story. Because, like, I sued him. I kicked his butt. I won. And then he wrote me a check, saying, “Hey, we need that kind of leadership in Congress.” So I shouldn’t say that I kicked his butt, but I just did.