Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Wednesday he is supporting Kelli Ward for the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., next fall, making him the first Republican senator to support her candidacy.
In a statement, Paul pointed to Ward's stance against Obamacare and the "fresh perspective" she would bring to the Senate as reasons for his endorsement of the two-time Arizona Senate candidate.
“As a fellow physician, Dr. Ward witnessed firsthand the damage Obamacare has inflicted on our nation’s healthcare system,” Paul said. “As senator, she will bring a new voice and a fresh perspective to the Senate. Likewise, her record as state senator in Arizona shows that she served her constituents admirably and was not beholden to lobbyists or special interests.
"This is what we need more of in Washington, D.C. I support her candidacy for the U.S. Senate," Paul added.
Ward received a boost last week after Flake announced he will not run for re-election, largely due to his uphill climb to either the Republican nomination or in a general election due to his lack of support for President Trump.
Trump, meanwhile, has spoken highly of Ward, but has not gone out and officially endorsed her candidacy. Many backers of the president are supporting Ward though, including Fox News host Laura Ingraham and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
However, Ward is not expected to be the only Republican seeking the nomination as multiple members of the Arizona congressional delegation have been mentioned as possible candidates.
Reps. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and David Schweikert, R-Ariz., have been talked about, while Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit is also expected to explore a bid.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the pre-eminent candidate and is not expected to face a tough primary challenge.