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Tucson vets call GOP Senate candidate Masters' comments on military 'disgraceful rhetoric' & 'disqualifying'

Tucson vets call GOP Senate candidate Masters' comments on military 'disgraceful rhetoric' & 'disqualifying'

  • Sue Ritz, a former master sergeant with the Army National Guard, criticized Senate candidate Blake Masters during a press conference Thursday.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comSue Ritz, a former master sergeant with the Army National Guard, criticized Senate candidate Blake Masters during a press conference Thursday.

Three Tucson-area veterans sharply criticized U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters during a press conference Thursday, calling comments he made against American military leaders "disqualifying" and "disgraceful."

Masters, who managed to fight his way through a brace of Republicans for a chance to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in November, has become haunted by comments he's made over the years—first as a student at Stanford taking digs at the U.S. government on libertarian and CrossFit blogs—and later as a neophyte political candidate backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

This includes a statement Masters released on Twitter in November, when he called top generals "woke corporate bozos." Along with the statement, Masters released a video where he argued the nation's military leadership is "woke" and "totally incompetent."

Thursday, with the Pima County Courthouse as a backdrop, Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, called Masters' comments "disgraceful rhetoric."

"When Masters calls our military incompetent, it degrades a half-million veterans," along with the tens of thousands of active duty military members who live in Arizona, she said. "And, that's big talk for a guy who never served anybody but himself," Andersh said. She contrasted Masters with Kelly, noting the Democratic senator's service as a U.S. Navy pilot and astronaut. "Sen. Kelly is one of us. He served alongside us, he respects us, he supports us. Blake Masters has done nothing but disrespect us."

Don Womack, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War, argued Masters "doesn't care that I, like countless Americans before me, put everything on the line to defend our nation. To protect our freedoms. To keep us safe."

Womack said Masters' comments were "despicable" and "disqualifying."

"At the end of the day, what Masters has said is nothing short of disgraceful. His comments are a personal attack on me and every other veteran and military family who has sacrificed to serve our country," Womack said.

Masters campaign would not comment on the criticisms, which were made at a press conference organized by the Arizona Democratic Party.

Recent polling shows the incumbent Kelly leading by just a hair's breadth against Masters.

In a poll released by Emerson College Polling this week, 47 percent of voters would pick Kelly, while 45 percent of voters would pick Masters. However, 4 percent of people said they would select someone else, while 5 percent were undecided. With a margin of error of 3.85 percent, the vote could swing to either candidate in the coming weeks.

In November, Masters released a video where he decried the nation's military leadership. "No active duty American general has ever won a war," Masters said. "Think of how crazy that is. These people get promoted by giving political correct PowerPoint presentations," he said. "That helps explain why after trillions of dollars and 20 years of effort this grand project to remake the Middle East and democratize Afghanistan failed."

And, last year, during a meeting in Apache Junction, Masters claimed the nation's generals are "left-wing politicians at this point."

"It's very hard to become a general without being some kind of left-of-center politician," Masters during a August 2021 meeting of the Apache Junction Ladies for President Trump, reported Vice News. "I would love to see all the generals get fired. You take the most conservative colonels, you promote them to general. Not because the ideology is important, but because the conservative colonels will be able to leave the ideology aside," Masters claimed.

"The people of Arizona have a proud tradition of respect for our military. We honor our veterans and we've even elected them to represent us in public office," said Arizona Army National Guard veteran Sue Ritz. "Arizonans across the political spectrum—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—all respected the late, great Senator John McCain, his service to our country, and his sacrifices as a prisoner of war."

"But listening to a guy like Blake Masters insult our military, while running against Mark Kelly, a Navy combat pilot, for the seat once occupied by the great Senator John McCain, well that's an insult to everyone," Ritz said.

Ritz, a former master sergeant, said that there can be a valid place for "comments and concerns" about the military and how the nation prosecutes its wars. "But the military doesn't make those decisions," she said. "War is politics by other means. We are subject to the leadership of our people in the Congress and at the president is our commander in chief."

"So yeah, there's room for criticism, but from a guy like Masters? Yeah, I don't think so," Ritz said. "He's still young enough to join. If he's got so many things he's going do to change the military–well he's 35 years old—there's a recruiting station I can take to him right now. He can join the Army National Guard. I'll drive."

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