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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chairwoman, is throwing her support behind a first-time Republican candidate who’s running to defeat longtime Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in Washington.
Stefanik is backing Tiffany Smiley and will put the resources of her political action committee, Elevate PAC, into flipping the traditionally blue state during the 2022 midterm elections.
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“I am proud to endorse Tiffany Smiley for United States Senate,” Stefanik said in statement first obtained by Fox News. “While I’m laser-focused on taking back the House, this Senate race is becoming a key battleground in the fight to fire Chuck Schumer.”
Smiley is a nurse, mother and advocate for wounded veterans — including her husband.
“Tiffany took on the Pentagon for her husband, she demanded VA reform for our returning heroes, and Tiffany Smiley is the fighter the people of Washington will be able to count on as their next senator,” Stefanik said.
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While political pundits have largely put the Washington Senate seat safely in the blue column, Stefanik’s team sees an opening for a GOP pickup.
Stefanik views this “as an overlooked race” pointing to Smiley’s “solid” fundraising and President Biden’s low approval ratings that have dogged Democrats in blue states, according to her campaign.
Smiley said she’s grateful for Stefanik’s backing in her effort to defeat Murray.
“Sadly, Patty Murray has lost sight of the need to deliver for the people of Washington and has simply become a rubberstamp for President Biden’s failed agenda,” Smiley said in a statement. “I will never forget where I came from.”
Murray became the first female senator from Washington state after her 1992 election, and has been re-elected four times since. She has been a part of Democratic leadership since 2007.
Murray was the first female chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the first female chair of the Senate Budget Committee. She currently leads the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“It’s no surprise Tiffany Smiley is getting support from other MAGA Republicans like her,” Washington State Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski said in a statement to Fox News. “They know she wants to put Mitch McConnell back in power, and would back their extreme agenda, whether it’s raising taxes on Washington state workers and retirees, gutting Medicare and Social Security, or threatening our democracy.”
Smiley grabbed national attention after her Army officer husband was permanently blinded during a suicide bomber attack in Iraq in 2005. She told Fox News last year that her efforts on behalf of her husband “opened my eyes to the failure of the federal government to protect and support our men and women in uniform.”
Her push for reforms landed her on national TV and helped to push the Trump administration and Congress to pass reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Former President Donald Trump signed a bill into law in 2017 that gave leadership at the VA more power to fire failed employees and protect those who uncover agency wrongdoing.
Smiley earned the second E-PAC endorsement ever in a U.S. Senate race, behind Jane Timken in Ohio. E-PAC helps recruit and elect more Republican women to Congress.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.