It’s been quite a year for political nicknames. There’s Lil’ Marco, Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Crazy Bernie, Tiny Hands Trump, and, now, Chemtrail Kelli.
A former physician, Kelli “Chemtrail” Ward was elected to the Arizona state senate in 2012, and she’s now seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, hoping to unseat John McCain. McCain’s campaign is suggesting that Ward is a believer in the chemtrail conspiracy theory, which holds that the government is releasing chemical agents from airplanes. His campaign introduced the nickname in a video, which points out that Ward organized a hearing in 2014 to discuss chemtrails and said she might sponsor legislation to deal with the issue.
Ward, for her part, tweeted in April that she doesn’t actually believe in chemtrails, and that she organized the hearing in response to constituent concerns, not her own. She did invite two staffers from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to speak at the hearing, and they assured residents that chemtrails are not a thing, though it’s unknown whether they convinced anyone.
But the story doesn’t end there. Unfortunately for the McCain camp, the incumbent senator has a little chemtrail history of his own: Last year, McCain’s office forwarded a letter to the EPA from one of his constituents who was concerned about the issue. “My dearest friend said those are Chemical Trails planes,” wrote the constituent, “they omit chemical emissions and leave those nasty steaks in the sky.”
When Talking Points Memo inquired about the forwarded letter, a McCain spokesperson dismissed it as irrelevant, saying, “It’s standard policy to forward constituent correspondence outside the purview of the Senate office to a relevant federal agency. The Senate office receives more than 600,000 pieces of mail per year, on issues ranging from veteran’s benefits to UFOs. If you’re trying to compare that to holding an official taxpayer-funded town hall meeting to entertain chemtrail conspiracy theories, you may have been abducted by aliens yourself.”
That would be one way to get away from this godforsaken election season. Beam us up, Scotty.