PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Arizona State Troopers Association confirmed on Wednesday that the group recently dropped its endorsement for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a candidate in the highly contested U.S. Senate race.

Turns out members weren't happy the association made the endorsement without asking them to vote on it first.

"Terribly disappointed," said Michael Stouffer, a retired Arizona Department of Public Safety sergeant and a member of the Arizona State Troopers Association. He's critical of the executive board's decision.

Stouffer would've rather seen the association be neutral from the start. He's been a member of the association for more than 40 years and has never seen anything like this.

"It seems quite clear that our board of directors was either naïve or either overlooked the opportunity to assess the sensitivity and importance of this particular election and how it might be perceived by the membership," he added.

Jimmy Chavez, the Arizona State Troopers Association president made it clear that the association is now "neutral" and not endorsing Sinema and not endorsing her Republican opponent Martha McSally.

He addressed membership concerns with this e-mailed statement:

"The AZ Troopers Executive Board voted to endorse Kyrsten Sinema for U.S. Senate for the general election, as the organization has done in the last three federal elections. Due to the divisive nature of the race, the membership has stated a preference to stay neutral. All members are encouraged to vote for the candidate they personally support. AZ Troopers will not be endorsing any candidate for U.S. Senate and will refrain from any further statements concerning the race."

"There's a range of emotions from outright anger. There are members resigning after decades of membership over this," added Stouffer. "In the past, things were certainly different than they are today. Our political climate today is a bit more polarized, maybe even contentious," he explained.

A 30-second commercial that showed law enforcement support for Sinema ran for an undisclosed amount of time.

"The TV ad ran its full course and it's not airing anymore" explained Sinema's campaign spokeswoman Helen Hare.

She added a "traffic change" was ordered Friday, Oct., "completely unrelated to the AZ Troopers Associations discussions."

"We respect the association's decision to remain neutral given the divisive tone of the race and appreciate their support for Kyrsten's past three elections, as well as continued support from members and law enforcement officers across the state," explained Hare.

Political analyst Marcus Dell'Artino, partner with First Strategic, doesn't think this association's decision to change their stance to neutral will change voters' minds.

"No, it won't have an impact on the election and here's why. Less than seven percent of the voters are undecided. You're talking to a very small margin of voters and for those voters this ad is insignificant. They want to be a deeper dive on the candidates and the issues," explained Dell'Artino.

However, Stouffer worried it could, especially since it's expected to be a tight race.

"People have been made aware that this organization endorsed this candidate and withdrawing that endorsement after the fact may be a little too little too late," he said.

Arizona's Family reached out to McSally's campaign for comment.

In an emailed statement, one of her spokespeople said, “Martha stands with law enforcement, and she will continue doing everything she can so they have the resources they to keep Arizonans safe. The Sinema campaign should take a lesson from this: Don’t try to pull a fast one on Arizona’s law enforcement, they’ll catch you.”

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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