[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Arizona Senator John McCain has twice been censured in his home state. His first censure was by Maricopa County GOP, the largest Republican group in the state, in January 2014. The second was by the Arizona GOP approximately two weeks after the first censure. With both circumstances, the reason was the same. McCain faced censure for his RINO ways, crossing the aisle far too many times and siding with the Democrats and against his party’s platform. While McCain has announced his intention to run for the Senate seat, for the fourth time, this latest move makes it clear that he is concerned by the censures he faced.[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”5517620b381df”][vc_column_text]Although voter registration in Arizona requires the selection of a political party, primaries are semi-open. That means that independents are able to vote in a primary without having to commit as a registered member of any political party. The measure, passed in 1998, is believed by some to negatively affect the integrity of the vote with more liberal independents helping candidates like McCain, seen by conservatives in Arizona as ‘squishy,’ an edge in the Republican primary.
The movement to close primaries in Arizona is being led by Arizona Libertarians and Republicans. The Arizona Republic reported on McCain’s response to this attempt to close primaries in which McCain invoked the name of Ronald Reagan. He said, “I don’t agree with it, because I think we’re a big-tent party. We want more people. That’s what Ronald Reagan was all about. From what I’m hearing, there is that movement, but I don’t think there’s a majority that’s for it.”
So, McCain wants to keep primaries semi-open in order to court liberal independents who are believed to skew elections his way.
At the state GOP’s meeting in January, Arizona Republicans adopted a resolution directing the state party’s executive committee to “file the necessary paperwork” to close their primary. The executive committee meets Saturday and is set to review the issue, said Tim Sifert, an Arizona Republican Party spokesman.
In an e-mail to The Republic, Sifert added: “It’s not simply a matter of changing an internal party process; in fact the resolution also called for the Legislature to pass legislation to close the primary (which has not happened and the session has ended).”
McCain addressed the effects of the censure with the Arizona Republic’s editorial board saying that the measure sparked a movement, but a much different one than the conservative wave of the Tea Party movement. Addressing whether it stung, he said, “Oh, of course. Of course. But that did spark a movement, as you know, that did move the party remarkably towards what I think is the party of Ronald Reagan, and that’s a right-of-center party.”
That movement was the systematic removal of precinct committee officers who opposed McCain in favor of those loyal to him. A new PAC, called the Arizona Grassroots Action PAC, was behind this targeting of McCain opposition. The largest financiers of this PAC were not from Arizona, as one would expect. Instead, they were Gregory W. Wendt from San Francisco and Colorado resident Gregory B Maffei, president of Liberty Media Corporation.
McCain believes that he is being targeted for removal by the Senate Conservatives Fund, and other national groups aligned with Tea Party principles, who are encouraging Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon to run against him. Former Virginia Governor Ken Cuccinelli, now president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said, “The grass roots in Arizona want McCain to retire or be replaced by a conservative in the primary next year.”
While Salmon has not addressed the possibility of running, Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward has formed an exploratory committee to gear up for a possible run against McCain in 2016.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]