Persisting in a war with those who don’t pledge allegiance to the five-term U.S. Senator, John McCain and his loyalists are stomping on efforts to return the Arizona primary election to a pure party primary election.
Just days ago, McCain announced a bid for what would be his sixth term in the U.S. Senate, extending his tenure in Washington D.C. to four decades, having served in the House of Representative prior to election to the Senate. Conservatives promptly came out in revolt against a sustained McCain Senate reign in a campaign highlighting the senator’s liberal history.
A 1998 Arizona ballot measure gave independents a license to vote in the political party primary election of their choosing without having to commit as a registered member of that party. That law is facing a challenge from Arizonans including Libertarians and Republicans. Libertarians initiated court proceedings to return the integrity of their primary, according to the Arizona Republic.
McCain acknowledged Monday that he expects to face a challenge from the right and could benefit from liberal independent supporters in the 2016 primary. The Republic reported, “Many of McCain’s critics support the push to close the primary, with the suggestion being that the closer-to-center McCain benefits from the independents voting in the Republican primary.”
So far, “rising star” Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward is the only Republican to take a formal step in the direction of a McCain challenge, announcing an exploratory committee this week.
McCain told the Republic, “I know there are many people in the Republican Party who do not want me to stay there. I understand that. For me to think that everybody loves me is a degree of narcissism and delusion that I am not capable of.”
In January of 2014, Arizona Republicans formally censured McCain for offenses including a, “long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrats, such as Amnesty, funding for ObamaCare, the debt ceiling, liberal nominees, [and] assaults on the Constitution and 2nd amendment.”
Following the censure, McCain was cited as threatening he was “more seriously” considering a sixth run for Senate in retaliation.
McCain stalwarts have been on the attack against the revealed power of the party base since the censure, aggressively knocking party leaders out in favor of McCain loyalists. “He was very unhappy with the censure and wanted to make sure it never happened again,” said Mike Hellon, McCain’s 2010 deputy campaign manager, according to Politico.
McCain faithfuls Jon Seaton and Christian Ferry have reportedly been a part of the effort to unseat “unfriendly” precinct committeemen through a newly-formed Super PAC titled, Arizona Grassroots Action PAC. The largest donations came from a financier out of San Francisco, Gregory W. Wendt, and Colorado resident Gregory B Maffei, president of Liberty Media Corporation.
Ousted District 30 GOP Chairman Timothy Schwartz said, “It’s very clear what’s going on,” he said. “Look, John McCain has prominence and money and influence and because of that he thinks he can ramrod us,” according to Politico.
That report also noted the words of A.J. LaFaro, the Maricopa Party Chairman who accused McCain of party “ethnic cleansing” in an “all out war.” LaFaro said, “For John McCain to have been so vindictive in his actions… It’s just amazing.”
Arizona Republican Party spokesman Tim Sifert emailed the Republic regarding a January party resolution to file paperwork to close the primary, “the resolution also called for the Legislature to pass legislation to close the primary.”
McCain appears to be running scared following the crescendo of hard fundraising pushes that led to his re-election effort announcement. He also faces the power of potential McCain-challenger support from organizations like those that launched the immediate retaliation to the incumbent’s announcement.
Noted widespread dissatisfaction with McCain, coupled with a strong potential contender, is shaping up to what could be one of the next epic battles for the soul of the Republican Party in 2016.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.