If you love Donald Trump, Arizona’s got a Republican primary for you.
Arizona’s primary election is today and all three of the Republican U.S. Senate candidates have been boasting about being the most Donald Trump-like.
It is pretty remarkable that none have mentioned John McCain, or even his predecessor Barry Goldwater, both amazing statesmen who are admired around the world.
No, this GOP primary is like a reality TV slugfest with all three trying to prove how much Trump loves them.
The political campaign ads that Arizonans have been watching for months could lead many voters to ask, like in an episode of To Tell The Truth, “Will the candidate who really, really, really loves Donald Trump the most please stand up.”
To prove she’s the far-right of the far-right, Kelli Ward has been traveling around campaigning with Mike Cernovich, an alt-right conspiracy theorist who brought us the Hillary Clinton Pizzagate story. You remember, Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring in a DC pizza shop? Totally awful and completely made up, but one guy took it seriously and grabbed an assault rifle and shot up the pizza place. He’s now serving a four year sentence. Ward, who lost to John McCain in the primary two years ago, made news when she called on McCain to quit after his cancer diagnosis, and nominated herself to Gov. Doug Ducey as his replacement. He gave her an emphatic no. She also suggested on Saturday that McCain’s family had announced he had stopped taking his brain cancer medication in order to hurt her campaign. McCain died less than 24 hours later. She refused to apologize and blamed the media for reporting it.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has watched his campaign swirl in turmoil. Arpaio is known for his crackdown on illegal immigration, which a judge ruled in 2013 amounted to racial profiling by his department as it routinely stopped Hispanics to check on their immigration status. Arpaio’s agency continued the practice against the judge’s orders. Arpaio then lost the 2016 election and was convicted of contempt of court. But his friend, President Trump, offered him a pardon. No one really knows what prompted the 85 year old former sheriff to jump in the race, especially after he claimed a Mexican Cartel had put a hit out on him. He has also been whining that Ward blocked him on Twitter, because “she can’t handle the truth.” After learning of McCain’s death, Arpaio responded coldly that Cindy McCain should not be appointed to his seat. The lack of empathy from both Arpaio and Ward about McCain is reflective of the nasty division within the Republican Party.
Rep. Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot who represents a Tucson swing district won by Hillary Clinton, once was the the easy choice for the McCain faction of the GOP. Like McCain, she criticized Trump during the presidential election, and has refused to say whether she voted for him. With her military credentials you would think she would be highlighting what she has in common with McCain. But you’d be wrong. McSally has since tacked hard right, boasting of her access to Trump and pulling her support from legislation that would grant citizenship to people brought into the country illegally as children. In addition, her four-Pinocchio’s ads have claimed Ward is soft on terrorism, and that she doesn’t back Trump (a laughable claim also made back at McSally by Ward). McSally could be adopting the “say anything to win the Trump primary” strategy that is really kind of sleazy.
McSally, according to most polls, will win the primary. Most pundits believe Ward and Arpaio are splitting the fringe right-wing votes. But this race has pulled her so far on the Trump train that her fall match up against Rep. Krysten Sinema, who will be well financed and is a credible candidate, is in question. If a blue wave is coming, it could easily reach Arizona and doom McSally.
Standing on the sidelines is the incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative forced out of running for reelection because, like McCain, he dared speak up to Trump. In a state that has produced some political giants – think Hayden, Udall, Babbitt, Rhodes, Goldwater and McCain – this crop seems destined for obscurity.