Arizona Republicans voted on Saturday to censor Cindy McCain and two prominent GOP members who found themselves on cross with former President Donald Trump.
The censures of the widow of Senator John McCain, former Senator Jeff Flake and Governor Doug Ducey are only symbolic. But they show the party’s infantrymen are focused on upholding loyalty to Trump, even in the wake of an election that saw Arizona drift away from its staunchly Republican roots.
CINDY MCCAIN OPEN TO SERVE IN BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
Party activists also re-elected controversial President Kelli Ward, who has been one of Trump’s most staunch supporters and one of the most prolific promoters of his baseless allegations of electoral fraud.
Arizona’s combative GOP focus has delighted most staunch Trump supporters and worried Republican insiders who have seen the party lose ground in the suburbs as the influence of its traditional conservative establishment wanes in favor of Trump. A growing electorate of young Latinos and newcomers bringing their more liberal policies from home has further hurt the GOP.
“Now is the time to choose Republicans. Are we going to be the Conservative Party?” said Kirk Adams, former president of State House and chief of staff to Ducey. “Or is it a party … true to one person?”
It’s a question of Republican identity faced by party officials and activists across the country after Trump’s defeat in 2020, and especially after a crowd of his supporters besieged the U.S. Capitol on the 6th. January.
Nowhere is the issue more acute than Arizona, where the state’s unwavering GOP loyalty to Trump stands out even in a party that has been remade everywhere in the image of the former president.
Ward has relentlessly – but unsuccessfully – taken legal action to overturn the election results. The party has used its social media accounts to urge its supporters to fight and possibly even die to support Trump’s false declarations of victory. Two of the state’s four Republican congressmen are accused of playing a role in organizing the January 6 rally, which turned violent.
After dominating Arizona politics for decades, Republicans now find themselves on their heels in the highest office of state. President Joe Biden narrowly scored a victory here, becoming just the second Democrat in more than five decades to win the state. Back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2020 gave Democrats control of both seats in the U.S. Senate for the first time in nearly 70 years.
Ward, a physician and former state lawmaker who lost two Republican primaries for the US Senate, beat three challengers to win a second term.
In a brief interview, Ward acknowledged “the disappointment at the top of the ticket,” but said she and many other Republicans still questioned the results showing the victories of Biden and Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. Judges dismissed eight lawsuits challenging the results of the Arizona election.
Ward highlighted the GOP’s successes on the ballot, noting that Republicans have defied expectations in local races.
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Ward said she was a “Trump Republican” who “will always put America first, who believes in faith, family and freedom.” The way forward for the GOP, she said, is to keep Trump’s 74 million voters engaged.
“Yeah, I’ll be radical on these things because these are the things that keep this country great,” Ward said. “The people who are complaining are the ones who put us in this place where we are in Arizona, the people who have been mamby pamby, lie down and allow the Democrats to walk everywhere.”