Eprof: Arizona Blue?

By Eprof2, a Trail Mix Contributor

Craig asked me last week if Arizona could flip to blue in November. My initial reaction was not likely. But, in this topsy-turvy election of 2016, I guess anything is possible. There isn’t any clear evidence, thus far, that Arizona will go blue in November.

The AZ primary for all offices excluding presidential candidates, which were held in March, takes place on August 30th. All eyes are on the McCain campaign as he seeks reelection for the sixth time to the Senate. He is still well liked in AZ, but he could be vulnerable.

kelliwardMcCain’s Republican opponent at the end of the month is a Tea Party activist, Kelli Ward, who holds a legislative seat from the Lake Havasu area, a rural northwest location far from the two metro areas. However, she is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who won the AZ Republican presidential primary by a huge margin. Her campaign posters are all over the state with her picture with Donald Trump. As almost everyone knows, here and across the country, Donald Trump attacked John McCain as a loser from a POW camp. That garnered a lot of support for McCain here in AZ. Yet, McCain continues to endorse Trump while calling him out for his attacks on the Khans and the Veterans’ Administration, McCain’s favorite government agency.

While folks here keep asking why doesn’t McCain “unendorsed” Trump, I think the following is occurring: McCain is going to continue to endorse Trump until he can defeat Kelli Ward in the primary; thus, not giving up any support from the far right now. After the primary, McCain will be more free to criticize Trump, maybe even “unendorsed” him, to move back to the center and try and take votes away from the presumptive Democratic candidate, Ann Kirkpatrick, a centrist who currently holds the Congressional District One seat. McCain is playing the ultimate political game of seeking votes by changing his positions based on candidates, elections, and the mood of the electorate.

mccainCampThe AZ Congressional delegation is split 5-4 in favor of Republicans. This year, depending on the Trump phenomenon, only the CD1, where I live, is in danger of losing a seat to the Republican Party, making the next delegation, 6-3. The Democrats do not have a strong, well-known candidate to replace Ann Kirkpatrick as she seeks McCain’s Senate seat. CD1 is the largest district in the state and runs from the Utah border to the Mexican border with mostly small towns. Flagstaff and parts of Casa Grande and Tucson (small parts) are inside the badly gerrymandered district. Trump and former governor, Jan Brewer, are supporting the Pinal County Sheriff, Paul Babeu, who has always been considered Joe Arpaio junior, as he continues to berate Mexicans and the border fence is his symbol of law and order. He has been elected twice to the Sheriff’s office as a Republican.

The state legislature is solidly Republican, as are all the state-wide offices, including the governor. The state treasurer, Jeff DeWitt, just became Trump’s national campaign finance director, without giving up his state position. He says he can do both jobs, i.e, he wants to keep his state salary while working for Trump. Even though many have seen this as a conflict of interest, he remains in office. The Republican state legislature, most of whom support Trump, are not going to raise impeachment or other charges against him.

Flipping to blue. Not likely under normal election circumstances. What say you, Jace?

Note from Craig: Thanks to Eprof for this analysis. We welcome contributors with thoughts about important races in their regions. Simply email me for details on how to post: help@craigcrawford.com