Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough
January 26th, 2014
05:48 PM ET
9 years ago

Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough

(CNN) – The Arizona Republican Party censured longtime Sen. John McCain for what it called his “long and terrible” record of voting with liberal Democrats.

The voice vote Saturday came from the floor at the party’s meeting in Tempe. While the resolution does not have an impact on McCain’s work in Congress, the party pledges it would not support, campaign for or endorse the Republican senator.

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“Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our party’s values on his own. That has not happened,” reads the resolution, which was provided to CNN. (Read the full text below.)

Tim Sifert, communications director for the Arizona GOP, said 704 of the 1,658 committee members were present for the meeting.

The resolution originally came from Timothy Schwartz, the party leader for a legislative district in the Phoenix area that has a lot of Democrats. By getting 20% of the members present to sign a petition supporting his resolution, he was able to get a vote on the floor.

The resolution refers to McCain’s vote for the Senate comprehensive immigration bill last year, which included a pathway to citizenship. McCain, and his fellow senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, were two out of 14 Republican senators who joined with Democrats to support the legislation last summer.

While the state party’s resolution doesn’t mention specific legislation, it also refers to his procedural vote to move ahead with an amendment that would expand background checks to gun purchases at gun shows and online. McCain was one of four senators who bucked the GOP and sided with most Democrats on this issue.

“This record has been disastrous and harmful to Arizona and the United States,” the resolution states. It further accuses him of being “eerily silent against Liberals yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party.”

“The Arizona Republican leadership censures Senator McCain for his continued disservice to our State and Nation,” the resolution states.

The party, however, voted in favor of a resolution that supports conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as those “who stand with them.”

McCain’s office did not comment on the vote.

First elected in 1986, McCain has long been known as centrist in the Senate. And while he’s worked with Democrats, McCain is one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s national security policies. He has especially been vocal about the handling of the deadly terrorist attack against the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya–an issue frequently raised by conservatives.

Former Sen. Jon Kyl, another Republican from Arizona, labeled the effort to reprimand McCain “wacky.”

“I’ve gone to dozens of these meetings and every now and then some wacky resolution gets passed,” Kyl told The Arizona Republic. “But most people realize it does not represent the majority of the vast numbers of Republicans.”

Kyl said McCain, who’s in his fifth term, has been re-elected over the years despite opposition by many GOP activists.

“Do these guys ever get elected? It’s John McCain who gets elected,” Kyl told the newspaper.

In the past year, McCain has indeed reached across the aisle on legislation. He was part of the bipartisan group of 14 senators that crafted several proposals to end the government shutdown, much to the chagrin of far-right conservatives who only wanted to fund the government if the spending bill included major changes to Obamacare.

As he gathered on the Senate floor in October to celebrate the end of the shutdown with his 13 cohorts, he gave no indication that he planned to stop working with some Democrats.

"This group of 14 people (is) committed to staying together to address other issues of importance," McCain said. "This isn't the last crisis that we're going to go through. But I think we have the framework for the kind of bipartisanship that the American people need and want."

Also that day, McCain chided the bickering and fighting that was taking place in the GOP.

"There's a fight in our party, and that has to be waged and it's been there before," he said on CNN. But he was quick to remind his colleagues of former President Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

"Don't speak ill of your fellow Republicans," he said. "We've done way too much of that."

McCain, 77, hasn’t ruled out making a bid for a sixth term in 2016. He told NBC’s Jay Leno that he’s still “looking very seriously" at another campaign.

The Arizona Republican easily held his seat in the 2010 election against Democrat challenger Rodney Glassman, but he faced a more challenging contest leading up to that in the GOP primary against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Hayworth accused McCain of not being a true conservative, driving McCain to move to the right on some issues. He was also forced to spend $20 million in the primary campaign.

Sifert, who has been active in Arizona politics for more than 20 years, said Hayworth’s challenge, as well as a primary challenge in McCain’s 2004 re-election bid, are examples of some of the resistance the senator has seen from in his own party at home.

Asked why he still keeps winning re-election, Sifert credited McCain with being a “very effective speaker” who’s “good at persuading crowds of people.”

“People admire him personally for his military service” he said. “He just has a presence when he’s in campaign mode that has proved very tough to overcome.”

Full text of the resolution:

As leaders in the Republican Party, we are obligated to fully support our Party, platform, and its candidates. Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our Party’s values on his own. That has not happened. So with sadness and humility we rise and declare:

Whereas Senator McCain has amassed 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, assaults on the Constitution and 2nd amendment; and

Whereas this record has been disastrous and harmful to Arizona and the United States; and

Whereas Senator McCain has campaigned as a conservative and made promises during his re-election campaigns, such as the needed and welcomed promise to secure our borders and finish the border fence, only to quickly flip-flop on those promises; and

Whereas McCain has abandoned our values and has been eerily silent against Liberals, yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party, therefore

BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Arizona Republican leadership censures Senator McCain for his continued disservice to our State and Nation, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until he consistently champions our Party’s Platform, we, the Republican leadership in Arizona will no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.

Filed under: Arizona • John McCain
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. scootfl78

    Liberal = open-minded and generous (its the definition – look it up)

    McCain is the same individual who voted several times to not have a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and who voted several times to keep the poor and elderly from having adequate and affordable health care.

    How exactly does that make him open-minded and generous? The Arizona GOP apparently doesn't care to exist in the same reality as the rest of the world (or at least the those in the world that don't watch Fox News).

    January 26, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. John the Historian

    The revolutionary Republicans eating their own children. The death of the GOP is near.

    January 26, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. So Very Tired

    Well, there goes the last of my respect for the GOP.

    Bipartisan efforts? Working with people who *gasp* have different opinions than you do? Oh, clearly that's a horrible thing that calls for public reprimand.

    Get a clue, GOP: Americans want their political parties to work together. Not a national screaming match with "if we don't win then nobody will" government-closing ultimatums. The Democrats disappoint me, but the Republicans outright disgust me.

    January 26, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. MaryM

    That's right GOP, move ever further to the right and you rwjns will never win White House

    January 26, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. dsrobins

    The tea baggers and ultra-right wing Republicans present at this meeting didn't even have a quorum present. These extremists saw an opportunity to try to embarrass Senator mcCain, but ended up only embarrassing themselves. Once again they proved that all of them are totally outside the pale of political acceptability and decency in America today. They will pay a heavy price at the polls in 2014 and an even heavier one in 2016. It is highly unlikely that the Republican party as we know it will survive 2016. They have only the choice or reforming by returning to decency or becoming America's sole fascist party. It's their choice.

    January 26, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. bspurloc

    Essentially what u have is one side leaning so far Right it tricks the left to move to the middle. after a decade they declare JUST KIDDING and the Left is now Right.

    January 26, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. Bob

    So 42% of the committee speaks for the whole Arizona GOP? Of that number what was the voting results of those present? Don't even need a majority to hold a meeting just get those who will vote with you when you don't like someone anymore.

    January 26, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    Well that only goes to show that if they don't back McCain..a Democrat will be elected..:)

    January 26, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  9. Sentinel

    I'm sorry. Chided for doing the job of governing? These GOPers really need to dig their heads out of the sand and get a clue. Sen. McCain and I may not agree on all things, but the man speaks his mind and does his job. I'll forgive a lot for that.

    January 26, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. Big_D

    Another Republican kicked to the Curb by the small tent party. They want a pure party based on the demands of the Koch brothers.

    January 26, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  11. polite centrist

    704 of the 1,658 committee members were present for the meeting. Less than half. So they didn't have a quorum.

    January 26, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. OrmondGeorge

    WAY back in the day, when George W. Bush Swiftboated Senator McCain in the Presidential primaries, I thought he should have gone Independent and run against Republicans in the general election... I could have voted for him then, maybe even campaigned for him.
    In subsequent runs he wanted to win so badly that he abandoned his values... And he's been sucking up to those TEA Party "Patriots" ever since.
    This is a time for him to take back his values and run as an independent in the General election. I'm betting that he would KEEP his seat no matter who Democrats or TEAPublicans run.

    January 26, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. Barry

    McCain is a thinker. He has been fighting the radical GOP non thinkers for years. I voted for him in 2008. I think he would have made a great President were in not for the misguide party that he is unfortunately associated with. With any other VP candidate than Palin, he would have won. John keep fighting for a logical agenda. You are the man!!!!!!!

    January 26, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. G.R.R.

    We need to force the 2 large parties to debate with other parties as well. Basically, we need the neo-cons/tea* to get together and allow republicans to start their own party.

    January 26, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  15. Arin

    If the GOP rebukes him, he must be doing something right....

    January 26, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Skeptacular

    Go Arizona, go! Definitely promote someone FAR more reactionary! I support your efforts!

    January 26, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. If horses had gods .. their gods would be horses

    It's the fact that he HAS a liberal side that makes him a great candidate! Sick and tired of only having polar opposites for candidates!

    January 26, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Olaf Big

    Now, now my fellow Neanderthals... I wonder why GOP has elephant as its logo. Elephant is an intelligent, beautiful animal with long memory. I propose a resolution to change Arizona GOP logo to a dinosaur, which would be much more appropriate – no brains, no future.

    January 26, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Dave

    Average Republican voters have been forced so far right by Fox News specifically, they no longer share the values that the vast majority of Americans have. McCain, too liberal? No, Tea Party is too insane.

    January 26, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    McCain needs to step down. As soon as he betrayed his fellow retirees, by proposing we be denied the medical coverage we were guaranteed, for life (which we do pay for btw like an HMO), he betrayed our nation. McCain is
    a traitor!

    January 26, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. stormsun

    As someone who lived a long time in Arizona, and admired Barry Goldwater (remember him? Father of Modern Conservatism, and all that?) I am pained to read accounts of how extremist and utterly bizarre the Republican party in Arizona has become. I am embarrassed for my former state, and for my former party. Like Barry Goldwater, himself, before he died, I have disavowed the travesty that the GOP in Arizona (and across the country) has become. I don't know who these clowns are, who put together the resolution condemning John McCain, but for them to attempt, pitifully, to discredit the man or his reputation is contemptible. As a veteran, let me say that none of them are fit to wipe dust from John McCain's shoes. He will be remembered as an American long after...heck, I've already forgotten their insignificant names. Unfortunately, it is pathetic extremists like these jokers who have destroyed the GOP. That is the reason the party is rapidly becoming about as relevant as fossilized dinosaur dung.

    January 26, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. reply

    Just what we need is a moderate republican being chastised by his home state party. They will probably end up with an ultra-right winger as the state's GOP nominee for the seat that ends up losing the seat (and possible control of the Senate) to some moderate democrat. The party has been hijacked and very shortly I'm going to end up as a independent. What happened to Reagan's Big Tent?

    January 26, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. Deej

    Now and then he votes with the opposition. Compromise = evil as far as the GOP is concerned. He's on the GOP side whenever mud needs to be slung at liberals, so they should just be grateful for that and stow it. Whole darned state is acting like the Tea Party these days.

    January 26, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |

    There you have it. Opposition, us vs them, is more important that doing the right thing.

    January 26, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. Ed

    Oh geez, the GOP dog and pony show is starting already??

    January 26, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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