Arizona senator’s death overshadows US Senate primary

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The death of U.S. Senator John McCain on Saturday eclipsed Arizona’s Senate primary election on Tuesday, when Republican and Democratic voters will nominate candidates to replace his seat neighbor, incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Flake.

Although primary election day is Tuesday, most people have already voted due to Arizona’s early voting system.

McCain’s death could bring Senate candidates, as well as Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is seeking re-election, with other candidates, to reassess their campaign in the home stretch and in the early days of the general election race.

Reassess campaign strategies

U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema, the likely Democratic nominee, said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic she would stop campaigning. In the Democratic race, Sinema faces a primary opponent, progressive activist and lawyer Deedra Abboud.

“To honor Senator John McCain’s life of service and dedication to our country, we will leave the campaign trail and dedicate Wednesday and Thursday to honoring and giving back to the state we all love,” Sinema’s statement said. .

“Serving our country with Senator McCain has been the greatest honor of my life. He has stood for freedom, honor and truth. It is our responsibility to live up to his legacy of integrity, character and putting country before party, service to self.”

Ducey’s campaign manager said Sunday that the governor will not attend any campaign events until Sept. 2, when McCain will be laid to rest.

Additionally, he said, the state’s Republican Party and the governor postponed united GOP events that had previously been scheduled after the election.

On Sunday evening, the campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia said he would not attend “public campaign events” on Wednesday or Thursday, except for the Democratic Party unity event scheduled for Thursday. evening. McCain’s legacy will be honored at this event.

For months, the GOP Senate primary race has been a three-way tussle between former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Fountain Hills, U.S. Representative Martha McSally of Tucson and former Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Hawaii City.

With the news Friday that McCain had ended his cancer treatment, followed by his death the next day, the candidates’ relationship with McCain, a fierce Republican critic of Trump with distant to mediocre relationships with Senate candidates, made the subject of careful scrutiny.

Expected media blackout

Voting ends on Tuesday, but past elections suggest more than 80% of the votes in the race have already been cast.

“It’s going to create a media blackout for these candidates for a while,” said Chuck Coughlin, who moved to Arizona in 1986 to work as chief financial officer for McCain’s first Senate campaign. “It will definitely be the only thing talked about in Arizona until Labor Day,” when McCain will be laid to rest at the US Naval Academy Cemetery in Maryland.

CONTINUED: Here’s what you need to know before you head to the polls on Election Day

For the candidates, Coughlin said: “It could become a narrative of what it means to be a citizen, an American – not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American. What are our responsibilities to our fellow human beings? Because that John bragged about these deeply, and animated much of his career on them.”

McSally, for example, had hoped for Friday coverage of a visit to Luke Air Force Base by Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force. The visit included McSally, Sinema and U.S. Representative Debbie Lesko, a Republican, who all expect tough races in November.

Sinema’s health-focused ads also continued to air on Sunday, in English and Spanish.

McSally’s attack ads against her presumptive Democratic rival, Sinema, continued to air on Sunday. They contrasted sharply with the tone of Sunday shows honoring McCain’s career.

Guests praised McCain for his service, his willingness to work across the aisle and even help mend relations with Vietnam, the country that tortured him in wartime.

Meanwhile, McSally continued to unload her first broadsides on Sinema, whom she accused of “disparaging our service” after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She underlines the message with a photo of Sinema in a pink tutu taken during a demonstration against the war in Iraq in 2003.

McSally’s spokesperson, Torunn Sinclair, initially declined to comment on how McCain’s death might affect the campaign.

She later wrote in a text message statement that McSally’s operation will not campaign on Monday and will not schedule any campaign events on Wednesday or Thursday to honor McCain. McSally has election night scheduled for Tuesday.

“Martha joins all Americans in honoring Senator McCain and plans to attend memorial events for Senator McCain,” the statement read.

McCain’s final days cut the coverage of the candidates, leaving each of them to grab attention in the final stretch of the campaign.

Problem with McCain

Throughout the primary election, every Republican Senate candidate tried to position themselves to voters as the most worthy ally of President Donald Trump, who has long rivaled McCain. And each of the candidates has taken their own shots at the late senator, each in their own way.

McSally conspicuously did not invoke McCain’s name earlier this month as he attended the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act with Trump. The law is called the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

Congress deliberately sped the bill through and named it after McCain as a sign of his dedication to American troops. McSally’s refusal to say McCain’s name during her numerous media appearances touting the signing’s presence drew condemnation from McCain’s daughter, Meghan.

“McSally’s failure to mention my father’s name when discussing the bill named in his honor is shameful (just like with Trump) – I had so much more hope for the next generation of leaders in my native country”.

Ward, who unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his seat in 2016, has frequently lambasted him in his stump speeches.

She was widely condemned for suggesting in a Facebook post on Saturday morning that a family statement regarding the decision to end medical treatment for the late senator’s cancer was timed to hurt his electoral chances.

The senator died about six hours after her post, which has since been deleted.

In the initial post, Ward wrote, “I think they wanted to have a particular narrative which they hope will be negative for me.”

In a follow-up Facebook comment, Ward wrote that she was praying for McCain “as a hurting man” and that “the media” was responsible to “make something out of nothing.”

On Friday, after McCain’s family announced that medical treatment would end for the senator, Arpaio’s campaign briefly posted a message on social media that McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, had blocked the former sheriff on Twitter. John McCain had a bad relationship with Arpaio, mainly due to their conflicting efforts on immigration reforms.

Chad Willems, a longtime Republican consultant and former campaign manager for Arpaio, said some voters will judge candidates based on how they handled McCain’s death.

“Whether they see this as just an opportunity, or a conspiracy, or whether they’re yearning for a nomination, I think it’s going to be a big, big setback for voters in general,” Willems said Sunday.

“And I think the candidates who try to turn that into politics are going to pay the price.”

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