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McCain and Kirkpatrick Prepare to Throwdown

McCain and Kirkpatrick Prepare to Throwdown
September 01
11:46 2016

The race is on!

No real surprise on Arizona primary day as Republican John McCain and Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick won their respective races. That sets the stage for a November showdown for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Ann Kirkpatrick

Ann Kirkpatrick

McCain, the incumbent, beat back a challenge from his party’s far right, besting Kelli Ward by eight percentage points. Ward tried to make an issue out of McCain’s age, suggesting the former prisoner of war would die in office.

McCain turned 80 on August 29.

Kirkpatrick – who is giving up her seat in the House of Representatives to challenge McCain – ran unopposed for the Democratic nod.

Even though she had no primary challenger Kirkpatrick, who currently represents Congressional District-1, garnered more overall votes than McCain managed in his race.

Is that a hint of how November may turn out?

And what role will Native Americans play in the outcome?

Kirkpatrick, for her part, was born and raised on the Fort Apache Reservation.

McCain generally has good relations with the leaders of the Arizona tribes, who often seek his support on issues of importance to them.

However, in her district, Kirkpatrick has strong support from the rank-and-file tribal members.

To see this trend, look no further than Apache County, which was the highest percentage of Native American voters in the U.S. McCain won that county by a slender 75 votes. In Navajo County, which also has a large number of native voters,

McCain lost to Ward by 369 votes.

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain

McCain has lost some native support for his support for mining on land the Apaches consider sacred and fervent opposition to a Tohono O’odham casino in Phoenix.

However those issues may not harm McCain too much since Kirkpatrick has taken the same stance on both issues.

Of course there’s also the Trump factor.

If presidential contender Donald Trump fares badly at the top of the GOP ticket would that costs McCain much-needed votes?

While Trump appears popular with Arizona’s conservative voters, his numbers drop dramatically in communities of color.

Kirkpatrick will undoubtedly try to link McCain and Trump. If successful would Kirkpatrick’s gambit give her a large majority of Native American and Hispanic votes?

Trump has spent the year insulting large segments of the population, including women, people with disabilities, African Americans and Latinos, and McCain has not distanced himself from those incendiary comments.

Trump even made disparaging remarks about the parents of a soldier killed in action – and insulted McCain’s military status.

McCain said the challenge from Ward was the political fight of his life, but that may have just been hyperbole.

His showdown with Kirkpatrick will pit two political titans in a race to watch.

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