McCain’s Former Primary Rival Wants Him to Resign

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) former primary rival, Kelli Ward (R), urged the ailing senator to step aside after his diagnosis of brain cancer, the Washington Post reports.

Said Ward: “As a Christian, I know there can always be miracles. But the likelihood that John McCain is going to be able to come back to the Senate and be at full force for the people of our state and the people of the United States is low.”

She went on to say that she hoped to be appointed to fill his seat should he leave office.

White House Plays Hardball with Flake

Politico: “The White House has met with at least three actual or prospective primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in recent weeks, a reflection of Donald Trump’s strained relations with the senator and the latest sign of the president’s willingness to play hardball with lawmakers who cross him — even Republican incumbents.”

“Flake, a longtime Trump critic who refused to endorse the president during the 2016 campaign, is one of a handful of undecided Republican votes on the Obamacare repeal effort. He’s also one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018.”

Playbook: “If Trump backs a challenger to Flake, it will be a big, big deal. The White House merely meeting with candidates is certain to raise ire in the Senate Republican Conference. Loyalty is a big deal in the Senate.”

Democrats Launch Early Attacks on Two Senators

“Liberals are already beginning to target Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)) and Dean Heller (R-NV) with attack ads as Democrats look to soften up their only two realistic targets ahead of a difficult 2018 Senate map,” The Hill reports.

“Democrats are starting GOP attacks early in a cycle where they’re mostly playing defense and trying to block Republicans from flipping enough seats to achieve a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority. Republicans are defending just eight seats in 2018, while Democrats are defending 23 seats, plus another two held by independent allies.”

McCain and Feingold Now Riding a Big Money Wave

Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Russ Feingold are now benefiting from the campaign donations they once fought so fiercely against, Politico reports.

“Supporters of Sen. McCain (R-AZ), seeking a sixth term after 30 years in the Senate, have boosted his campaign through a super PAC specifically designed to run ads on his behalf, financed almost entirely by six-figure donations from Wall Street titans and other corporate executives. Feingold, the former Senate Democrat trying to reclaim his old seat in Wisconsin, has been boosted by outside groups financed through ‘dark money’ committees that don’t reveal their donors.”

McCain Faces Tough Primary

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona finds Sen. John McCain leading a multi-candidate primary field with 39%, followed by Kelli Ward at 26%, Alex Meluskey at 4%, Scott McBean at 3%, and Clair Van Steenwyk at 2%.  Another 27% are undecided.

In a head-to-head match up, McCain and Ward are tied at 41%.

Key finding: “Only 35% of GOP voters approve of the job McCain is doing to 50% who disapprove.”

Arizona Independents Not Shut Out of GOP Primaries

“Arizona’s nearly 1.2 million political independents will be able to continue to influence who Republicans nominate for office, at least for the foreseeable future,” the Verde Independent reports.

“The executive committee of the Arizona Republican Party on Saturday rejected a proposal to try to close future primaries and limit participation to the 1.1 million who are officially members of the Grand Old Party. Party spokesman Tim Sifert said committee members concluded it made no sense to try to challenge a 1998 voter-approved measure which paved the way for independents to vote.”