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Meet The Lady Who Just Might Kick Grumpypants John McCain Out Of The Senate
My friends, my friends, my friends...FIVE AND A HALF YEARS, ALAN
Welcome to an exciting new series from Yr Wonkette, in which we will spend the 30-plus remaining weekends between now Election Day looking at almost all of the 34 races for seats in what is sometimes called "The World's Greatest Deliberative Body," at least on days when Ted Cruz isn't stinking up the place. Pretty much every week, we'll spotlight one of the upcoming Senate races somewhere across Our Great Land, although some weeks may be twofers, for states where an incumbent won't face a serious challenge. Like for instance Idaho, where Sen. Mike Crapo (Nickname: "Slightly more visible than Jim Risch") will easily beat whoever the Democrats nominate, because Idaho's idea of a two-party system is Conservative Republicans and Flaming Wingnut Batshit Crazy Republicans (to be represented in the R primary by a perennial candidate who changed his name to "Pro Life" and campaigns with bloody fetus signs. Strangely he has not caught on, even here). Hmm. Actually, we believe that's enough to check "Idaho" off the list right there.
[contextly_sidebar id="lMnQXisJqDiCINQpgtFeeNDR3oERJa8G"]So let's get this new feature rolling with a look at the Senate race from the Great State of Arizona. John " Walnuts! " McCain is seeking a sixth term, even though he'll be turning 80 in August. While he has a primary challenger, Lake Havasu City tea partier Kelli Ward (who thoughtfully arranged a 2014 public meeting on chemtrails, although she is not a chemtrails enthusiast herself), McCain is expected to beat her easily. But not so his Democratic challenger, Ann Kirkpatrick, who's giving up her seat in the U.S. Congress to run against McCain. And by golly, she might just pull it off.
Kirkpatrick made Big Media waves last week when she released an ad emphasizing McCain's repeated statements that as a good Republican, he will support the party's nominee for president, even if it's Donald Goddamned Trump. McCain's party loyalty earned him this ad from Kirkpatrick's campaign, apparently the first attempt this year to use Trump against a Republican candidate in a down-ticket race:
It's a position that journalists just can't seem to stop asking McCain about; on Monday, an NPR reporter checked one more time, just to be sure. “I said I support the nominee,” McCain said. The reporter pressed on, asking if that included Donald Trump, and McCain predictably went to GrumpCon 5: big irritated sigh, followed by "Hello? I said 'I. Support. The. Nomi. Nee.'” Teacher says whenever John McCain snarls like that, a J-school student gets their diploma.
[contextly_sidebar id="fpIbfoMvWusYRwlqvwn8RYxe8XFcu2un"]Not surprisingly, a McCain spokesman called the ad a “cheap, pathetic display,” although we're actually fairly impressed by the production values, and it does seem entirely kosher for Kirkpatrick to point out the irony of McCain expressing loyalty to a probable nominee who mocked him as "not a hero." (Haha, remember how we naïvely thought that would be a campaign ender?)
So who is this Ann Kirkpatrick person who thinks she can take on an Elder Statesman like John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and is, in case you've forgotten, a War Hero? As Snipy said last year when Kirkpatrick announced her candidacy,
Kirkpatrick is a native Arizonan, a small business owner, a wearer of cowgirl boots, a three-term congresslady, and, as The Hill notes, she managed to keep her seat in a red district in the 2014 midterms, when pretty much every single Democrat in America was defeated. So, you know, not exactly a lightweight. Also too, she likes Obamacare a whole real lot, and at a time when Arizona Republicans are trying like hell to get rid of Obamacare for their state, to extra fuck the poors, because Republicans, one might think the candidate who likes Obamacare and wants to preserve and protect it might be more appealing to voters than that temper tantrum throwing bastard from the party that wants to kill your healthcare, because screw you, you shoulda married yourself a rich beer heiress if you wanted to afford stuff like not dying. (One would probably be right about that too!)
Here's Kirkpatrick's announcement video, complete with boots, folksiness and grit:
After Kirkpatrick announced last year, the Arizona Republic notes, the professional political world took notice right away:
The influential nonpartisan newsletter Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, which handicaps U.S. House and U.S. Senate races, immediately adjusted its ratings of Arizona's Senate race from "Republican Favored" to "Lean Republican," a more competitive designation.
"Kirkpatrick gives Democrats a credible contender, someone that they could invest in if McCain shows signs of weakness," said Nathan Gonzales, a political analyst who edits and publishes the report.
And despite his seniority and money -- McCain's most recent finance report showed his campaign has a comfortable $5.1 million on hand, while Kirkpatrick only reported resources of $850,000 -- a Rocky Mountain Poll in February placed McCain only a single point ahead of Kirkpatrick, within the statistical margin of error and down from a lead of six points in November 2015. Kirkpatrick is polling strongly with Latinos, as well as with rural voters and young people. And roughly one in five Republicans plan to support her.
At this early point, there are still lots of undecideds, and both candidates have to win their primaries in August first. Kirkpatrick is the leading Democrat, and the same poll shows Kelli Ward chemtrailing far behind McCain with only 11 percent support, while almost half of Arizona Republicans support McCain. If you're Ann Kirkpatrick, that's great news, since even more Republicans might be willing to jump ship. After 30 years in the Senate, candidates don't come much more Washington Insider-y than John McCain.
On policy, Kirkpatrick looks like a typical red-state Democrat: Liberal enough on issues like choice and economic equality to pick up an endorsement from EMILY's List, but also careful to tell the Arizona Republic in January that she thinks "we should be doing more" to defeat ISIS. But even there, she's less warmonger-y than McCain:
"His solution to the world's problems is to send in the troops, and I want Congress to debate," Kirkpatrick said of McCain. "Look, we have to destroy ISIS, but if we're going to send troops in, Congress has to have that debate and the American people's voices have to be heard on that."
She also supports the Iran nuclear deal, as long as we "hold Iran accountable" -- she knows she's playing to Arizona -- while John McCain is a big fan of bombing almost anyone handy, especially Syria, which we're bombing plenty, but obviously need to be bombing more. Get ready for Team McCain to continue slouching toward November with war-monkey stuff like this January statement from McCain spokesperson Lorna Romero:
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick has demonstrated her obedience to the Democrat party machine and has ignored the needs of Arizonans by supporting disastrous policies such as "Obamacare," the Iran nuclear deal, and reckless government spending ... It is amazing that she continues to vocally support the Iran deal even after their test launch of ballistic missiles and the recent capture of 10 U.S. Navy sailors.
Yup, remember how those horrible Iranians held American Sailors for a shocking less than 24 hours and then released them, thanks in part to the fact that they very much would not like to have sanctions slapped on them again?
By November, Republicans may still be crying bitter tears about how we let Iran humiliate us, but if Trump is the nominee, McCain's strange willingness to support will be a fine lever for Kirkpatrick to keep pushing at. After Mitt Romney called Trump a Major Doodyhead last week, McCain issued a statement saying he shared Romney's concerns about Trump. And then his office also confirmed that McCain will indeed support the Republican nominee. Kirkpatrick's website delightedly quoted Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts on the disconnect:
So, Sen. McCain, you share Romney’s concerns, but you’d support a phony and a fraud if he also happens to be the Republican nominee? A guy whom you say makes "uninformed and indeed dangerous statements?"
As it turns out, yes.
Kirkpatrick's efforts to tie McCain to Trump also got some love from the Rachel Maddow Show this week:
We're liking the cut of Ann Kirkpatrick's jib, and her cowgirl boots, too. John McCain has been snarling around the Senate and the Sunday shows for entirely too long, and if you'd like to throw a few dollars Kirkpatrick's way, her campaign site is right here.