Newsman: Arizona Republicans voted Saturday to censure Cindy McCain and two prominent GOP members who have found themselves crosswise with former President Donald Trump.
Party activists also reelected controversial Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who has been one of Trump’s most unflinching supporters and among the most prolific promoters of his baseless allegations of election fraud.
The censures of Sen. John McCain’s widow, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Gov. Doug Ducey are merely symbolic. But they show the party’s foot soldiers are focused on enforcing loyalty to Trump, even in the wake of an election that saw Arizona inch away from its staunchly Republican roots.
The Arizona GOP’s combative focus has delighted Trump’s loyalists and worried Republican insiders who have watched the party lose ground in the suburbs as the influence of its traditional conservative establishment has faded in favor of Trump.
“This is a time for choosing for Republicans. Are we going to be the conservative party?” said Kirk Adams, a former state House speaker and chief of staff to Ducey. “Or is this a party … that’s loyal to a single person?”
Cindy McCain endorsed Biden and became a powerful surrogate for the Democrat following years of attacks by Trump on her husband. After the vote, she wrote on Twitter that “it is a high honor to be included in a group of Arizonans who have served our state and our nation so well.”
“I’ll wear this as a badge of honor,” she wrote.
John McCain was censured by the state GOP in 2014 and went on to comfortably win a Republican primary over Ward and a general election. The self-described maverick, known best for his willingness to buck his party, had strained relations with the state party for much of his career but was consistently reelected by wide margins.