If you follow Arizona politics, you probably know that Senator John McCain made an appearance at the State Meeting of the Arizona Republican Party last Saturday. It was newsworthy because this is the same state party that censured McCain last year.
It was not without its drama – there were a few folks who booed very loudly and a handful who really showed “who is boss” by keeping their backs turned to McCain throughout his speech. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t be seen from the stage because they were way, way in the back corner.
McCain gave a passionate speech about the dangers we face in the world (Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.) and why the current Obama policy is failing to keep us safe.
At one point, someone yelled, “You’re a war mongrel!” Now, I’m guessing he meant “warmonger,” but, alas, either the adrenaline got to him, or he actually didn’t know what he was yelling.
Think about it: in a Republican meeting of State Committeemen (the very definition of “base Republicans”) someone is so out of touch with Republican principles and policy that they accuse a U.S. Senator, who was tortured for five years as a prisoner of war, of being a warmonger. For a second, I thought I was at an Occupy Wall Street rally.
Thankfully, the vast majority of attendees were cheering and applauding Sen. McCain and his speech – thus demonstrating that the critics of McCain were a distinct minority.
To his credit, State Party Chairman, Robert Graham, got up after McCain’s speech and admonished those who had shown complete disrespect. It was a moment of leadership that has defined the kind of Chairman Graham has been: fair-minded, following the rules, and urging unity. It’s no wonder Graham won a landslide re-election as Chairman, garnering nearly 80% of the vote.
Graham’s landslide victory is also a testament to an Arizona Republican Party that is excelling. Graham raised significant money for the 2014 cycle and made the party relevant again. No one can say that Republicans didn’t elect a strong conservative slate of statewide officers and a conservative legislature.
But let’s get back to McCain.
Despite some national groups calling him their number one target, I don’t believe Senator McCain will face a serious challenge – either in the primary or the general election in 2016. Here’s why:
- Obama’s foreign policy will continue to be a complete failure. There will be more terrorist attacks (like what happened in France) and some American lives might even be lost. From his post as the Senate Armed Services Chairman, Senator McCain will have ample opportunity to try to hold the Obama administration accountable for their failed foreign policy.
- Anyone who is thinking about mounting a challenge to McCain remembers what happened to JD Hayworth. It wasn’t pretty.
- 2016 is likely to be framed in the context of a national security election. If there is one thing that unifies the base of the Republican Party it is that we believe the first (and almost only) function of government is to “provide for the common defense.” If McCain is leading that charge, it will be hard for someone to get traction against him.
There are probably other reasons, but for now, a real challenge doesn’t seem to be shaping up.