Arizona, MAGA and the Fall of McCainism
Victories by Kari Lake and Blake Masters signal the end of McCainism in Arizona and the GOP.
Last night, Kari Lake and Blake Masters won their respective primaries for Governor and US Senate. Both had become extremely popular with the MAGA base and the Trump wing of the Republican Party. The Arizona primaries were the first serious test of this base since Arizona was carried by Biden in 2020.
The results suggest a Republican base that is excited and ready for November. At one point Kari Lake looked like she may have lost. With more than two-thirds of the vote counted in Arizona’s most populated county (Maricopa) she was trailing by 9 percentage points. Things got so bad at one stage it was rumored the podium from which she was to give her expected victory speech was to be removed from the stage. Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Senator John McCain was clearly excited at Lake’s impending defeat, Tweeting her delight than the “lunatic” was being “crushed”. She was remarkably quiet on Twitter as the results began to shift and Lake pulled off a tremendous victory.
The victory of Lake sets her up for a clash in November with Democrat Katie Hobbs. Lake has promised a style of Governor that has echoes of Ron De Santis, with a strong emphasis on independence from Federal mandates and pushing a strong America First agenda. Meanwhile, Blake Masters will face Democrat Mark Kelly for the US Senate set. Blake Masters won the nomination for US Senate, beating off a challenge from Jim Lamon and Mark Brnovich. Masters is a young man at just 35 years-old, and has a number of dynamic ideas. He has also excited the base and has shown a flair for deflecting attacks by opponents. This will serve him well.
This marks the end of the McCain era in the Arizona Republican Party. The late Senator represented the state for over three decades, and came to symbolize the Washington establishment Republican Party. This was a party that was harder on its own right wing than it was on the Democrats, was relaxed about open borders and felt that China was a friend and partner making a peaceful rise. McCain's disastrous campaign for President, followed by spending much of his remaining time in the Senate praising his "Good friends across the aisle" in the Democrat Party whilst bitterly undermining the Trump Administration's legislative agenda. His infamous thumbs down to Obama Care repeal was the decisive vote. But this wing of the party is no more.
In short, the GOP has nominated two MAGA Republicans for the two highest profile races in November. It will be interesting to see how they fare.