State Watch

Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey

The Arizona Republican Party, in an anticipated move, approved resolutions Saturday censuring Gov. Doug Ducey (R), former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain (R). 

The public rebukes, which are largely symbolic, came after both Cindy McCain and Flake endorsed President Biden in the 2020 election. The party cited Ducey's coronavirus restrictions as the reason behind his censure. 

The Arizona Republic reported that the resolution to condemn Ducey argued that his emergency safety rules "restrict personal liberties and force compliance to unconstitutional edicts." 

Meanwhile, the party, at its statewide meeting, argued Saturday that McCain "has supported globalist policies and candidates" and "condemned [former] President Trump for his criticism of her husband and erroneously placed behaviors over actual presidential results."

The state GOP said Flake has "condemned the Republican Party, rejected populism, and rejected the interests of the American people over globalist interests," adding that he should join the Democratic Party. 

When contacted by The Hill, Flake repeated a statement he issued on Twitter earlier this month when the censure resolutions were first announced: "If condoning the president's behavior is required to stay in the Party's good graces, I'm just fine being on the outs."

Following the party's vote Sunday, Flake tweeted a photo of himself posing with McCain and Ducey at Biden's inauguration this week, along with a caption that read, "Good company." 

Biden won Arizona in the 2020 election over Trump, the first time a Democrat has won the state in more than 20 years. Biden carried Maricopa County, the state's most populous area, over the Republican incumbent in a win that helped him clinch victory. 

McCain and members of her family have been critical of Trump in the past, and the late senator caught the ire of the former president when he was serving in the Senate.

McCain honored her late husband's friendship with Biden during a video that aired during the Democratic National Convention in August. Her husband and the president's son Beau Biden died from the same form of brain cancer. 

Flake, who retired from the Senate in 2019, cut a political ad for Biden before the election stating that to hold the high office, "character matters." 

Sara Mueller, Ducey's political director, said in a statement to The Hill that she believed the censures would carry little weight. 

"These resolutions are of no consequence whatsoever, and the people behind them have lost whatever little moral authority they may have once had," she said. 

The McCain Institute did not immediately respond to The Hill's requests for comment. 

However, shortly after the Arizona GOP's resolution was approved, McCain tweeted that she wears the censure as a "badge of honor."

"It is a high honor to be included in a group of Arizonans who have served our state and our nation so well...and who, like my late husband John, have been censured by the AZGOP. I'll wear this as a badge of honor," she said. 

 

The Arizona GOP also did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for additional comment on the votes. 

The censures came toward the end of the Arizona GOP's seven-hour meeting, at which the party also voted to reelect Kelli Ward for another two-year term as the organization's chairwoman after she played a recorded phone call of Trump endorsing her, according to The New York Times.

The Arizona GOP, following the 2020 election, repeated claims of voter fraud in the state, though they were later disputed by local courts, and Ward and other Arizona Republicans have increasingly aligned themselves with Trump. 

Updated 10:12 p.m.

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