Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), shown, is reportedly targeting conservative activists within the Arizona Republican Party in advance of an anticipated 2016 reelection bid.
Politico, which broke the story after receiving “detailed” information from “nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends,” additionally reports that the senior senator from Arizona has hired substantial staff to recruit “supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.”
Specifically, the McCain cabal is working to unseat local GOP leaders whom they believe could support true conservatives in 2016. Politico explains the particulars:
Under the byzantine rules of Arizona Republican Party politics, these elected officials, known as precinct committeemen, vote for local party chairmen. The chairmen, in turn, determine how state and local GOP funds are spent, which candidates are promoted in an election year, and which political issues are highlighted — all matters of central concern for McCain heading into 2016, when the threat of a primary looms.
Prior to Aug. 26, when the races for the party offices were held, the vast majority of the 3,925 precinct slots were filled by people McCain’s team considered opponents. Now, after an influx of candidates were recruited by the senator’s allies, around 40 percent of those offices — 1,531 to be exact — will be held by people McCain’s team regards as friendly. They will have the power to vote down hostile Republican chairmen in each of their respective localities.
It is not hard to believe the zeal and ferocity of McCain’s reported rage against the (local tea party) machine. Over the last couple of years, members of that group have accomplished censure of the senator and have published lists of his crimes against the Constitution.
In September 2013 on a blog maintained by the Maricopa County (Arizona) Republican Party, a post was published that read like a digital 95 Theses, enumerating the ways the establishment’s favorite hawk has gone astray.
From his advocacy of the offer of amnesty to illegal aliens to his constant calls for the use of the U.S. military as the world’s police force, McCain’s record is all the ammunition his detractors needed.
The “briefs” posted by the Maricopa GOP ooze with frustration with the senior senator’s haughty attitude. The lead memo on September 7, 2013, for example, calls McCain out for failing to adequately publicize his town hall meetings or to even notify local party leaders.
There Is Lots Of Chatter Regarding The Short Notice The Public Had On Sen John McCain’s sudden, overnight called Town Halls in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott this past week. Even with the short notice, people who became aware and did attend were plenty vocal. Briefs has confirmed reports that ... McCain’s office didn’t bother to notify AZGOP Robert Graham, nor Maricopa County Republican Committee Chairman AJ LaFaro. Now if that isn’t a slap in the face of two top Arizona GOP elected officials. Surprise, surprise — few county, legislative district chairman and precinct committee weren’t aware in time to go either.... You know those folks who are expected to whip up the troops to walk the streets and get out the vote to get him elected to his esteemed office. Such arrogance is wearing very thin with Grassroots party works.
Later in the blog, links are provided to stories reporting on flack McCain is taking for his pro-intervention position with regard to Syria.
One of the links points to an article containing data that prove senators who approved a strike on Syria “got more defense contractor dough.” Topping the list, the site reminds readers, is John McCain, who cashed a defense industry check for about $176,000.
It’s not just the Arizona Republican brass that has had enough of McCain, however. As these links listed on the site indicate, the rank and file is fighting mad, as well.
Also in 2013, it was reported that some of McCain’s colleagues on Capitol Hill were opening the newest front in the battle to restrain or replace the five-term senator.
A story at Breitbart News published at the time claims:
A high-ranking Republican source close to the state’s U.S. congressional delegation told Breitbart News that the state’s Republicans believe McCain is abandoning both conservative and centrist Republicans to support policies that are out of line with the GOP. “There is a growing concern among Arizona Republicans that McCain is increasingly out of touch, and out of step, with conservatives and moderates,” the AZ GOP source claimed. “His constant war mongering, demand for amnesty, praise for Obama and Napolitano, demands for higher spending while attacking conservatives has convinced many he lacks core principles.”
The Breitbart report goes on to say that Arizona’s “entire GOP congressional delegation” — with the exception of freshman Senator Jeff Flake — “stands against McCain.”
As is the case with his Republican cohort in the war drum corps, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Republicans in Arizona consider McCain’s views on amnesty, Syria, drones, the NDAA, the expansion of the surveillance state, etc. to be unforgivable sins against conservatism and worthy of excommunication.
Now, some of those activists who spearheaded the campaign to expose McCain’s manifold offenses are being singled out by the “maverick’s” machine. Again, from Politico:
“There’s been a huge organizational effort that I’ve never seen before,” said Gordon James, an Arizona public relations executive and longtime McCain confidant. “A lot of the party folks who were hostile to John McCain have been marginalized, and that’s a good thing.”
The biggest foe to fall: Timothy Schwartz, the man who authored the McCain censure resolution. Earlier this month, Schwartz was ousted from his post as a GOP legislative district chairman by a group of newly elected precinct committeemen who voted in favor of a McCain-aligned candidate. Another outspoken McCain detractor, A.J. LaFaro, recently announced that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection to the Maricopa County Republican chairmanship, a tacit recognition that he didn’t have enough support to win.
In an interview, Schwartz blamed his ouster squarely on McCain, whom he said had singled him out. “It’s very clear what’s going on,” he said. “Look, John McCain has prominence and money and influence and because of that he thinks he can ramrod us.”
LaFaro accused the senator of engaging in the equivalent of “ethnic cleansing.” “For John McCain to have been so vindictive in his actions … it’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s been all-out war.”
It is undeniable that McCain counts, with a bulging campaign coffer and with the powerful infrastructure that is a perquisite of being one of the establishment’s favorites.
As 2016 draws nearer, it will be worth noting if McCain hears the cannon and turns and marches back toward the Constitution and traditional conservative values, hoping that voters will forgive his prodigality and forget his choosing of Obama over his oath of office.
Timothy Schwartz doesn’t think so. He is quoted in the Politico piece saying, “They think it’s over, but the fat lady hasn’t sung.”
Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton.