Dyspeptic old coot John McCain is running for his sixth Senate term at an age when many people would have long retired. It is a testament to both McCain’s pathological narcissism as well as the aphrodisiac of power that at the tender age of 79 – he would be an octogenarian when sworn in – that old blood and guts is still unwilling to loosen his hold on the political process. While there is more than a hint of voter dissatisfaction with McCain in his home state of Arizona – the state GOP actually censured him in 2014- he enjoys loads of free media coverage as well as the gratitude of an establishment that likes the work that the Gang of Eight member and globe-trotting defense industry pimp is doing for them.
This year however may be different given the rising tide of anti-establishment sentiment that has vaulted outsider Donald Trump to the runaway GOP front-runner. The Hill laments Senator McCain’s plight in the story “McCain faces toughest reelection of his career”:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is facing what may be the toughest reelection of his Senate career in an unpredictable presidential year, when many voters are angry with Washington.
Early polls show McCain tied with his Democratic challenger, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), at around 40 percent despite having nearly 100-percent name recognition in the state he has represented in either the Senate or House since 1983.
“The basic problem for John McCain is the same kind of thing that faces a lot of incumbents right now. He’s been there a long time. People are leery of Washington. They don’t like Washington,” said former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe, who served 18 years alongside McCain in Arizona’s congressional delegation.
“This is a very tough challenge, probably the toughest race that he’s faced since he was first elected,” Kolbe added.
McCain’s path to victory is complicated by the likelihood the GOP ticket will be headed by Donald Trump, who has an overwhelmingly negative rating among Hispanic voters, a powerful and growing electoral bloc in Arizona.
Trump has scheduled three events in Arizona Saturday with an eye on the winner-take-all presidential primary Tuesday. He will campaign with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose get-tough approach to illegal immigration has made him a national lightning rod.
Hundreds of Latino activists plan to protest Trump’s events.
If Trump, the Republican front-runner, clinches the nomination his effect on GOP candidates down ballot is hard to predict but many party strategists aren’t optimistic.
“I don’t see how Donald Trump helps any incumbent Republicans. I think he’s a drag on the ticket,” Kolbe said.
While it’s too early to tell just how serious a threat his Democratic opponent will pose, McCain’s taking it seriously. He plans to work around the state over the March recess to shore up his relations with potential voters.
Notably, he will skip the Trump rallies in Phoenix, Fountain Hills and Tucson.
“There’s still a little bit of animosity between him and the base,” said Adam Deguire, a GOP strategist and former chief of staff to Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.). “That’s just lasting from his career in the Senate. There’s a lot of angst right now mostly because the environment of the electorate is just very angry.
“The unfortunate part for Sen. McCain is that it’s not just the past history he has with the base that’s going to affect him but the current mood of the electorate is going to trend away from anyone who is an incumbent, anyone who is a current Washington figure,” he added.
McCain is another of those losers who just won’t go away just like Mitt Romney who insists on inserting himself into the 2016 presidential race despite his not having to do the hard work of campaigning like the other seventeen candidates did. He has tremendous clout within the establishment and despite the strong showing by his Democratic party opponent it looks like the codger is pretty much a lock for another term. Ironically it just may be Donald Trump – a man who he loathes – whose presence in the race may just seal the deal with a massive turnout likely in Arizona due to the billionaire’s no bullshit stance on illegal immigration. McCain however is the strongest argument for term limits that exists today.