Arizona Republicans sent a clear message over the weekend that the GOP’s bitter divisions over former President Donald Trump aren’t going away just because he has moved out of the White House. The Arizona Republican Party censured Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain, essentially for failing to support Trump. Republicans also voted to censure GOP Gov. Doug Ducey and former Senator Jeff Flake. The move is mostly symbolic, but along with the reelection of Kelli Ward, a staunch Trump supporter, to lead the Arizona Republican Party it demonstrated that the former president continues to have a strong following among members of the GOP base.
McCain, who endorsed President Joe Biden, was censured because she has “supported globalist policies and candidates” and “condemned President Trump for his criticism of her husband and erroneously placed behaviors over actual presidential results.” McCain quickly took to Twitter to say that the censure was “a badge of honor.” Her husband had been censured by the Arizona GOP in 2015 over his voting record that was criticized for not being conservative enough.
The censure of Flake had much of the same reasoning. Flake, who also endorsed Biden, “condemned the Republican Party, rejected populism, and rejected the interests of the American people over globalist interests.”* Flake also said he wasn’t bothered by the action. “If condoning President Trump’s behavior is required to stay in the AZGOP’s good graces, I’m just fine being on the outs,” he tweeted. The reasoning to censure Ducey was slightly different. The state’s Republican Party censured Ducey for the rules he imposed to try to stem the spread of COVID-19 that “restrict personal liberties and force compliance to unconstitutional edicts.” Ducey’s allies were booed at the meeting but later dismissed the importance of the censure. “These resolutions are of no consequence whatsoever, and the people behind them have lost whatever little moral authority they may have once had,” Sara Mueller, Ducey’s political director, said in a statement.
Biden became the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1996, when Bill Clinton won the state.
Correction at 10:50 a.m.: This piece initially misquoted the censure of former Sen. Jeff Flake.