Arizona old-guard Republicans advance in primary

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PHOENIX — In a year of political outsiders, two of the most prominent and longest-serving Arizona Republicans bucked the trend and easily beat back primary challenges.

Sen. John McCain defeated a populist challenger on the right by more than 10 percentage points. And longtime lawman Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of metro Phoenix who became famous for immigration crackdowns and forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, garnered 66 percent of the vote while trouncing three opponents on Tuesday.

McCain, 80, and Arpaio, 84, will face tough challenges from Democrats in November.

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McCain was not only dogged by a primary opponent who called him a failed, career politician unfit to serve, he also was inundated with questions about GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump had attacked many issues dear to the Arizona senator, including the family of a fallen soldier, NATO and even McCain’s own military service and time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. His insurgent, outsider message has constantly been at odds with McCain, the party’s 2008 White House nominee.

Yet McCain stuck by his support for Trump, at times seemingly through gritted teeth. He repeatedly avoided calling Trump by name, instead saying he’ll support his party’s nominee.

Trump is set to roll out his much-anticipated immigration plan Wednesday in McCain’s backyard in Phoenix, with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey making his first appearance with the GOP nominee. Ducey, like McCain, has said he supports his party’s nominee but avoided Trump in his previous four campaign stops in Arizona.

There’s no word if McCain will appear at the event.

Arpaio won the Republican primary despite a cloud of legal troubles hanging over him. He trounced his three opponents after raising $11.3 million — a staggering sum for a sheriff’s race. He will face retired Phoenix police Officer Paul Penzone, the same opponent who took on Arpaio in 2012.

Arpaio also plans to appear with Trump Wednesday, as he has throughout the billionaire businessman’s campaign.

All nine U.S. House seats in the state were also on the primary ballot, though just a few are tight races.