Dr. Kelli Ward is a former Arizona state senator who is running in the primary against John McCain. She is a strong Second Amendment supporter, and a political outsider to Washington, D.C. Her campaign is focusing on a number of issues, among them that it is time for John McCain to leave office, and her contrast with the Senator on the Second Amendment.
John McCain has been a reliable "I support the Second Amendment, but" Senator. He has supported bans on "assault weapons". He supported severe restrictions on gun shows, which would have effectively destroyed the popular gun culture political and networking tool. He supported "universal background checks" (UBC), designed as a step to universal gun registration . He has recently backed off of the UBC issue, as the primary is getting closer. It is a common tactic for politicians to move toward their base for the primary, then away from it for the general election.
Kelli Ward spent about three hours Saturday at a gun show that was being held in Yuma at the Civic Center. She had a table that was manned and handing out literature, and she worked through the attendees. She was warmly received. Second Amendment supporters are one of her strong constituencies. They have not been happy with John McCain. He has been in office for nearly 30 years.
There was a brief attempt to recall John McCain in 2001, just before the jihadist attack on 9/11. The attack ended the recall attempt. The organizers realized that recalling a war hero after the attack would have been futile.
I briefly spoke with Dr. Ward at a meet and greet in Yuma last Friday. She was energetic, enthusiastic, and friendly. These are all great qualities in a candidate. I last saw John McCain close up about two years ago. He was also energetic and mentally sharp. I was impressed that I could not detect any signs of decreased vigor or intellectual capacity. At the time, McCain was mentoring Jeff Flake during Flake's senate race. John McCain will be 80 years old in a couple of months.
The Republican base is not happy with John McCain, so an outsider like Dr. Ward has a chance. As in the presidential primary, there are multiple opponents who oppose McCain, spliting the anti-McCain vote. A PPP poll shows the situation as of May 17th. From publicpolicypolling.com:
McCain is polling at only 39% in the Republican primary field. He's benefiting from having multiple opponents. Kelli Ward is at 26%, Alex Meluskey at 4%, Scott McBean at 3%, and Clair Van Steenwyk at 2%. 27% are undecided. McCain is very strong among moderates, leading Ward 60-10. But among 'somewhat conservative' voters he leads just 34-29, and with 'very conservative' ones he's down 35-28. When you narrow the field down to just a choice between McCain and Ward, it's a tie at 41%. Ward is polling this competitively at this point despite having only 41% name recognition.If Dr. Ward consolidates opposition against McCain, She has a serious chance at getting the nomination. Name recognition is the biggest problem for her at this point. The biggest problem for McCain is also name recognition. His name and policies are all too well known by conservatives and those who are angered at business as usual in Washington.
Donald Trump has changed electoral politics in the United States. It is not clear what will happen in the general election, but Trump coattails could be very effective for Dr. Ward, who shares most of his policy positions. The feud between John McCain and Donald Trump make a coattail effect for him much less likely.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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