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John McCain will not seek reflection: Arizona dodges a bullet

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Image courtesy of Derek Bridges under CC BY 2.0.

Sources close to Senator John McCain, speaking on condition of anonymity, have signaled over the weekend that he will not seek reelection as Arizona’s senior elected official in the next election cycle, 2004. Various factors were cited, including health, dwindling popularity amongst the state’s GOP voters, and lack of cash-on-hand in his reelection war chest. Mr. McCain suffers from recurrent melanoma, and has undergone several surgeries since his failed year-2000 Presidential candidacy, for treatment and removal of the virulent form of skin cancer.

It is not known when Mr. McCain plans to make a formal announcement.

McCain succeeded in raising $4,450,544 in 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but his fundraising efforts have ground nearly to a halt in 2001-2002, with only $304,301 having been generated in the current cycle. Directly, CRP records yield Mr. McCain’s fiscal condition:

1997-2002 Total Receipts: $4,781,619
1997-2002 Total Spent: $4,891,961
Cash on Hand: $4,421
Date of last report: March 31, 2002
First elected 1986
Next election 2004

Fundraising by Cycle:
2002: $304,301
2000:
$26,774
1998:
$4,450,544

Source of Funds:
Individual contributions
$3,148,358 (65.8%)
PAC contributions
$1,168,419(24.4%)
Candidate self-financing
$0
Other
$464,842(9.7%)

PAC Contribution Breakdown:
Business
$1,454,692 (95.5%)
Labor
$69,000 (4.5%)
Ideological/Single Issue
$0

Quality of Disclosure:
Full Disclosure
$15,371,287 (78.4%)
Incomplete
$251,275 (1.3%)
No Disclosure
$3,993,388 (20.4%)

RollCall.com confirmed CRP’s report, stating: “In the last half of 2001, McCain’s Straight Talk America political action committee took in $233,410 in contributions, about $1 million less than it had the previous six months. He also pared the previously lavish spending of Straight Talk, dropping a top political adviser from its payroll and registering $425,644 in expenses – less than half of what it spent over the previous six months.

As of Jan. 1, there was $2,015 in the McCain for Senate bank account.” (Paul Kane, RollCall.com, 2/07/02)

McCain’s top political strategist, John Weaver, recently tendered his formal resignation from the Republican party, and has announced that he will work, in the future, only for Democrats.

McCain has enjoyed substantial popularity in recent years–garnering 66% of the Arizona vote in year-1998 Senate elections; but his 24-month dalliance with left-wing Democrats has taken a toll on his ratings. The American Conservative Union assessed Mr. McCain at a 68% “conservative” ratings, year-2001, while his state’s counterpart, Jon Kyl, earned a perfect 100% rating for the second consecutive year. From a 96% as a freshman Congressman, 1982, to his current 68%, McCain’s slide to the left is the most dramatic in recorded political history.

The erstwhile “maverick Republican Senator” has co-sponsored legislation since year-2000 with Massachussets Senator Ted Kennedy on “HMO reform”; with Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman on “closing gun-show loopholes”; and with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold on the notorious “Campaign Finance Reform” initiative. A two-year survey of conservative news discussion boards, including EtherZone.com, FreeRepublic.com, Lucianne.com, FreeConservatives.com, NewsMax.com, show McCain having lost nearly all of his “grassroots” support. He has, as well, lost the support of Arizona GOP stalwart and former state party chairman Jack Londen and socialite fundraiser Georgette Mossbacher, the ex-wife of former George Bush Treasury Secretary Robert Mossbacher.

As recently as June 4, Mr. Londen spoke to Human Events writer John Gizzi, as to the potential of “primarying” Mr. McCain, or rendering him subject to a fierce GOP primary opposition election which, given the mood of Arizona’s GOP electorate and the fact that Democrats and Independents cannot vote in Republican party primary elections, he would likely lose:

“The tax-cut vote was tragic and I can’t imagine how John McCain can call himself a Republican anymore,” Londen told Human Events. “He always called himself a `Reagan Republican.’ Well, it was Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981 that took the rate on the top wage-earner down to 28%. Collections and revenue then went up. And our senator said he would have voted `yes’ on the Bush tax cut if the rate on the highest incomes was 36% instead of 35% the President wanted? Come on!

Abandoning ship on McCain’s reelection bid is also longtime McCain staffer and stalwart Grant Woods, a former Arizona state Attorney General. Mr. Woods spoke on-record recently as to the combined factors which would spell probable doom for a McCain Senate reelection bid. Those factors were, not surprisingly, opposition to President Bush’s tax-rebate measure; support for a tobacco tax; the favoring of a “Patients’ Bill of Rights”, and support for restricting 2nd amendment rights via the “gun-show loophole” argument. Mr. Woods labeled McCain’s positions on each of these issues: “a series of new and unusual stands.”

A McCain retirement from the Senate in 2004 will open the floodgates of Senate hopesful. Former Congressman Matt Salmon is engaged presently in an expensive and difficult race for the state’s Governorship; longtime Congressman Bob Stump will retire at the end of this term, and in his mid-70s is unlikely to run for the seat; Congressmen Jeff Flake, Steve Shadegg and J.D. Hayworth all are popular figures amongst the GOP’s grassroots, with American Conservative Union ratings consistently in the mid-90th percentile. A formal announcement of retirement from McCain will be a national news event (old news for Ether Zone readers who were first to know here), but will also issue a sigh of relief from weary Arizona Republicans, who believed John McCain’s claims in 1981, that he would be a “Barry Goldwater Republican,” but who have known for many years that such was only a campaign promise.

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