Arizona Republicans censure Gov. Doug Ducey and Cindy McCain

Jan 23, 2021, 6:16 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2021, 3:00 pm
(AP photos)...
(AP photos)
(AP photos)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Republican Party voted Saturday to censure a few of its most successful figures, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Cindy McCain — the widow of longtime Sen. John McCain — and former Sen. Jeff Flake.

The party also reelected Kelli Ward as the party’s chair, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump who was a promoter of the theories of election fraud and filed several lawsuits that judges tossed out for lack of evidence.

Ducey, who was elected governor in 2014 and won reelection in 2018, was targeted for his restrictions on individuals and businesses in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. While not mentioned, Ducey also had a high-profile break with Trump when he certified Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

“These resolutions are of no consequence whatsoever and the people behind them have lost whatever little moral authority they may have once had,” said Sara Mueller, Ducey’s political director.

Although McCain didn’t change her party affiliation, she endorsed Biden during last year’s election after Trump verbally attacked her husband for years.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump said of John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

McCain was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and was captured, beaten and held prisoner for more than five years.

Cindy McCain appeared in a political ad for the Democratic president saying Biden is what the country needed.

“Now more than ever we need a president who will put service before self, a president who will lead with courage and compassion, not ego,” McCain said in the ad.

John McCain, who served in office for over three decades until his death in 2018, was also censured by the Republican Party in 2014 for what they saw as an insufficiently conservative voting record.

“Maybe (Ward) should be reminded that my husband never lost an Arizona election since his first win in 1982,” McCain said in a statement before the vote.

The late Senator had strained relations with the Republican Party at times due to his willingness to stray from the party on certain issues but he was consistently elected by wide margins.

Flake, meanwhile, was openly critical of Trump for failing to adhere to conservative values and decided not to run for reelection in 2018, joining McCain in endorsing Biden for president in last year’s election.

“If condoning the President’s behavior is required to stay in the Party’s good graces, I’m just fine being on the outs,” Flake wrote on Twitter before the vote.

The Arizona Republican Party now ponders its future after losing the presidential race, just the second time the state went blue for a president in more than five decades, and a second U.S. Senate seat in four years.

Ward, a physician and former state legislator who previously lost two Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate, including once to John McCain, said the way forward is to keep Trump’s 74 million voters engaged.

She acknowledged “disappointment at the top of the ticket” but pointed to GOP success down the ballot, saying the party defied expectations in local races.

Ward narrowly beat Sergio Arrellano, a businessman who was concerned the party was narrowing its message to help the party appeal to the state’s Latino electorate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Republicans censure Gov. Doug Ducey and Cindy McCain