alien & sedition.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
  McCain Among the Copperheads

If you want to find people who really dislike a particular presidential candidate, go to the candidate's home state. The New York Times takes a trip to Arizona today, and finds raging antipathy towards John McCain - from the Senator's own party:
The chairman of the local Republican Party here in the most populous county in Arizona has in his possession a bright yellow button with a black line slashed through the name McCain.

“I don’t wear it out very often,” said the chairman, Lyle Tuttle of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, in a slightly sheepish coda to a 20-minute vituperation about the state’s senior senator, served up from his living room chair.


Meanwhile, disgusted with Mr. McCain’s position on proposed changes to immigration laws (he advocates legalization that would not require illegal immigrants to leave the country), with what some see as wavering on the issue of gay marriage (he lent his name to a state ballot initiative to ban it but did not support a constitutional amendment), and with the campaign finance act that bears his name, some Arizona Republicans are making trouble for Mr. McCain.

They have elected local party leaders whom he opposes, criticized his policy positions and thrown early support to other potential primary candidates — all in the hope of tripping up Mr. McCain on his own doorstep.

“They can make trouble for him,” said Bruce D. Merrill, an Arizona State University political scientist and polling expert. “It is too early in terms of voting to tell, but it certainly could potentially affect people’s decision to give him money.”
The article cites a poll showing that only 54 percent of Arizona's Republican voters say they'd support McCain in the primary. However, as McCain's own camp points out, independents are also eligible to vote in the GOP primary, and that's a group McCain should win easily. Still, it's bad publicity for a candidate seeking conservative support in other states.

The Times provides a couple more interesting background notes:
In some ways, Mr. McCain’s troubles here reflect a fracas within the state party that has pit its more centrist members, long the stronghold of its leadership, against its most hard-line factions who call Mr. McCain “elitist.”

For several years, various critics have complained that he has been aloof, that he has a brittle temper and that he has made missteps on key conservative issues.
So on the one hand, the issue relates to what seems to be an increasingly common split within various state Republican parties: between hardline and moderate factions, each independently organized (at least to a degree), and neither willing to back down from confrontation with the other. On the other hand, the dispute further illustrates a persistent problem for John McCain: on a personal level, people just don't like him very much.

Of course, the larger political lesson here is that no place is a greater liability for a candidate than his own home state.

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