John McCain coasts to easy Arizona GOP primary victory

PHOENIX, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Arizona Sen. John McCain coasted to an easy victory on Tuesday in his Republican primary over his conservative challenger Kelli Ward.

McCain, 80, the four-term senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee easily beat Ward, a physician and former state senator who resigned her seat to run against McCain. Her main argument against McCain was that he was too old to continue in the job.

McCain, a mainstay of Arizona politics for more than three decades, has had a somewhat rocky relationship with his own party base over the years due to his support of campaign finance reform and illegal immigration. On both issues, McCain has supported compromise legislation with Democrats that many conservatives oppose.

McCain will now perhaps the toughest general election of his career in Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a moderate Democrat who represents the state’s sprawling First District, which encompasses much of the rural eastern portion of the state. Kirkpatrick represents a growing move to the left as Arizona’s Latino population grows.

Kirkpatrick did not have a challenger in Tuesday’s primary.

Perhaps the most-watched primary of the night, however, involves a local sheriff’s race. Rarely does such a local contest generate national attention, unless the sheriff is Joe Arpaio, the lightning rod lawman from Maricopa County who has garnered national attention for his tough stance on illegal immigration. Arpaio faces a trio of challengers in the Republican primary in his quest for a seventh term.

The remainder of the congressional primaries being decided in Arizona are:

— In the state’s First District, Paul Babeu won the Republican vote.

— In the state’s Second District, Matt Heinz won the Democratic vote.

— In the state’s Fifth District, Christine Jones won the Republican vote.

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