John McCain survives primary challenge to face Ann Kirkpatrick

From left, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Hopi Tribe Chairman Herman Honanie. Photo from Sen. McCain / Facebook

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a former two-time chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, survived his Republican primary challenge on Tuesday and will face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona) in the November general election.

McCain easily defeated Kelli Ward by more than 60,000 votes, according to the Arizona Secretary of State. But tallies in counties with large Native populations underscore the problems his re-election campaign has faced in recent weeks.

In Apache County, for example, McCain won by just 75 votes, based on results from Wednesday morning. Native Americans represent 73.5 percent of the population in the county, the largest proportion in the state.

Over in neighboring Navajo County, where Native Americans represent 45.2 percent of the population, Ward actually won by 369 votes, according to the results. She ran on a #RetireMcCain platform and cited the long-time lawmaker's age and his tepid support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as reasons to oust him.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona). Photo from Facebook

Kirkpatrick ran unopposed in The Democratic primary but managed to garner more than 283,600 votes, according to the results. McCain has over 250,000 votes in his race.

Still, turnout on primary day was low, Mark Trahant reported, so the numbers don't necessarily indicate how the November vote will go.

McCain remains well-respected among elected tribal leaders in Arizona, many of whom rely on him for assistance in high-profile legislative and political matters. But his stature among tribal citizens in general has suffered due to his support for the controversial Resolution Copper that would be located on sacred Apache land.

His focus on controversial aspects of the tribal gaming industry hasn't earned him fans either. In the past, he has criticized "reservation shopping," and he is currently supporting a bill that would prevent the Tohono O'odham Nation from using its trust lands for gaming even though the tribe has won numerous battles in court.

Kirkpatrick, who was born and raised on the Fort Apache Reservation, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, has always relied on Native voters to send her to Congress. But she too supports the Resolution Copper mine and is co-sponsoring the anti-Tohono O'odham Nation bill.

Polls compiled by RealClearPolitics show McCain ahead of Kirkpatrick, who has repeatedly tried to tie her rival to Trump, who is extremely unpopular among women and racial and ethnic minority voters. Trump, though, remains very popular among Republicans in the state.

Native Americans represent 5.3 percent of the population in Arizona, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read More on the Story:
John McCain defeats Kelli Ward in Republican Senate primary (The Arizona Republic 8/31)
Marco Rubio and John McCain Win Primaries in Florida and Arizona (The New York Times 8/31)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Mark Trahant: Native candidates face voters in Arizona primary (08/26)
Navajo Nation sues Environmental Protection Agency for mine spill (08/17)
Cronkite News: Sen. McCain signs onto bill to stop export of tribal property (07/11)
Cronkite News: Senate committee takes on tribal water issues (06/30)
Sen. McCain in tough re-election fight over ties to Donald Trump (06/07)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (04/28)
Cronkite News: McCain bill diverts Indian school funds from BIE (03/22)
Mine on sacred Apache site in Arizona remains a hot political issue (03/11)
Ann Kirkpatrick: Fix reservation roads to help Indian students (11/09)
Navajo Nation hails movement on controversial Indian energy bill (10/12)
Julian Brave NoiseCat: Sen. John McCain sells out on sacred sites (09/28)
Mark Trahant: The time is now for an Indian candidate in Arizona (09/08)
Steven Newcomb: Sen. McCain to blame for shady land swap (08/18)
Sen. McCain deemed responsible for land swap at sacred Oak Flat (07/02)
Bill repeals land swap for mine on sacred Apache site in Arizona (06/19)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race (05/27)
Sen. McCain denies being influenced by tribal casino lobbyists (5/15)
Sen. McCain calls on NFL team owner to address racist mascot (05/02)
Sen. McCain won't ask football team owner to drop racist name (10/23)
Keith Harper faces hostile Sen. McCain at nomination hearing (09/25)
Sen. McCain amused with Elizabeth Warren's Indian claim (09/18)
John McCain/Jon Kyl: An endless fight over tribal water rights (08/13)
Trending in News
More Headlines