Here's why Trumpism is turning once-red Arizona increasingly blue: Conservative website

Here's why Trumpism is turning once-red Arizona increasingly blue: Conservative website
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

For those who know a lot about the history of Arizona politics, the thought that the southwestern state could end up with two Democratic U.S. senators in 2021 is downright shocking. Arizona already has one Democratic senator: Kyrsten Sinema, and poll after poll has shown that Democrat Mark Kelly (a former astronaut) stands a very good chance of unseating incumbent GOP Sen. Martha McSally in November and taking over the seat that was held for many years by John McCain and, before that, Barry Goldwater. Moreover, polls show that former Vice President Joe Biden is quite competitive in Arizona. And all of this, Shay Khatiri asserts on the conservative website The Bulwark, demonstrates that Trumpism is not serving the GOP well in the state.


Arizona is now a swing state. But for decades, it was very much a red state and was synonymous with the term “Goldwater Republican.” Although Goldwater suffered a landslide defeat when he ran against President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964’s presidential election, he was quite popular among Arizona voters — and McCain proudly described himself as a “Goldwater Republican” or a “Goldwater conservative.” Liberals and progressives, for all their policy disagreements with Goldwater, developed a certain respect for the Arizona senator when he lambasted the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Christian right in the 1980s and declared that far-right evangelicals were terrible for the GOP and the conservative movement.

Although McSally lost to Sinema in the 2018 midterms, she ended up in the U.S. Senate anyway in 2019 when she was appointed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. Trumpism, according to Khatiri, has been McSally’s downfall.

“McSally — who, in the 2018 midterms, had lost a close Senate race to Kyrsten Sinema — seemed in some respects on track to be a decent senator,” Khatiri writes. “By the end of her first year, she had sponsored more bills than any other freshman senator. But…. instead of acting responsibly as a senator on behalf of her state, she has decided that her primary responsibility is to be loyal to Donald Trump.”

In the past, Republicans carried Arizona in one presidential election after another. But the Democratic National Committee is feeling optimistic about Biden’s chances in the state.

“Arizona was a mini-battleground state in 2016, when Trump ultimately took its eleven Electoral College votes,” Khatiri explains. “In 2018, its Senate race went blue: Sinema’s narrow win over McSally. If Biden wins the state in November, it will be only the second time Arizona voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1948. And, if McSally loses, the formerly solid-red state will have two Democratic senators for the first time since 1953, as well as a majority-Democratic delegation in the House of Representatives.”

Khatiri goes on to cite some reasons why Democrats have been gaining ground in Arizona in recent years, and a big part of the problem is the Arizona GOP’s enthusiasm for extremists — for example, Kelli Ward (who now heads the Arizona GOP) has “won praise from white nationalists.” And McSally, Khatiri stresses, has hurt her chances of winning reelection by going full Trumpian.

McSally, Khatiri writes, “has been making a name for herself as an anti-immigration, anti-media, MAGA senator. She called CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju a ‘liberal hack’ this past January because he dared to ask her, ‘should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?’ She proceeded to send out fundraising e-mails crowing about this triumphant attack against CNN. She received her reward in the form of a shout-out from the Trump campaign’s Twitter account. She has dropped her previous support for a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers in favor of a much stricter policy.”

If Trump loses to Biden in Arizona in November and Kelly defeats McSally, Khatiri asserts, it will be painfully obvious that Arizona voters don’t like the GOP’s Trumpian direction.

“The party once known for immigrant-friendly statesmen is now associated with racism, xenophobia, lunacy, scandal and corruption,” Khatiri writes. “In a state that is becoming browner, Republicans are increasingly known for kicking Hispanics. But is the state’s GOP capable of heeding a clear signal? Can it learn from electoral defeat and turn back toward more reasonable, moderate policies and candidates? Don’t bet on it.”

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