Sen. McCain in tough re-election fight over ties to Donald Trump

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) addresses the National Congress of American Indians in a file photo from February 2006. Photo by Indianz.Com

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) could lose his Senate seat over his ties to fellow Republican Donald Trump for president.

Last July, McCain was on the losing end of one of Trump's bitter insults. "I like people who weren’t captured," the real estate mogul said of the decorated military veteran who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

But even though McCain plans to skip the Republican National Convention next month, he is standing by the party's presumptive nominee, who has accused immigrants of being criminals and has called for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. In a state where 22 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic, according to The Hill, that link could prove fatal to a 79-year-old politician who has served five terms in the Senate and two terms in the House.

"He's changed," Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona) told The Associated Press. "He used to be a maverick, he used to be a straight talker, he used to stand for something. And people are just shocked that he's supporting Trump."

Kirkpatrick of course is campaigning for the Senate seat. She told The New York Times that she will make an issue of McCain's support for Trump but also said that wasn't the "only message" she will be delivering to voters as the November election approaches.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, McCain helped secure passage of a slew of pro-tribal bills. But his reputation suffered during his second stint at the gavel due to his intense focus on negative aspects of the tribal gaming industry and the Jack Abramoff scandal, an agenda that was not entirely appreciated in Indian Country.

More recently, McCain has faced criticism for pushing the controversial Resolution Copper land swap through Congress. Foreign developers plan to build a huge mine at Oak Flat, a site held sacred by Apache tribes in Arizona.

Kirkpatrick supports the mine too so there isn't much difference between the two candidates on that issue. And, like McCain, she supports a bill that would prevent the Tohono O'odham Nation from using its trust lands for gaming,

Poll show McCain ahead of Kirkpatrick, according to Real Clear Politics. But he has a low approval rating, according to Public Policy Polling.

Native Americans represent 5.3 percent of Arizona's population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If the race between McCain and Kirkpatrick becomes extremely close as November approaches, their votes could help determine the eventual winner.

Get the Story:
Once a Trump Target, John McCain Now Finds Their Political Fates Intertwined (The New York Times 6/5)
Ten Senate seats most likely to flip in November elections (The Hill 6/6)
McCain seeks sixth term in uncertain terrain (AP 6/6)

An Opinion:
Laurie Roberts: Is John McCain on his way out? (The Arizona Republic 6/6)

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