US elections: Republican John McCain wins re-election to the Senate in Arizona

Senator John McCain (centre) and his wife Cindy (right) greeting supporters after casting their votes at the Mountain View Christian Church polling place on Nov 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Senator John McCain (centre) and his wife Cindy (right) greeting supporters after casting their votes at the Mountain View Christian Church polling place on Nov 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.PHOTO: AFP

PHOENIX (NYTIMES) – Republican Senator John McCain on Tuesday (Nov 8) survived one of the most bruising election seasons of his long political career, fending off a challenge from his Democratic rival, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, to secure a sixth term representing Arizona in Washington.

Mr McCain, 80, weathered a revolt from the right within the Republican Party. And he found himself in an awkward relationship with Mr Donald Trump, who last year mocked Mr McCain’s military service and years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, saying: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr McCain nonetheless endorsed Mr Trump, justifying his decision not as a personal choice but as a matter of respect for his party. 

His support was fleeting. He withdrew it last month, prompted, he said, by Mr Trump’s “demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults”. 

Ms Kirkpatrick, 66, embraced the positions pushed by Mrs Hillary Clinton, banking on support from Latino voters, moderate independent voters and disaffected middle-of-the-road Republicans to propel her to victory.

 

Mr McCain was buoyed by a deep campaign war chest and by help from the Republican establishment. Last week, Mr Mitt Romney, the party’s nominee in 2012, stumped for him in Arizona.

Mr McCain seized on Ms Kirkpatrick’s support of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act as a main point of attack. In ads, his campaign assailed her for calling her vote for the programme her “proudest moment” in Congress and declared her “too liberal for Arizona”.