GOP group wants state censuring of Sen. McCain

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By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais

PHOENIX (AP) -- A group of Arizona Republicans said Friday they are seeking to pass a resolution censuring U.S. Sen. John McCain for a voting record they say is more aligned with liberal Democrats.

The group plans to introduce the resolution at the Arizona Republican Party's state meeting Saturday in Tempe.

According to the resolution, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate has campaigned as a conservative but lent his support to issues such as immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship and funding Obama Care.

Arizona Republican Party spokesman Tim Sifert says before it can be voted on, the resolution needs signatures from at least 20 percent of state committee members to head to the floor. Several county-level party leaders have passed their own censures in recent months.

Timothy Schwartz, the Legislative District 30 Republican chairman who helped write the resolution, says he is confident there will be enough signatures.

The resolution is about making sure those who are unhappy with him, "they're not without a voice," Schwartz said.

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, declined to comment.

Retired Arizona State University political science professor Bruce Merrill, who continues to do a statewide monthly survey of Arizona voters, said he doubts there will be any significant voter fallout for McCain if the censure passes.

"The research I've done on the Republicans in Arizona shows it's a minority of the Republican party that takes this position," Merrill said. "To censure someone like McCain who is so well-respected in Arizona is just nonsense."

McCain has been dogged by conservatives objecting to his views on immigration and campaign finance, among other issues, since his days running for Congress in 1982. Republican activists were also turned off by his moderate stances in the 2000 presidential race.

His war-hero status as a former POW in Vietnam and his political reputation as a maverick have endeared him to voters. According to Merrill, between 60 and 65 percent of people in the state support McCain's position on an earned path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally.

Still, the group hopes to present a challenge when McCain runs for re-election.

The senator announced in October he was considering running for a sixth term in 2016. McCain, who will turn 80 in 2016, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and won his Senate seat in 1986.

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