Arizona Republicans are poised to censure three of their own party’s most high-profile members in the state: Gov. Doug Ducey, former Senator Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of former Senator John McCain.
Though largely symbolic, the political scolding that is expected during a meeting of the state G.O.P. on Saturday underscores a widening rift in Arizona between party officials who have made clear that their loyalty lies with former President Trump and those in the party who refused to support him or his effort to overturn the election results in Arizona, which President Biden won.
Both Mr. Flake and Ms. McCain endorsed Mr. Biden leading up to the November election. Though Mr. Ducey continually made it clear that he backed Mr. Trump, he drew ire from some Republicans by defending the state’s election process, rather than support efforts to challenge the November results in court.
Mr. McCain himself was censured by the state party in 2015 over his voting record, which some Republican officials there perceived as not sufficiently conservative .
The vote to censure comes two-and-a-half months after Mr. Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Arizona in more than two decades, and only the second Democrat in 50 years. For decades, Republicans controlled both U.S. Senate seats, but lost the first in 2018 and the second last year. Mr. Ducey, who was easily re-elected in 2018, is the most prominent Republican still in office who has won statewide.
Ms. McCain, Mr. Flake and Mr. Ducey each attended Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday and Ms. McCain served on the president’s transition advisory board. She has responded to the threat of censure with a sense of both annoyance and amusement, joking that she was in “good company” with her husband.
“I think I’m going to make T-shirts for everyone and wear them,” she said during an appearance on “The View,” which is co-hosted by her daughter Meghan. And in an interview with The Arizona Republic, Ms. McCain blasted the state party chair, Kelli Ward, for pushing for such a measure.
“As Chairman of the AZGOP she managed to turn Arizona blue in November for the first time since 1996,” she said. “Maybe she should be reminded that my husband never lost an Arizona election since his first win in 1982.”
Mr. Flake wrote on Twitter that he, too, was unconcerned with the censure.
“If condoning the president’s behavior is required to stay in the party’s good graces, I’m just fine being on the outs,” he wrote.
Gov. Ducey, in an interview on Friday, said that he has given “little to no time to think” about the vote.
“I think we’re better and stronger as a party when we’re adding people rather than the alternative,” he said.
None of the three Republicans plan to formally object to the censure, which is all-but-certain to pass.
Many moderate Republican officials have dismissed the censure as a distraction, saying it will largely serve to alienate other moderates in a state where independent voters make up nearly a third of the electorate.