The Arizona Republicans are ready to blame three of the most prominent members of their own party in the state: Governor Doug Ducey, former Senator Jeff Flake, and Cindy McCain, widow of former Senator John McCain.
Though largely symbolic, the political scolding carried out during a State G.O.P. on Saturday underscores a widening rift in Arizona between party officials who have made it clear their loyalty rests with former President Trump and those in the party who have refused to support him or his efforts to overthrow the Arizona election results , which President Biden won.
Both Mr Flake and Ms. McCain supported Mr Biden in the run-up to the November elections. Though Mr Ducey kept making it clear that he supported Mr Trump, he drew anger from some Republicans by defending the state’s electoral process rather than supporting efforts to challenge the November results in court.
Mr McCain himself was censored by the State party in 2015 because of his voting results, which some Republican officials there felt were not conservative enough.
The criticism vote comes two and a half months after Mr Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than two decades to promote Arizona, and only the second Democrat in 50 years. For decades, Republicans controlled both seats in the U.S. Senate, but lost the first in 2018 and the second last year. Easily re-elected in 2018, Mr Ducey is the most prominent Republican still in office who has won nationwide.
Ms. McCain, Mr. Flake and Mr. Ducey each attended Mr. Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, and Ms. McCain served on the President’s Transitional Advisory Council. She reacted to the threatened criticism with a feeling of anger and amusement and jokes that she is in “good company” with her husband.
“I think I’ll make T-shirts for everyone and wear them,” she said during an appearance on “The View,” which her daughter Meghan co-moderates. And in an interview with the Republic of Arizona, Ms. McCain beat up State Party chairman Kelli Ward for pushing for such a measure.
“As Chair of AZGOP, she managed to turn Arizona blue for the first time since 1996 in November,” she said. “Perhaps she should be reminded that my husband has never lost an election in Arizona since his first victory in 1982.”
Mr. Flake wrote on Twitter that he didn’t care about the criticism either.
“If it is necessary to condone the president’s conduct in order to remain in the party’s good grace, I am fine,” he wrote.
Governor Ducey said in an interview on Friday that he had given “little to no time to think” about the vote.
“I think we are better and stronger as a party if we add people rather than the alternative,” he said.
None of the three Republicans intend to formally object to the criticism, which is all but certain.
Many moderate Republican officials have dismissed the criticism as a distraction, saying it will largely serve to alienate other moderate people in a state where independent voters make up nearly a third of the electorate.