US Senate: John McCain survives bruising election season on both sides

Party dominance in Congress a key factor in policy-making outlook for next president

Capitol Building at night. Photograph: Brian Keith Lorraine/Getty Images

Capitol Building at night. Photograph: Brian Keith Lorraine/Getty Images

 

Senator John McCain has survived one of the most bruising election seasons of his long political career, fending off a challenge from his Democratic rival, Rep Ann Kirkpatrick, to secure a sixth term representing Arizona in Washington.

McCain, (80), weathered a revolt from the right within the Republican Party. And he found himself in an awkward relationship with Donald Trump, who last year mocked 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.“

McCain nonetheless endorsed 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 Trump‘s “demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults”.

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

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

McCain seized on 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 program her “proudest moment“ in Congress and declared her “too liberal for Arizona”.

Republicans have been putting up an unexpectedly tough fight to protect their majority in the US Senate, with several races seen as too close.

Party dominance in Congress will be a crucial determinant of the policy-making outlook for the next president.