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Senator McCain's team cleanses local government of hostile conservatives

By Andrew V. Pestano
Senator McCain's team cleanses local government of hostile conservatives
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is likely to run for a sixth term as senator in 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain's team is allegedly reshaping the local Republican government in Arizona by getting rid of hostile conservatives as he prepares for a likely 2016 reelection campaign.

McCain's goal is to seat friendly precinct committeemen to local offices, replacing conservative instigators and decreasing Tea Party influence, according to a report published by Politico.

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Precinct committeemen determine which candidates are promoted in an election year, what political issues are featured and how GOP state and local funds are spent.

Before Aug. 26, the majority of the 3,925 precinct slots in Arizona were filled by people McCain's team considered opponents, Politico reports. After the team's strategy was implemented, about 40 percent of those offices, 1,531, are now considered friendly to McCain.

The strategy comes after McCain was rebuked by his own party because of Tea Party agitators, citing a "disastrous" record in the censure delivered nearly a year ago. Some Tea Party members and conservatives see McCain as too moderate.

A super PAC was formed after the censure in support of McCain named "Arizona Grassroots Action PAC" and raised close to $300,000.

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One victim of the strategy is former GOP legislative district chairman Timothy Schwartz, the man who wrote the censure condemning McCain.

Schwartz laid blame to the senator for being ousted.

"John McCain has prominence and money and influence and because of that he thinks he can ramrod us," Schwartz said.

The 78-year-old senator is not directly involved in the strategy, his aides said, but is pleased with the results.

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