>> Until recently, Arizona was home to two of President Trump's most prominent Republican critics. Now Senator John McCain is getting a hero's funeral and Senator Jeff Flake is retiring. And this desert state is shaping up as a prime political battleground. I'm Andy Sullivan at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, where McCain will lie in state on Wednesday.
There are now two open Senate seats in Arizona. One will be filled by voters. Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday pick their candidates for the November election. The other seat will be filled by the governor in the coming weeks, but the same dynamic is playing out in both situations.
Republican voters want their politicians to be firmly in Trump's corner, and that could put the party's long-time dominance at risk in this rapidly changing state. McCain's replacement may not share his independent streak. Republican voters like Dannell Cook saying they are frustrated that McCain broke with the party on immigration, healthcare, and other issues.
>> I mean, I'm sorry that he passed.>> Mm-hm.>> But it was time for him to retire.>> Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward, keeping up her criticism of McCain even after his death.>> So I think that this party is moving away from the establishment elitism that we've seen under the rule of Senator McCain and the people who have supported him, back towards what it should be, which is a representative republic.
>> Like McCain, Flake has tangled repeatedly with Trump.>> If I have been critical, it is because I believe it is my obligation to do so.>> But all three Republicans competing to replace him are saying they'd work closely with the president. Ward, Representative Martha McSally and former County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who received a criminal pardon from Trump last year.
Trump not endorsing any of the candidates, but praising all three. The winner expected to face Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the November congressional elections. Arizona has been a solidly Republican state for decades, but that may be changing. A growing Hispanic population and liberal leaning younger voters are making the state increasingly competitive.
A recent poll finds all three Republicans Senators trailing the Democrat. Republicans here are lined up solidly behind Trump but the state as a whole may not be.