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State Press guide to Election Day: What Arizona voters should know about the U.S. Senate race

A look at the contested race between U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and U.S. Sen. John McCain

Arizona Senator John McCain listens to questions from the audience at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.
Arizona Senator John McCain listens to questions from the audience at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.

This week, The State Press will tackle the local political candidates and ballot measures that Arizona residents will vote upon on Election Day, Nov. 8. Stay up to date with political guides and how-to's throughout the rest of the election season.

With Nov. 8 just a couple of days away, it is important for voters to look past political labels and focus on the issues that face the state.

U.S. Senate candidates Ann Kirkpatrick and John McCain have both organized campaigns in Arizona — with McCain holding a sizable lead in the most recent polls

Issues regarding immigration, healthcare and federal oversight have starkly divided both candidates along party lines. During a speech, John McCain said he'll work to block any U.S. Supreme Court justice nominated by Hillary Clinton, while Ann Kirkpatrick told McCain she'd stay loyal to her party's nominee. 

Mark Ramirez, a professor at the School of Politics and Global Studies at ASU, said both candidates have the ability to make an immediate difference in the state among their election.

“Both candidates have the ability to change the political direction in the state," Ramirez said. "Immigration is an issue that must be resolved and both candidates must have the ability to work past party lines to get this issue resolved."

Sen. John McCain

John McCain is currently seeking his sixth term in office as a senator representing Arizona, and recent polls have McCain ahead of his opponent. 

Prior to his career in the Senate, McCain served two terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Although the race has largely been characterized by an adherence to party lines, McCain had an on-again-off-again relationship with his party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, which ultimately led to McCain withdrawing his endorsement.


During his time in office, McCain has proposed several immigration reform bills that would address illegal immigration. 

In May of 2006, he voted in favor of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act. This bill allowed guest workers the opportunity to apply for citizenship after five years of working in the U.S. and would increase funding for border patrol agencies in order to reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country.

In September 2016, McCain addressed a letter to the U.S Customs and Border Protection regarding that lack of security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ramirez said McCain is fairly moderate when it comes to immigration.

"McCain has been a popular political figure for years by crossing party lines and being known as a 'Maverick' in Congress," Ramirez said. "Conflicting ideologies between him and his political party has left room for an opposing candidate."


McCain has repeatedly run on a platform of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. His campaign said in a statement that 38 states are facing a 25 percent increase in healthcare premiums.

"We must repeal and replace it with real reform that encourages competition, decreases these skyrocketing premiums and puts patients first," McCain said in the statement. 

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

Ann Kirkpatrick is a three-term Democratic congresswoman from Flagstaff, Arizona. She currently serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Ramirez said Kirkpatrick can help overcome the gridlock in the Senate by helping nominate a new U.S Supreme Court justice. 

"McCain has repeatedly expressed that he will not support any U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee by the Democratic party," Ramirez said. "Kirkpatrick could help decide whether Supreme Court of the United States is largely Republican or Democrat."


With Arizona sharing a border with Mexico, Kirkpatrick has been in favor for comprehensive immigration reform. She has fought for keeping families together and creating a path for a more streamlined path to U.S. citizenship, which was backed by her support for the Deferred Action Plan for Parents of Americans — an executive action by President Barack Obama in November of 2014.

In response to 4-4 split Supreme Court decision in "United States v. Texas," which could repeal the executive action passed by President Obama, Kirkpatrick released a statement on the court's decision and how she believed it could negatively affect the country.

“I'm deeply disappointed in this deadlocked ruling, which will have a harmful ripple effect on thousands of Arizona families" Kirkpatrick said in the statement.


Although Kirkpatrick's stance on healthcare is considerably more liberal than McCain's, she has said the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, even if it isn't perfect.

"We certainly know that more people in Arizona now have healthcare," Kirkpatrick said in a statement. "We don't want to go back to the days when people couldn't get health care because of pre-existing conditions. I've always said it needs to be fixed. And this is now six years. We need to come together in a bipartisan manner and do things to fix it."

Reach the reporter at or follow @jmdelga3 on Twitter.

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