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State GOP chairman says he’ll back McCain in primary

SAN DIEGO – Immigration, a hot-button issue that has dominated headlines in Arizona and nationally over recent years, is fading from the public consciousness amid economic turmoil, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen said July 30.

“Because of what’s going on with the recession, although (immigration) is still important, it’s not nearly as important as the recession,” Pullen said in an interview at the Republican National Committee’s annual summer meeting. “Cap and trade is now even a higher issue in Arizona than is immigration, as well as health care.”

Pullen’s comments came the day after a non-partisan analysis shows the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has dropped 13.7 percent since the summer of 2007. The analysis, compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies – an organization that advocates legal immigration while working against illegal entry – showed the number of new illegal immigrants has dropped one-third since earlier this decade.

Pullen, an anti-illegal immigration activist before becoming chairman of the state GOP, also said he is backing Sen. John McCain for re-election, despite the fact that he and McCain have had their differences over the immigration issue.

“John McCain said he supports the Republican Party’s platform on immigration. You know, that’s good enough for me, since I wrote it,” Pullen said.

“His basic position is the right position,” Pullen said. “That works for me.”

McCain is running for a fifth term in the Senate in 2010. He has supported comprehensive immigration reform, a position that has angered some in the Republican base. Next year, he probably will face Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman border patrol organization, in the Republican primary.

Though Simcox is well-known among anti-immigration advocates, he is unlikely to pose a serious threat to McCain, Pullen said.

Still, Pullen and McCain have not always seen eye to eye.

“The senator and I have had our disagreements, besides immigration also (on) McCain-Feingold,” Pullen said, referring to the landmark campaign finance reform McCain spearheaded along with Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.

When Pullen first ran for state chairman, many saw McCain’s influence in helping another candidate get nearly enough votes for the win. But Pullen indicated that bygones were bygones.

“Going back to when he was my congressman, I’ve always supported him and endorsed him in every election he’s had, because I have tremendous respect for him,” Pullen said of McCain. “I recognize it’s OK to have disagreements on things, but overall we agree on a heck of a lot more than we disagree.”

Pullen said Arizona’s two Republican senators, McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl, have been helpful to the state GOP, and that he expects McCain to again help with party activities.

“He will be helpful with the party raising money,” Pullen said of the state’s senior senator.

A review of contributions made by both McCain’s and Kyl’s political action committees showed neither had given money to Arizona Republicans.

Kyl’s leadership PAC, called the Senate Majority Fund, gave McCain $5,000, and he has given $35,000 to Republican Senate candidates across the country, along with $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

McCain’s PAC, called Country First, has doled out $22,700 to Senate candidates and $5,000 to Congressional candidates, including $2,500 to Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward, a Republican congressional candidate in Idaho who directed McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign in Nevada.

-Reid Wilson is a staff writer for The Hill in Washington D.C. who also contributes to the Arizona Capitol Times.

9 comments

  1. McCain/Kennedy! Remember that one?

  2. Senator John McCain is the number one supporter in the U.S. Senate for giving U.S. citizenship to illegal aliens. Massive illegal immigration is destroying our nation. Amnesty would pour gasoline on a blazing fire. McCain is about as popular with rank and file conservative Republicans as a skunk at a picnic.

  3. Pullen is a turncoat and a liar. He may have once been an anti-Invasion guy, but he isnt’ anymore. Any fool who who back McAmnesty is no anti-Invasion activist.

    This is not to say that Pullen should be supporting challenger Chris Simcox who has tarnished the Minutemen image by building a phony fence on a small section of the Border, with missing funds and connections with the shady Declaration Alliance.

    Whatever caused Pullen to back the most disgusting pol this side of Lindsey Graham, his reasons don’t wash. Pullen should have been booted from the GOP as should have McCain. Anyone who would support McCain’s positions is no Republican. McCain is a pro-war Dem.

  4. I’d love to see McCain put out to pasture, but you would need a candidate with more stature than Chris Simcox.

  5. Or McCain/Feingold?

    Time to put this old war horse out to pasture.

  6. Since McCAMNESTY lost the nomination in 2000 he has been moving away from the center he always claimed and to the left. When he choose to “cross the aisle” it was almost always in support of something (Open Borders, ILLEGALS, limit contributions, etc,..) that could be utilized as a stick to “poke” his supposed enemies who betrayed his run for President. It seems he wants to “even the score” by turning the United States into just another Third World Country to prove that everyone was “wrong” about him. I am tired of being “poked” with McCAMNESTY’s AMNESTY stick!

  7. Patrick Michael Connors

    Much is at stake in the future while Mr. Obama remains in office. Senator McCain’s middle of the road tendencies are of no use to the Republican Party. He is almost single-handedly responsible for diminishing the party’s influence and in some ways introduced this distorted view of a “bigger tent.” I find it appalling that his continued importance is somehow based on the amount of cash he contributes. In my view this is nothing more than bribery to remain in power. Mr. McCain, though a former military man, is a thorn in the side of Defense… he helped kill the F-22, (while obsessed with the less capable F-35)
    has stifled aerial refuelers and who knows what else. Moreover, he is a proponent of cap and trade, remains weak on the issue of illegals and is in far too deep with those across the aisle now dismantling our republic. He needs to go! Thank harder Mr. Pullen.

  8. Don’t forget http://www.jimdeakin.com. Jim Deakin put his hat in against McAmnesty months before “where did the money go” even thought about running.

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