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What In The World Does John McCain Do For An Encore

What is one suppose to say about John McCain winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Arizona after all he’s been through.

The Republicans don’t like him because many figure he’s a sell out to their party principles. After all, the story line says, anyone who teams up with Ted Kennedy on immigration reform must be insane or senile.

The Democrats would like to like McCain because they like mavericks and he would attempt to compromise with them on a variety of national issues.

The thing is, no one really understands McCain for what he is. Here, in his own words, at a victory celebration Tuesday night:

“This was a tough, hard-fought primary,” McCain said at a victory party — and he quickly looked to the fall campaign. “I promise you, I take nothing for granted and will fight with every ounce of strength and conviction I possess to make the case for my continued service in the Senate.”

Beaten in presidential bids in 2000 by George Bush and in 2008 by Barack Obama, McCain now takes no prisoners and is a rattlesnake coiled to take on all comers even though his latest opponent was a mouse.

Last I looked, McCain was leading J. D. Hayworth the conservative with Tea Party support by 58% with 41% of the votes counted and declared victor two hours earlier.

McCain spent $20 million, the most ever in an Arizona election, to humiliate, crush and stomp on his closest rival. He went so far right of Hayworth it made J.D. look like a socialist.

His hometown newspaper, the Arizona Republic:

“McCain works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen,” said Bruce Merrill, a veteran Arizona political scientist who has followed McCain’s career since he first ran for the U.S. House in 1982. “He understands the media extremely well. If you go back and look at this race, he took it seriously even before J.D. got involved. He was running negative ads against J.D. before J.D. even entered the race. That’s really pretty typical McCain: he’s got this dogged determination whenever he does thing.”

And then Merrill asks the question on everyone’s mind:

“When you’re in a Republican primary, against a right-wing candidate, it’s not dumb to me to move more to the right during the primary,” Merrill said. “I think the bigger questions are what is McCain going to look like in the general election and what’s he going to look like after he’s re-elected.”

The Democratic challenger, now among four in a tight race, will be stomped and crushed by McCain in November.

And what does it feel like having McCain’s boot on your throat?

“I am sick of Washington politics,” said Bill Barnes, a Hayworth supporter at Hayworth’s election night event in Scottsdale. “Something has to change.”

Memo to Mr. Barnes: McCain changes a lot lately.

I revere John McCain for his service to his country, the sacrifices he suffered as a prisoner of war.

But as a politician, Nov. 2, 2010, will be his last hurrah in political campaigns. He is 74 and will be 81 when his last term expires in the Senate.

Those last six years I guarantee he will be somebody’s maverick.

(Tuesday election night photo courtesy of the Arizona Republic)

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