Despite a lot of talk about 2016 being the year of the outsider in the race for President, that call for dramatic change has not gone far in the Congress, and it again faces an uphill fight Tuesday in Arizona where Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is a strong favorite to win his party’s nomination in the face of opposition from some conservative Republicans.
McCain, who turned 80 on Monday, has long been viewed with suspicion by conservative elements within the GOP, but their efforts to boot him out of the Congress have failed before.
McCain’s main primary opponent, Kelli Ward, has tried to undermine the veteran Arizona Senator repeatedly, but she has struggled to gain in the polls, and her most recent attacks have centered on McCain’s age.
Back in 2010, conservatives tried to rally behind ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) to defeat McCain, but the veteran Arizona Senator won by over 20 points.
Like the recent effort to knock of Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, opponents of McCain have simply had difficulty getting traction against the incumbent.
The GOP winner will face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ).
The other U.S. Senate race being watched today is in Florida, where former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is bidding for another term.
Rubio had originally said he would not run for another term, no matter the outcome of the race for the White House – but just before the filing deadline, he changed his mind.
That pushed several Florida Republicans from the Congress – who were running for Rubio’s seat – back into a re-election bid for the U.S. House.
Rubio won a late endorsement from his former GOP rival for President, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). While Cruz is backing Rubio, he stayed out of the McCain race in Arizona.
On the Democratic side in the Sunshine State, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) is favored to defeat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) for the right to likely face Rubio in November.
In recent weeks as he pulled away in the polls, Murphy has focused more of his attention on Rubio – and Rubio’s endorsement of Donald Trump.
Florida has a bevy of Congressional primaries in both parties, as seven different seats in the U.S. House feature no incumbent.
Also, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), who is facing federal corruption charges, is trying to win her party’s nomination today as well for November.
After today’s voting in Florida and Arizona, only four states have primaries left for the Congress – Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
At this point, 48 House members won’t be back for the new Congress in January, along with 5 Senators.
While incumbents are favored across the board today, the number of those who won’t be back next year seems likely to grow come November.