Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) easily defeated her two right-wing opponents to win her state’s Senate nomination Tuesday, setting up a marquee matchup against fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

McSally led former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio by wide margins, with 51 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Ward and 20 percent for Arpaio, when the Associated Press called the race shortly before midnight EST.

McSally’s comfortable win comes after she and her allies spent millions in ads to destroy Ward in the race’s closing weeks, a sign McSally’s campaign wasn’t comfortable with where the race stood until right before Election Day. McSally also bear-hugged President Trump, featuring him in ads, a decision that played well in the primary but may come back to haunt her in the fall in the purple-trending state.

The result is a big relief for establishment Republicans who believed the other two candidates would take the race off the map if Ward or Arpaio won the primary.

McSally’s opponents helped her plenty as well. Arpaio’s decision to run split the hardline anti-immigrant, Trump-aligned and fringe vote, giving McSally a much easier path to the nomination. He didn’t run a real race, never once airing campaign ads. And Ward spent the home stretch of the race insulting the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the final days before his death and warring with staffers she’d fired who then went to work for Arpaio.

While McSally has had to spend months fending off her gadfly challengers, Sinema has spent that time burnishing her centrist credentials with voters.

She kept that up Tuesday night, leading her victory statement by paying homage to McCain and “the lifetime of service and the example he has set for us.”

“It’s up to all of us to follow his lead of always putting country over party,” she said. “Tonight, we look ahead and continue fighting to uphold the values we all share: a fair shot at the American Dream and an unwavering commitment to the Arizona we love.”

McSally, likewise, paid homage to McCain in her victory speech, calling him an “American hero” who “paid an unfathomable price for our freedom.”

Sinema began her career as a much more liberal activist, working for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign and leading Iraq War protests in the state. While she’s cultivated a centrist voting record since reaching Congress six years ago, it remains to be seen whether her independent bona fides will hold up under an onslaught of ad spending from McSally and her allies.

Strategists in both parties predict a close and expensive race — but both Democrats and Republicans told TPM that they’d rather be Sinema than McSally in recent weeks. Sinema has led McSally by single digits in almost every public and private poll of the race so far. And while McSally will likely consolidate some of the GOP base now that she has the nomination, she’ll have to make sure to keep them happy as she tries to pivot back to her previous centrist image — a tough dance when early voting in the race begins in just over a month.

The race is one of Democrats’ two best pickup opportunities this fall, alongside Nevada, and is a must-win for them if they hope to avoid losing ground in the Senate and keeping their very slim hopes alive of winning Senate control this November.

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Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R) isn’t ready to let bygones be bygones with the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Ward, on the eve of her Senate primary and just two days after McCain’s death, made a number of veiled swipes at the man she ran against in 2016.

Ward at first denied during a Monday press conference that she’d called for McCain to step down right after he announced his cancer diagnosis last year (she’d also suggested she get appointed to the seat). When a reporter confronted her with the exact quote, she doubled down on her earlier remarks, saying that McCain should have stepped aside earlier if his disease meant he couldn’t do his job well.

She then compared McCain’s illness to Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) corruption trial, and argued that politicians like them should step aside more often.

“The power of that incumbency is so sweet for them, the millions of dollars in special interest money that flows into those coffers across the board,” she said. “I think must be irresistible for them, because very few, too few, put the country in front of themselves and their ambitions.”

And when she was asked about the new bipartisan Senate push to rename the Senate Russell Office Building after McCain, she shrugged, saying: “I have to fly out of the McCain terminal sometimes here,” and just wanted to be senator.

The comments are the latest swipes against McCain in recent days.

Over the weekend, Ward suggested that McCain announced he was discontinuing his cancer treatment on Friday as a way to undercut her Senate campaign in the closing days of the primary.

She then tweeted this on Monday, though she later denied it was about McCain:

Ward, a conspiracy theorist-loving hardline conservative who lost a primary to McCain in 2016, is running against Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) seat. McSally is expected to win their Tuesday primary comfortably.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has died, snuffing out one of the Senate’s most singular voices and removing one of President Trump’s fiercest Republican critics from the national arena.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has just a four-point lead against Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), according to a new public poll from Marist College and NBC News.

Cruz leads O’Rourke by 49 percent to 45 percent in the poll of registered voters, a warning sign for the polarizing senator as he looks to win a second term. By contrast, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has a 19-point lead in the poll.

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President Trump ranted for 90 minutes onstage in West Virginia Tuesday night without once mentioning his two top campaign advisers who were found guilty of crimes just hours earlier.

Speaking at a campaign rally featuring Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey (R), Trump carefully avoided his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict on eight counts, former Trump attorney and consigliere Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, and Cohen’s implication in court that Trump was involved in encouraging illegal in-kind campaign contributions to cover up his alleged affairs.

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds and filing false campaign finance documents.

The indictment comes after a yearlong Justice Department investigation into whether the congressman and early supporter of President Trump illegally misused campaign funds for personal reasons. He and his wife Margaret, who also served as his campaign manager, are accused of routinely using campaign money to pay to fly his pet rabbit back and forth from his district, as well as for dental work, multiple vacations including one to Italy, and heavy spending at restaurants.

The charges: Conspiracy to enrich themselves by using campaign funds “for their own personal benefit,” even though campaign staffers warned them that they were violating the law.

Hunter has reimbursed his campaign more than $65,000 already, but maintained that he didn’t commit any crimes, and his lawyers had previously described the lavish spending of campaign funds as “inadvertent and unintentional.”

Hunter was the second House Republican to endorse President Trump, and this indictment means that Trump’s two earliest House backers have now been indicted following Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) own, separate legal troubles.

The indictment could put Hunter’s normally safely Republican seat in jeopardy this fall. President Trump won the San Diego-area district, which is one of the most conservative in the state, by 15 percentage points. But Democrats are excited about their candidate, former Obama administration official Ammar Campa-Najjar, and believe that with the indictment the seat could be in play.

Republicans leaders moved quickly to contain the damage, removing Hunter from his committee assignments.

“The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious. The Ethics Committee deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department. Now that he has been indicted, Rep. Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments pending the resolution of this matter,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in a Tuesday night statement.

CNN has the full indictment here.

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