Here Comes the Purge

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures as he arrives to address the third session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa

Things have been nasty in the Arizona GOP for a while now, and they’re getting nastier:

As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies.

The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.

Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices.

I spoke at a Tea Party rally in Tucson in 2010 (Pro Tip: Never follow Tammy Bruce!), when McCain was “nice” enough to come by and speak first. As soon as he was finished, he left — and took with him all of his supporters he’d bussed in from elsewhere. It was a hell of a slap in the face to the organizers, who had held out an olive branch by inviting him.

Nothing that’s followed since then has been surprising in the least — I just hope my Arizona Tea Party friends have learned a thing or two since 2010 about playing dirty.