Onetime presidential nominee Sen. John McCain weighed in on the fierce political feud in Maricopa County on Thursday by endorsing Rick Romley in the Republican primary for county prosecutor.
In an email to Romley’s supporters, the Arizona senator praised the interim county attorney as a prosecutor who has the wherewithal to help sort out a nearly two-year political feud that has plagued the local government here.
“The extraordinary powers to indict and prosecute come with the extraordinary responsibility to apply them honorably,” McCain said. “Rick does.”
Romley, who previously served 16 years as county attorney, took over the office again in April after Republican Andrew Thomas resigned to run for state attorney general.
During Romley’s five year absence, Thomas used his role as chief prosecutor to target nearly a dozen county officials who he said engaged in a massive conspiracy to undermine his authority.
When Thomas resigned in April, one of his targets, the county Board of Supervisors, appointed Romley to help smooth out the feud.
“If you believe, as I do, that experience matters — that character matters — then you’ll understand why I’m so proud to stand with Rick Romley in the race for county attorney,” McCain said in his statement.
By endorsing Romley, McCain essentially butted heads once again with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the senator’s longtime adversary who is backing Romley’s opponent in the GOP primary.
Arpaio endorsed challenger Bill Montgomery, a former prosecutor in the county attorney’s office, and even paid for television commercials attacking Romley.
Romley and McCain, however, share more than just a common foe in Maricopa County. Both men are also veterans of the Vietnam War, where McCain was a POW and Romley lost both his legs.
McCain, who is also facing challengers in Tuesday’s primary, referred to the war connection as part of the endorsement, saying Romley “has spent nearly his entire life in service to others.”
“From his service to our country in Vietnam, where he lost both legs during battle,” McCain said, “to his relentless pursuit of justice for the victims of crime, Rick understands that doing what’s right, popular or not, is the true measure of service.”
The winner of Tuesday’s primary will go on to face Libertarian Michael Kielsky in the November general election. No Democrats are running in the race.