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McCain Ascension Sparks Arizona GOP Unity

When Pullen took the helm of the state party in January 2007 after narrowly defeating a candidate favored by the McCain camp in a contentious vote, business-minded Republicans went fleeing for the exits, believing that the party had been taken over by extremists.

But Pullen said both sides have since come together.

Pullen said there has been compromise on the immigration issue. And he said an effort was made to ensure that the Arizona delegation to the Republican National Convention was made up of conservatives, moderates, business-minded Republicans and others who make up the GOP coalition in the Grand Canyon State.

“There was a lot of strife within the party. And I’ve been a very public, verbal critic of some of Sen. McCain’s positions,” Pullen said in an interview last week in St. Paul. “But there was always a level of respect that was there that never went away. ... There are still some strifes here and there at a lower level. But I think in Arizona the Republican Party is united.”

Democrats dispute GOP claims that McCain will boost Republican Congressional candidates in Arizona on Nov. 4.

Democratic strategists in Washington, D.C., say Arizonans have a history of splitting their ticket and evaluating each candidate on his or her own merits. Democratic strategists in Arizona contend McCain is simply not as popular at home as he used to be.

“I find it hard to believe that McCain will have much, if any, downticket effect,” Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Emily DeRose said. “We haven’t seen any evidence that he will campaign for any candidates here, other than himself.”

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