“Arizona has always had a deep independent streak,” said Mr. Cole. The political landscape in the state is in flux now, with Mr. McCain’s passing and a bruising Republican primary set for Tuesday to replace Senator Jeff Flake, the Republican who announced that he would not seek another term after clashing with President Trump.
Offering a glimpse of the scars that some of Mr. McCain’s political battles produced in Arizona, some of the remembrances of him here were possibly as multilayered and complex as Mr. McCain himself. In an essay for The Phoenix New Times, a weekly newspaper, the journalist Amy Silverman described the callousness with which Mr. McCain would sometimes treat rivals, especially Democrats who are women.
“McCain could be a very colorful character, very real, he’d let it all hang out,” said Ms. Silverman, arguing that Mr. McCain never completely overcame his transplant status. She questioned the senator’s priorities in seeking to avoid, possibly to Arizona’s detriment, the pork-barrel spending projects that politicians elsewhere often prioritize, to the benefit of their constituents.
“For those of us here in Arizona, as McCain spent more and more time burnishing his reputation with the national media, well, maybe familiarity breeds contempt,” Ms. Silverman said, contending that Mr. McCain be remembered as “America’s senator, not Arizona’s.”
Mr. McCain might have argued otherwise, posting photos on social media, even as he dealt with cancer treatment, of hiking with his family in the hills around Cornville. Arizona, which catapulted him onto the national stage, served as his refuge as he expressed regret over the intensifying partisanship in United States politics.
“He suffered fools poorly, and that’s something people in Arizona admired him for,” said Gibson McKay, a former aide to Mr. McCain, pointing to the honor guard of veterans standing watch at the mortuary here in Phoenix, guarding Mr. McCain’s remains. “That straightforwardness, coupled with the tenacity with which he fought for his beliefs, earned him admiration. With John, you got what you saw.”