John McCain and Donald Trump will officially appear on the same ballot this November in Arizona, and another Arizonan, Robert Graham, hopes to make it to the top of the Republican Party’s national operation just two months later.
Graham, the current chair of the Arizona Republican Party, told NBC News he is considering running for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee next year – even if current chair Reince Priebus seeks another term.
“Whether [Priebus] is in the race or not is not going to be part of that deciding factor,” Graham told NBC News. “We’re working to do the best thing for the party. If we think we can contribute to the party and have people rally around, then we’ll do it.”
Graham insisted his current attention is on Arizona’s slate of campaigns before the November election. And for Graham, to be well positioned to make a bid to take the reigns of the national party, he will need to pull off victories for McCain and Trump in the state in order to make his case.
“To even be considered, I have to win Arizona,” Graham said.
Graham has billed Wednesday’s event with Trump as an “Arizona GOP Unity Rally,” and key to his pitch was the addition of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to the docket to speak on stage prior to Trump. It will be the governor’s first time publicly appearing with the GOP nominee.
Priebus, meanwhile, has not ruled out running for his fourth, two-year term. But Graham is the only Republican leader to publicly say he is also considering a run -- even if Priebus is in the race.
A RNC committeewoman told NBC News she is fond of Graham, the Arizonan, but questioned discussing the race for chair prior to the November election: “I know Robert, and I think he's a lovely gentleman and could probably do the job. But it's early."
Graham, a financial adviser who took over the state party in 2013, wanted to be sure he complimented the tenure of Priebus, suggesting he rejuvenated the party’s infrastructure.
“Reince has brought the party out of the ashes, literally, financially and with different data and digital efforts,” Graham said. “And we need to keep up that momentum.”
Lori Klein Corbin, Arizona’s RNC committeewoman, insisted that she is not thinking about the race for chair just yet, but she noted that Graham is “young” and “aggressive.”
“If he delivers our state for Trump, who knows?” Klein Corbin said. “[Trump] likes to reward success and people who get the job done.”
The RNC’s 168-member voting body will convene in January to select the next chair. Graham said -- if Trump wins – he will support “whomever his administration thinks will be best for the job.”