Recent actions by Daniel McCarthy have many in the Republican Party and the Patriot movement wondering if the one-time congressional candidate is more interested in keeping his name in the headlines instead of helping change the system he professes is corrupt.
Last week McCarthy filed a $120 million defamation complaint against iHeartRadio and James T. Harris, host of the popular radio show The Conservative Circus. News of the lawsuit did not surprise some who have interacted with McCarthy in the past.
“Daniel has become a political monster,” one person familiar with McCarthy said. “He is volatile if you don’t agree with him. And his followers tend to be unsophisticated, so they don’t see how politics is simply a way for Daniel to obtain power.”
McCarthy ran against then-Sen. Martha McSally in last summer’s Republican primary. He spent much of the weeks leading up to the election complaining about the fact McSally would not agree to debates.
McSally won the primary with more than 75 percent of the votes. But the lop-sided loss didn’t discourage McCarthy, who achieved some business success with a cosmetic company whose products were mainly manufactured in China.
Instead, he promised to work to remove RINOs -Republicans In Name Only- from office and is giving his time and “a great deal of money” to efforts to create the Patriot Party Arizona. And those are not the only ways McCarthy is trying to remain a relevant figure in Arizona politics.
Just before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol he took to social media to call Vice President Mike Pence “a fraud” who should be held “personally liable” for not fighting for election integrity. The day after the riot, McCarthy posted a video calling on Arizonans to “rally around” the Patriot Party Arizona.
“The Republican Party is gone. It has no credibility,” McCarthy said.
More recently, McCarthy reached into the Patriot movement playbook when Arizona Republicans convened Jan. 23 to elect their party leadership. McCarthy had no formal role at the meeting beyond that as a precinct committeeman, but he still found a way to get on stage.
His presence on the stage generated some boos as well as a threat of arrest from event organizers. Afterward, McCarthy posted a cryptic message on social media.
“Will the GOP dislodge from the Uniparty system? We don’t have much time left. I won’t stop warning you no matter how uncomfortable it is to hear,” he wrote.
McCarthy and the Republican Party establishment have not seen eye to eye since he announced a run against McSally. But a serious split can be traced back to his primary loss which McCarthy claims involved fraud that party officials ignored.
The schism cracked wide open during a Nov. 7 “Stop the Steal” event in Phoenix when McCarthy was seen and heard shouting down AZ GOP chair Kelli Ward while she addressed the crowd. The event was set up to support President Donald Trump’s challenge of Arizona’s election results.
Witnesses say McCarthy appeared “agitated and out of control” after his former campaign strategist Steve Daniels was told at least twice that McCarthy would not be allowed to speak. However, witnesses say Daniels approached the speaker area where Harris, a popular radio personality, had just been introduced to the crowd.
Minutes later, McCarthy had the microphone over the objection of rally organizers.
And his anti-Republican Party comments at an event organized on behalf of election integrity hit a sour note with many, according to witnesses.
“Daniel lost, and lost big, against McSally yet there he was telling us how we should be running the Party,” one witness told Arizona Daily Independent. “It was downright disrespectful to all of us.”
The Republican Party in Arizona is used to change, even turmoil, including the Tea Party phenomena which took hold in 2009. In Arizona, the Patriot “movement” can be traced to the campaign leading up to the 2016 presidential election, although there are fractions which support aggressive grassroots actions while others are focused more on constitutional conservatism.
Things grew exponentially with the Patriot movement in 2017 and 2018, particularly after protests were organized in opposition to the Red For Ed initiative. By early 2019 the movement had two distinct state groups, the Patriot Movement AZ and the AZ Patriots. Many followers of both groups latched onto McCarthy’s campaign.
A popular activity patriots involves “inviting” themselves to events organized by other groups, even if it means disrupting or even hijacking those events. And that is what several people say Daniels and McCarthy did at the Nov. 7 Stop the Steal rally.
The guest list of speakers included several elected officials as well as Ward. However, Daniels advocated for McCarthy to speak, and at one point his aggressiveness in making his argument put at least one person in fear of injury, witnesses say.
Meanwhile, McCarthy was standing to the side of the speakers’ area and proceeded to yell at Ward, making it difficult for others to hear her comments.
“He seemed upset that Dr. Ward was allowed to speak when he was denied the microphone and relegated to the sidelines,” said another witness who added that McCarthy’s agitation appeared to increase when the crowd gave an enthusiastic welcome to Harris.
The idea of a Patriot Party Arizona doesn’t seem to bother most Republicans, many of whom believe it will implode under the weight of McCarthy’s ego.
“Wherever he goes it’s like the Daniel McCarthy Show,” one Republican official said. “His 15 minutes should have been up when he lost in August.”