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Example with a context:

Another hated ‘pindos’ is Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), famous in Russia for his periodic tweets to ‘Dear Vlad.’ In 2011, for example, Mr. McCain tweeted Putin, “Dear Vlad, The #ArabSpring is coming to a neighborhood near you.”

I can't really figure that one out, though something tells me that this might stand for something like representative of Arizona. Am I on the right track with my assumption?

marked as duplicate by user3169, Tyler James Young, ColleenV, 200_success, David Richerby Dec 30 '14 at 23:25

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It means "Republican from Arizona"

It's just shorthand.

Other uses would be like (D-Cal.) , which is "Democrat from California" Or (I-Vt.), which is "Independent from Vermont"

This shorthand is usually just applied for politicians. You wouldn't likely see shorthand like this for a regular citizen/voter.

Another way it could have been written is like this:

Another hated 'expletive' is the Republican senator John McCain from Arizona, ...

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    I thought (I-Vt) was shorthand for Bernie Sanders ;) – diego Dec 30 '14 at 16:52
  • Another thing to note: in the United States, you will never see this shorthand with any letters except for "D" for "Democrat", "R" for "Republican", or "I" for "Independent", because there are no other major parties, and all the minor parties are grouped together under "Independent". – senshin Dec 30 '14 at 19:07
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    It doesn't mean just any "Republican from Arizona", it means "Republican representative for Arizona" (either 1 of the 2 Senators, or one of Arizona's (currently 9) Congressional districts. – smci Dec 30 '14 at 19:22
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    @smci True, except it need not be a federal representative. The notation is also used for state reps. Like a newspaper might print "Fred Smith (D-Albany)" if Mr Smith is the representative to the state legislature from Albany and he is a Democrat. Not as common though. – Jay Dec 31 '14 at 1:45
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As Sompuperoo said, it's an abbreviation that gives the political party and state of the congressperson. It's very common to use the two-letter abbreviation for the state, as in R-TX (Republican from Texas) or D-NY (Democrat from New York). This kind of abbreviation is normally only used after a person's name. You wouldn't say something like "He's D-FL" unless you were playing with words.

On political blogs you'll often see a similar abbreviation used to refer to numbered congressional districts within a state, such as TX-18 (the eighteenth district of Texas) or NY-04 (the fourth district of New York).

I've only seen this sort of abbreviation used in U.S. politics. As far as I can tell from a quick Googling, the UK, Australia, and Canada prefer to spell out where their MPs are from and what party they belong to. (Commonwealthers, please correct me if I'm wrong.)

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    You may well see abbreviations for the parties in the UK ("Con", "Lab", "Lib Dem", etc), but not for the constituencies (because people can't remember ~650 abbreviations). – Philip Kendall Dec 30 '14 at 19:23
  • @Philip Kendall: true, also because there isn't a federal system and not really any (state/)county government, so the county wouldn't matter much e.g. "Yorks-17". – smci Dec 30 '14 at 19:28
  • @smci - the constituencies in the UK are not numbered; they each have a name that reflects the geography.Example "Alan Beith (Liberal Democrat) - Berwick-upon-Tweed". See parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps for a full list. – Floris Dec 30 '14 at 22:07

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