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Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Arizona

McCain Goes Negative, Again

John McCain saw the writing on the wall months ago, taking former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's primary challenge seriously from the get-go. Today, McCain's Senate campaign released a second TV ad going after Hayworth's record.

The first ad, released two weeks ago, labeled Hayworth an "avid earmarker" during his six terms in Congress. The new ad targets his post-congressional career and challenges Hayworth's depiction of himself as a Washington outsider.

"J.D. Hayworth says he's an outsider," the ad's announcer states. "But after he was voted out of Congress he became a registered lobbyist. Hayworth was paid thousands by a Florida corporation to lobby the very committee he used to serve on. Outsider? A lobbyist is as inside Washington as it gets."

The campaign also released a new radio ad that focuses on the same theme.

"J.D. Hayworth says he's an outsider. Hmmm," says the announcer. "Well, he was an insider as a member of Congress. Then, his big spending ways and taint of a lobbying scandal became too much for Arizonans. We voted Hayworth out of office. So what does Hayworth do? Remarkably, he decides to become a lobbyist himself."

The Hayworth campaign responded by bringing up the lobbying work of some of McCain's closest advisers on the campaign, as well as McCain's previous job as Senate liaison for the Navy.

"For 28 years, McCain has been the consummate Washington insider and this is just another effort on his part to remake himself during this campaign by spinning half-truths and flip-flopping on important issues," said Hayworth spokesman Mark Sanders.

Here is McCain's new TV ad, titled "Washington Lobbyist":

Hayworth, McCain Wage War In AZ Senate Primary

The Arizona Republican Senate primary features a former Republican congressman challenging the party's most recent presidential nominee, and it's so far proven to be one of the more interesting races of the year -- this week especially.

The campaigns for Sen. John McCain and J.D. Hayworth have consistently traded shots -- that McCain isn't conservative enough and that Hayworth isn't the fiscal conservative he says he is. Both have congressional voting records the other can attack, and both have jumped at that opportunity.

The Hayworth campaign says McCain is "vulnerable to the more conservative Hayworth on taxes, the Second Amendment, pro-life and pro-family issues and illegal immigration." Hayworth has run a radio ad highlighting his embracement of Christianity, "unlike some leaders who shy away from their faith." Another radio ad calls Hayworth the only "consistent conservative" in the race.

Hayworth gained plenty of press this week for stating in a radio interview that the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision in 2004 to allow gays and lesbians to marry was vague enough to imply that a human could marry a horse. It played into the McCain campaign's depiction of Hayworth as not fit for the Senate.

The campaign had already tied Hayworth to the birther movement, which believes President Obama is not a U.S. citizen and therefore cannot legally be president.

Meanwhile, McCain is bringing out the big guns: He brought in Mitt Romney this week, and next week Sarah Palin will appear with him in Tucson and Phoenix.

The latest battle du jour has erupted over earmarks. Hayworth recently slammed McCain for voting for the 2008 bank bailout, which "included $150 billion in pork." McCain retaliated with a web video in which the announcer says: "When it came to pork barrel earmarks, J.D. Hayworth just couldn't stop voting yes." McCain's video calls out Hayworth's support for the 2005 highway bill that included such projects as the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."

The Hayworth campaign called the ad "misleading" and a distorting of his record. The McCain campaign then responded to that, calling Hayworth a "big spending Republican."

McCain also boasts the support of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is McCain's maverick counterpart in the House. Flake, Hayworth's former colleague in the House, has long opposed the earmarking process, and this week criticized Hayworth's participation in it.

"While Senator McCain has offered countless bills and amendments in the U.S. Senate to address this problem, Congressman Hayworth's position on earmarks was part of the problem," Flake said.

A Rasmussen survey released this morning found the race close, with McCain getting 48 percent support to Hayworth's 41 percent. That's a low number for an entrenched incumbent like McCain.

AZ Delegation Backing McCain In Senate Primary

As former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) readies a campaign against Sen. John McCain (R), he'll be running without the support of his former colleagues in the Arizona Republican Congressional delegation. All, including Sen. Jon Kyl, are lining up behind the state's senior senator ahead of the August primary.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R) told RCP last week that in a year in which fiscal policy is a paramount concern for voters, no one will be able to challenge McCain's record on that issue.

"When it comes to the prescription drug benefit, whether it's farm bills, transportation bills, appropriations bills - McCain can point at his record and say he was opposed to that. It'll be more difficult for Hayworth to do that," Flake said.

The former presidential candidate can point primary voters to his strong opposition to the Obama agenda, Flake argued.

"I think people will look at records ... and say were it not for McCain and some others in the Senate, the election in Massachusetts would not have meant as much, because health care would have passed," Flake said. "It was the Senate that held that up, and John McCain was a big, big part of that."

Hayworth has telegraphed that he plans to challenge McCain from his right, calling himself a "consistent conservative." McCain has been vigorously responding already, and Flake says he can withstand those attacks.

"John McCain's support is both wider and deeper than people give him credit for. He works campaigns hard - he's a tireless campaigner. So I think he'll do fine," he said.

The Congressional delegation will be part of the campaign's leadership team, which will be rolled out soon. McCain has already been endorsed in Arizona by eight county sheriffs and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. His national support is led by his former running mate, Sarah Palin, as well as Sen.-elect Scott Brown and Steve Forbes.

All of which is to say, Hayworth has an uphill fight on his hands as he starts to roll out his campaign.

AZ Sen: Hayworth Making It Official

Arizona Sen. John McCain's possible primary challenger is now official. Former congressman J.D. Hayworth -- voted out of office three years ago -- is making his political comeback in this year's Senate Republican primary, challenging McCain from the right. After filing official papers last week, Hayworth will formally announce his candidacy Feb. 15.

Hayworth launched a robo-call campaign last week to persuade GOP voters that McCain had been in office for too long and that his voting record was too moderate. A poll released two weeks ago found McCain leading by 22 points.

"Chuck Todd and many others are right. This will be one of the hottest races in the country because this will be democracy at its very best," Hayworth said in a released statement, noting Todd calling this a Top 10 primary on his MSNBC morning show last week. "It will be an intense debate between a moderate with a transparent election year conversion and a conservative willing to respect but also stand up to the flip-flops and unreliability of a moderate masquerading as a maverick."

Hayworth Robo-Calling In Arizona

Former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth is launching a robocall campaign in Arizona prior to the formal announcement of his Senate candidacy. The call, which the Hayworth campaign says is going out to "tens of thousands of Republicans statewide," takes direct shots at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his length of service and voting record.

Here is the script, as provided by Hayworth:

Hi, this is JD Hayworth calling. If you share my opinion that John McCain has admirably served our country but that 28 years in Washington is just too long, then I want you to know that I will soon be announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate. Arizona's Republicans deserve a choice and an alternative to Senator McCain¹s moderate record on taxes, social issues, the border, and bailing out the banks. I will be a consistent, faithful conservative that you can rely on to put Arizona first. This is going to be a great debate, and I need you. Please get involved by going to . (Disclaimer)

AZ Sen Poll: McCain Opens Primary Lead

Sen. John McCain (R) has known from an early stage that he could face a tough primary in his bid for re-election this year, and acted on it. He already launched radio ads touting his effort to block President Obama's "extreme left wing crusade." And just this week, Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) recorded robocalls that went out to voters in Arizona.

Now, a Rasmussen poll (502 LVs, 1/20, MoE +/- 4.5%) shows the Maverick just over 50 percent in a potential matchup against former Rep. JD Hayworth -- not the best position for an incumbent to be, but an improvement over the dead heat Rasmussen found in November.

Primary Election Matchup
McCain 53 (+8 vs. last poll, 11/18)
Hayworth 31 (-12)
Simcox 4 (unch)
Und 8 (+1)

Hayworth has not entered the race yet, but been publicly flirting with it for some time. Meanwhile, McCain's camp announced this week that his former running mate, Sarah Palin, will campaign for him in late March.

Favorable Ratings
McCain 74 / 23
Hayworth 58 / 25
Simcox 28 / 23

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McCain Re-election Ad: Obama Waging "Extreme Left Crusade"

Sen. John McCain, facing a potential primary challenge in his bid for a new term, is launching two new radio ads today that call him "Arizona's last line of defense."

In one ad, McCain himself accuses President Obama of waging an "extreme left wing crusade to bankrupt America." "I stand in his way every day," the former Republican presidential hopeful then says.

In an email announcing the ads to his supporters, McCain writes that he is "anticipating a competitive reelection race," and the ads are meant to highlight "my efforts to represent our shared values." He also asks for "a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or more to help our campaign expand our ad buy."

Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman movement, has already announced a challenge to McCain. Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth is also said to be considering a run. The state's primary is August 31.

The Maverick Looks Safe In 2010

All signs point to another six years in the Senate for John McCain, should he stick to his word and seek a fifth term. Public Policy Polling (D) finds that his race against Minuteman Project founder Chris Simcox is a better storyline than it is a race.

Senate Primary Matchups
McCain 67
Simcox 17
Undecided 17

About one in four likely Republican voters disapprove of the job McCain is doing, compared to 65 who approve. A more intriguing race is in the Republican gubernatorial primary, where Gov. Jan Brewer, who took office after Janet Napolitano became Homeland Security Secretary, struggles in several hypothetical matchups.

Gubernatorial Primary Matchups
Brewer 39 - Symington 31 - Und 30
Martin 37 - Brewer 26 - Und 37
Symington 34 - Martin 26 - Brewer 22 - Und 19

We noted that Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard lead all three potential Republican candidates in general election matchups.

The survey of 400 likely primary voters was conducted September 18-21, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

McCain To Run For Re-election In '10

Arizona Sen. John McCain, fresh off a losing presidential bid, announced today that he's planning to run for re-election to the Senate in 2010. From the Boston Globe's write-up of McCain's Phoenix press conference:

Asked about getting over a crushing loss, he said "you really have to take an attitude" that it was an honor to run as the GOP nominee and that the American people rendered their verdict.

"We worked hard and inspired a lot of people," he said. "We look back with pride on the campaign we ran."

Politico's Josh Kraushaar notes that the person seen as McCain's greatest competition for re-election has been tapped to serve in the new administration -- Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who will lead the Department of Homeland Security. Others, Kraushaar writes, who could take on McCain include: Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Attorney General Terry Goddard.