Archive for January 10th, 2010

Hayworth Gearing Up For Senate Race

By Reid Wilson

Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) is seriously exploring a bid against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), according to sources with knowledge of his plans.

Hayworth has been in touch with consultants to gauge their interest in working for his potential candidacy, and he has made several high-profile appearances of late. That indicates the buzz about a bid is more than just a ploy to pay off old legal debts, as many AZ politicos had suspected.

“Hayworth’s biggest obstacle is his personal finances, but being in the U.S. Senate is a lifelong pursuit for him,” said one GOPer familiar with AZ politics. “I’d be surprised if he didn’t run.”

Hayworth lost his seat to Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) in the ’06 Dem wave. But in recent months, he’s made several indications he may challenge McCain. Hayworth uses his daily radio show to lambast McCain regularly, and one public poll, from Rasmussen, indicated he could have a chance if he ran.

McCain aides are planning as if Hayworth will run. As an indication they are aware of the threat, McCain’s campaign has just purchased advertising time on the radio station where Hayworth hosts his show, KFYI, and they plan a major ad buy while Hayworth is on air, said a source with knowledge of the plans.

McCain has 2 radio ads running on stations around the state, according to a top aide.

Hayworth visited DC in Dec. to meet with supporters, and he has already contracted a polling firm, sources familiar with his thinking say. He was the headliner at a holiday fundraiser held by popular Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Money from that event went to help pay down Hayworht’s legal debt.

Meanwhile, the only live-call poll of the potential matchup so far shows McCain in a commanding position. The Tarrance Group (R) survey, conducted Dec. 8-10 for the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, showed McCain leading by a 57%-36% margin.

The foundation is a 501(c)(4) organization set up in ’08 with the express purpose of aiding McCain’s pres. bid. Longtime McCain advisor Rick Reed established the group. Nonetheless, the poll showed 60% of AZ GOPers had a favorable impression of Hayworth, and just 15% saw him unfavorably.

If Hayworth runs, he will be an underdog at the start. But AZ conservatives who see immigration as a top issue are largely skeptical of McCain’s support for a comprehensive approach to reform, and Hayworth’s more conservative approach may give those voters an outlet for their unhappiness. Even former McCain advisors privately admit to Hotline OnCall that McCain may have more of a race on his hands than anticipated.

Hayworth didn’t respond to an email message seeking comment. Meanwhile, Dems say they will become more serious about AZ if Hayworth’s challenge looks like a serious threat to McCain, who otherwise would likely get a pass from the national party. [emphasis mine]

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