Hayworth Challenging McCain

jd-hayworthFormer Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who lost his seat in 2006 — a tough year for Republicans — is challenging John McCain for his Senate seat in 2010, a tough year for Democrats. I read the news — which has been rumored for weeks — yesterday afternoon but The Arizona Republic‘s Dan Nowicki gives some context:

Former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth gave up his talk radio show Friday, and a key political supporter says it’s because Sen. John McCain muscled him off the air.

Hayworth has been considering a possible Republican primary challenge to McCain and now that he is off the air, he can enter the race without concern for his job. Earlier this week, Hayworth, a relentless McCain critic, said he no longer could discuss McCain’s candidacy or the Senate race on his weekday afternoon KFYI (550 AM) program on the opinion of lawyers for station owner Clear Channel Communications.

On Wednesday, lawyers for McCain’s re-election campaign wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that Hayworth was abusing the public airwaves by campaigning for federal office on the show. Previously, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a McCain ally, complained to the Federal Election Commission about Hayworth’s de facto radio electioneering.

Under federal law, broadcasters must provide equal time to all political candidates except under certain, specific circumstances. Hayworth’s status as a daily commentator who had not formally declared his candidacy presented a gray area.

“It is because Senator McCain used his influence and power to intimidate a radio station and silence a conservative voice,” said Jason Rose, a political consultant who supports Hayworth and likely will be involved in any Senate campaign. “It’s very clear that Senator McCain has been trying to get him off the air, sits on the (Senate) Commerce Committee, oversees the FCC, and there was nervousness with the radio station that led to the decision today.”

Actually, while McCain is doubtless powerful, he left the Commerce Committee last session.   But the station was rightly concerned about having a presumptive but unannounced candidate using their airwaves on a daily basis to trash his presumptive opponent.   (I’m actually dubious of the Constitutionality of laws abridging political speech but wouldn’t expect a radio station to spend millions fighting the issue.)

Oh, and Hayworth has cleared away any doubts:  He’s running.

“We will formally announce at a later time, but we’re moving forward to challenge John McCain,” Hayworth told the Associated Press. “I think we all respect John. I think his place in history is secure. But after close to a quarter-century in Washington, it’s time for him to come home.”

I don’t have any strong sense of Arizona’s political climate but my sense is that Hayworth’s run is Quixotic. Indeed, “A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday indicates he is trailing McCain among likely Republican voters by 22 percentage points, 53 percent to 31 percent.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. steve says:

    This confuses me. What is the difference between Hayworth engaging in political speech and Fox News doing the same? Huckabee, Palin, Rove. Note that he is announcing only after being forced out.


  2. steve says:

    Oops, hit the button too soon. The leading political pundit on the right recently wrote an article on Huckabee leading Obama in the polls (though he favors Romney).



  3. James Joyner says:

    I’m not sure what the rules are, precisely. The old Fairness Doctrine is gone but there are still limits on what amount to in-kind donations by broadcasters to candidates.

    Although, now that I think about it, last week’s decision on corporate giving might change that.

  4. McGehee says:

    Huckabee and Palin are not declared candidates in 2010. Rove ain’t runnin’ for nothin’. But maybe that’s too simple.

    Then again, so is Huckabee. [rimshot]

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Hayworth’s got legal issues from responding to allegations involving Abramoff and Indian Tribes. He ran up huge legal bills to defend himself and has set up a vehicle to raise funds to retire the debt, telling people that he has no certin plans to run again, but if he did he needs money to retire this debt. He’s been running fundraisers for it. Some people might conclude he’s running for political office and indirectly soliciting contributions to his campaign.

  6. McGehee says:

    PD, it may be the other way around — sad to say. Given how many people across the country are unhappy with McCain, J.D. may see a quixotic campaign against McCain as an excellent high-profile way to raise more money than he could do otherwise.

    If he raises more money than he spends on actual campaigning, couldn’t he apply that money to his debt? I don’t like to think that way but…

  7. Wayne says:

    Most of the MSM campaigned for Obama. Some still are. Then there is the amount of time the MSM give Dems positive coverage versus Reps negative time.

  8. steve says:

    McCain had more time on the Sunday morning shows than any other politician. The most popular news show on TV, wouldnt that make it mainstream, shills for Republicans. At any rate, this is a complaint made by both sides. Both sides are convinced about MSM bias. Ague that if you want, but the more interesting point, IMHO, is what does this mean in regards to the practice of hiring candidates and giving them free air time? Should this be regarded as a violation of campaign law as the McCain campaign claims, or is it allowable under corporate free speech?

  9. Wayne says:

    Once the MSM help get McCain nominated as the GOP nominee, they did a 180 on him.

    Which would a candidate prefer Sunday morning shows or primetime shows with funny tinkling feeling running up reporter legs?

  10. Wayne says:

    Remember what someone doesn’t cover is as important as what they do. Kind of like bloggers who can’t think of any reason a scientist would lie about global warming facts then not covering scientist admitting they lie in order to receive research money.

    What amazing is that even though lies about the polar ice and Himalayan Glaciers has been proven and admitted to, many including many of the MSM will still repeat the lies as being true.

  11. OliverC says:

    I don’t have any strong sense of Arizona’s political climate but my sense is that Hayworth’s run is Quixotic. Indeed, “A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday indicates he is trailing McCain among likely Republican voters by 22 percentage points, 53 percent to 31 percent.”

    In November, they were essentially tied in a Rasmussen poll. I think the entrance of Palin made McCain more popular. The bloom may be off the rose very soon for Ms. Palin, when more people become aware of her pro-amnesty stance.

    I believe McCain is the most dangerous RINO in the Senate. We might have a health care bill called a ‘bipartisan compromise’ which would essentially be a disaster for the American people if McCain was not running for reelection this year. This is his pattern.

    Look out for ‘bipartisan’ amnesty legislation early in 2011 if McCain wins his seat. Lapdog Graham is working with Schumer on that piece of legislation right now. But Senator McAmnesty dare not be at those meetings!

    I think the grassroots must get behind Hayworth if we are to stop Obama.

  12. steve says:

    “Once the MSM help get McCain nominated as the GOP nominee, they did a 180 on him.

    Which would a candidate prefer Sunday morning shows or primetime shows with funny tinkling feeling running up reporter legs?”

    Quite a conspiracy. It is a wonder any Republican ever gets elected.


  13. Wayne says:

    That is why more and more people are considering the MSM as trustworthy as lawyers and politicians.

  14. Highlander says:

    James Mi Lad,

    I believe your lovely bride works for a polling firm. So you probably know better than most what the numbers mean, and how they can be cooked if need be.

    If “Blue Hair”(what’s left) Johnnie McCain can only muster 53% of the likely GOP voters in the Blue Hair capital of the universe, Arizona. Then he is likely political toast. His “Washington Hack” career is coming to an inglorious end. He can go home and help sell more Mafia beer.

    Because the people in general,and likely GOP primary voters in particular are pissed at the entire system. Mr McCain is a primary representative and architect of that sad system.

    Old men almost never know when it’s time to quit.
    Especially the pompous asses of the US Senate.

  15. This Guy says:

    Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod,
    You don’t have to work in polling to know that 53% is a pretty good starting point for an incumbent in a primary, especially when there is a third candidate. Simcox will get at least 5% of the vote from the super hard-core and this is before the campaign even starts. JD is a big spender and corrupt as hell. And, If JD is in debt, and off the radio, he won’t be much of a threat in terms of visibility. But where your little theory really falls apart is in speaking of pompous asses. I mean really, have you ever actually listened to Hayworth? He is the worst, and dumb to boot.

  16. Highlander says:


    Well actually 53% isn’t a good starting point for an incumbent of some 25 years. Also when you consider that Rasmussen polling lives or dies more or less at the discretion of the Republican Establishment. You can be pretty damn certain they did everything possible to make McCain’s numbers as rosy as possible.

    In addition you have the wild card of Independents being able to vote in the Republican primary in Arizona. They make up 30% of the electorate.

    I really don’t have a dog in this fight. And granted my impression is, Mr Hainsworth is no political rocket scientist himself. But I did have my first of many congressional campaign jobs almost 40 years ago. And these are rather remarkable times(Just ask Ms Coakley). From my vantage point your boy McCain has the smell of political death about him.