Hayworth Challenging McCain
Former 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.”