Friday, July 30, 2010

Arizona U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Arizona U.S. Senate

July 30, 2010
95 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

After his well-documented heroic military service, John McCain entered politics nearly 30 years ago. He has gone on to become one of the most prominent Republicans in America, culminating in his capturing his party's Presidential nomination in 2008 at the age of 72. While his final campaign for President was unsuccessful, due to his own weaknesses as a candidate, the political skills of his opponent, and a very tough political environment for the GOP, McCain has definitely not faded into the background. He has used his role as an elder statesman to remain one of the staunchest voices in the party, and quickly confirmed he would be a candidate for reelection to the Senate. While he is currently facing the toughest primary in his career as an incumbent, it appears he will cap off his life in politics with a last victory.

In the years leading up to his losing race for the White House against Barack Obama, McCain had cut a mold for himself as a "maverick", who often found himself estranged from other conservatives on issues such as campaign finance and immigration. Those stances, and his willingness to criticize Republicans often earned him the praise of liberals and the media. As his party's Presidential nominee, many conservatives had to sort of clench their teeth while casting their vote for him, and others avoided doing so all together.

While the media's love affair with McCain largely came to an end in the campaign against Obama, (and due to the fact that he has often been a very harsh critic of the President after the election), McCain still is facing considerable opposition among conservative activists in his state and across the country in his campaign for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. A politically strong Democrat does not appear on the horizon for that race, but the incumbent is facing a spirited primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth, a bombastic former Congressman, who came to Washington with the Class of 1994 and was defeated for reelection as Democrats took back control of the House in 2006.

Hayworth quit a lucrative gig as a radio talk show host in Arizona to make the race, and another McCain primary opponent from the right dropped out in the wake of that news. However, a third GOP candidate has remained in the race and has taken part in the two debates held. If the McCain vs. Hayworth contest were to come down to a very close margin, that could make the difference in favor of the incumbent.

Nonetheless, despite some previous polling data showing Hayworth very much alive in the primary, more recent events have greatly stabilized McCain's standings and while the primary electorate in Arizona should be conservative, it would now be a huge shock if Hayworth were to defeat the most recent GOP standard bearer in a primary.

Still though, the primary between the two men has been nothing less than brutal. McCain usually seems to personally dislike his political opponents and this race appears to be no exception. Hayworth has based his campaign as a more "consistent conservative" than the Senator, and the issue of immigration and what McCain's critics call his support of "amnesty" has been a major debating point in a state where it is so much in the news. In facing this primary challenge, McCain has seemed to move a great deal to the right on the issue of illegal immigration, running ads in favor of building a fence with Mexico and strongly supporting the state's controversial law dealing with undocumented lawbreakers.

In the debates, the glib Hayworth has gotten off several scripted rhetorical punches at McCain, but is basically in a desperate position, similar to that McCain himself had found himself during debates in at the final stages of his Presidential campaigns. He has gone after Hayworth for supporting pork-barrell spending projects during his tenure in Washington,and in some particularly devestating ads, the former Congressman's late-night infomercial advocacy of a shady company promising "free government money." McCain has also been bolstered by the endorsements and campaign appearences of prominent national Republicans such as the woman he catapulted to national prominence (and who is a good deal more popular with conservatives than he is), former runningmate Sarah Palin, and former GOP Presidential rival Mitt Romney.

If the Democrats were seriously contesting this race, and if the political environment in Arizona was not so stacked against that party this year, the blood feud between McCain and Hayworth could have serious consequences. That does not seem to be the case though as whomever emerges from next month's Democrat primary will be a very severe underdog. That primary happens to be up for grabs, with nearly half of all voters undecided. The top three contenders are a young former Tucson City Councilman named Rodney Glassman, who had seemed to be the preferred candidate of the party establishment. More recently though, former State Health Director Cathy Eden and former union official and civil rights activist Randy Parraz have entered the race. A Rasmussen poll from late this month shows that Glassman has a very slight lead, but since the race is so low profile at the moment in the state, it could go in either direction. Eden could benefit from being the only woman in the field, or a strong effort by the Democrats' Hispanic base, in opposition to SB 1040, could deliver the nomination to Parraz.

Against McCain, Democrats will have no chance of winning in November, though the incumbent's margin should not be as high as his last two overwhelming reelections. If somehow, Hayworth achieves a Tea Party stunner, the aftermath of the primary, and the divisiveness of the candidate could make the race a different event. Still though, polls show that Hayworth would be favored over the Democrats, albeit by a slimmer margin. Thus, until the Republican primary is over, the current ranking is Likely Republican.

McCain campaign link (Country many might remember I was a solid Romney supporter in 2008, and think he would have run a much better campaign and could have possibly even beaten Obama. However, when McCain was nominated, I supported him 100 percent. If he were in the White House today, he probably would be pretty unpopular himself right now, but America and the world would be much better off)

2010 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 0 D, 3 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 40 D, 26 R