Posted on May 26, 2010

Hard Line on Immigration Marks GOP Race in Arizona

Peter Slevin, Washington Post, May 22, 2010

J.D. Hayworth is a {snip} border hawk who called his book about immigration policy “Whatever It Takes.”

But [John] McCain, seeking his fifth term, is not about to be out-toughed this year. Once seen as more moderate on immigration, McCain has also endorsed the state law [SB 1070], which requires police to question people they “reasonably suspect” are here illegally. And he wants to send thousands of National Guard soldiers to the border.

McCain’s advertisements boast that he is “Arizona’s last line of defense.” In his newest spot, he walks the border with a county sheriff, who turns to McCain and declares, “You’re one of us.” {snip}

McCain’s repositioning has fueled Hayworth’s claim to be the “consistent conservative” while the incumbent is at best unpredictable. {snip}

Although McCain won the Republican nomination for president just two years ago, Hayworth pays little homage to his pedigree. He foresees an upset, thanks to the country’s anti-incumbent mood and the candidacy of a 73-year-old politician who ran an uneven presidential campaign and is distrusted by many conservatives.

Yet McCain remains the favorite with the Aug. 24 primary still three months away. He has money in the bank–$4.6 million to Hayworth’s $861,000 at the end of March–and a lead in the polls. Public Policy Polling showed McCain 11 points ahead in mid-April and the Rocky Mountain Poll showed him leading by 26 points. No top-tier Democrat has entered the race, which makes the winner of the GOP primary the favorite to win in November.


“We’ve recognized correctly that we need to be aggressive,” said Brian Rogers, McCain’s campaign spokesman. “Immigration is the dominant issue. It’s that and the economy, and they’re connected in people’s minds.”

McCain is likely to benefit from the party’s decision to hold an open primary, allowing independents, who typically favor the senator, to cast ballots. He also won the endorsement of former running mate Sarah Palin and got a boost when Arizona’s four largest tea party groups decided not to endorse a candidate.


Hayworth, too, was once more moderate on immigration, and he faces his own challenges, including ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. As a six-term congressman, he used sports skyboxes that Abramoff billed to clients, but did not report that fact to the Federal Election Commission until Abramoff’s criminal troubles became public. Hayworth’s campaign committee later repaid the Choctaw and Chitimacha tribes $12,800 for using the suites.


In Sun City, where more than 100 people gathered under a golf course gazebo to hear Hayworth, he said to applause that when he served as a congressman, he took an oath “to the Constitution of the United States and not the charter of the United Nations.”