February 15th, 2010
03:08 PM ET
5 years ago

McCain challenger launches bid to unseat Arizona senator

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth will formally launch his campaign on Monday.
Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth will formally launch his campaign on Monday.

(CNN) – The Republican Party's most recent presidential nominee has earned a primary challenge from the right on President's Day.

J.D. Hayworth, a former Arizona congressman and radio host, formally announced Monday that's he's challenging Republican John McCain for his U.S. Senate seat.

"You could say they are two John McCains. The one who campaigns like a conservative and the one who legislates like a liberal," said Hayworth at a news conference at his new campaign office in Phoenix.

Hayworth also announced Monday that another conservative candidate who was challenging McCain dropped out of the race and endorsed the former congressman. Hayworth's event kicked off what is scheduled to be a three-day, 10-stop campaign swing through the state.

Hayworth, who served for six terms in the House before losing his 2006 re-election bid, stepped down last month as host of his conservative talk radio program in Phoenix. While he says he respects McCain's service, he says McCain's been in Washington too long and isn't conservative enough.

"We all love and think the world of John and John's place in history is secure," the 51-year old Hayworth told CNN correspondent Casey Wian on Friday. "But John no longer represents the common sense conservative philosophy that most Arizonans share."

McCain, 73, is running for a fifth term in the Senate. The 2008 GOP presidential nominee served six years in the House before winning election to the Senate in 1986. McCain hasn't faced a difficult re-election since 1992.

Hayworth's Web page bills him as "The Consistent Conservative," challenging McCain on health care reform, the national debt and illegal immigration. And a Hayworth press release from Friday mentions that McCain "voted for the massive bank bailout bill in 2008, which included $150 billion in earmarks."

McCain, meanwhile, is in the middle of an eight-day campaign swing through the state.

Asked by a reporter if Hayworth was getting some grassroots conservative support, McCain said "I don't know what kind of support that Mr. Hayworth has. I haven't seen much so far, but maybe I missed it. And the voters in his district threw him out in 2006, in a heavy Republican district."

At a campaign event Monday in Tempe, Arizona, where he received the official backing of 31 mayors from across the state, McCain said "I intend to go out there and earn every single vote."

McCain also told CNN that "I'm tenacious, I fight and I love a good campaign."

Over the past few weeks, McCain has announced endorsements from top conservatives like Dick Armey of FreedomWorks and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Last month, McCain's 2008 running mate, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, announced that she would travel to Arizona to campaign with McCain in late March. Palin's popularity with voters on the right could help McCain with some Republican voters who question his commitment to conservative values and goals.

Sen. Scott Brown, whose victory in last month's special senate election in Massachusetts energized the GOP, has also said he'll stump with McCain early next month. And Arizona's Republican congressional delegation announced Wednesday that it will support the four-term senator.

"I think it's safe to say that McCain, coming out of the presidential race, was concerned about his possible re-election. I think he was expecting a challenge from the right," said Dan Nowicki, political reporter for the Arizona Republic.

McCain's was already facing a primary challenge from Chris Simcox, a co-founder of the Minuteman movement. Simcox announced his candidacy last April and then resigned from the volunteer organization, which tries to prevent illegal crossings of the U.S. border. McCain's past support of immigration reform legislation in Congress nearly derailed his presidential bid two years ago.

But Hayworth announced Monday that Simcox ended his bid for the GOP senate nomination, and endorsed Hayworth. Simcox's withdrawal could help Hayworth consolidate support on the right.

"When J.D. got into this race I thought long and hard about the decision I had to make, and it became obvious to me that the right thing to do was to remember the mission: Elect a consistent conservative to the United State Senate," said Simcox. "My friends, that is exactly what we are here to do. So it is with great pleasure that I stand with J.D. Hayworth and endorse his campaign."

Businessman Jim Deakin is also challenging McCain. The primary election is slated for August 24.

– CNN's Peter Hamby, Casey Wian and Chuck Conder contributed to this report.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Updated: 3:08 p.m.


Filed under: 2010 • Arizona • J.D. Hayworth • John McCain
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. CommonSense09

    I hope McCain lose bad and maybe this time he will retire....he's so out of with the average American and then he don't make sense most of the time! Go enjoy your wife's money and travel some where far.....please!

    February 15, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. glen beck is off his meds again

    Being an Arizonian, I can safely say, although I cant stand hayworthless or mccain, believe me when I say, Mccain will waste NO time in reminding people of why worthless lost in 2006 to a VERY VERY liberal Harry Mitchell. Hes a snake oil salesman, Worthless is very much a base conservative, and certainly stands NO chance. Even though there are some Palin sorts in Scottsdale/phoenix, there are not enough. He has alot of dirt in his closet and it appears he is hoping Mccain in his old age will forget that, well AZ wont. He was found out to be a crook, and it will come back to bite him again. Mccain is MORE than safe after what hayworthless did to our state!

    February 15, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Willy Brown

    I hope the progressive McCain, RINO's and all progressives hiding in both parties get kicked to the curb in 2010 and especially in 2012, Barry. Both political parties suffer from the progressives that keep fueling the partisanship fires of hate for the other. Americans of all walks need to join together and rid the cancer in Washington, D.C. and that cure is the power of the informed voter. The voter who is educated on the issues and candidates position regardless of party and does not vote based by the parroted talking points of the RNC and DNC.

    February 15, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Sam

    McCain has a proven record as a fiscal conservative and even though I don't totally agree with his positions on the issue I think he can safely hold his own against a couple of wingnuts from the Minutemen and the Teabaggers respectively. The "not conservative enough" talk claim is code for "not a racist, redneck Obama hater". Look what the last eight years of uber conservatism got us into.

    Hayworth and Simcox may be attractive to some of the more radical elements of the Republican party but I believe most voters will see them as the tools that they are and reelect McCain.

    February 15, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    JD is already a shoo-in, so let's talk about something more relevant: the Global Warming Hoax!

    Al Gore must return his Oscar and Nobel prizes immediately, and go straight to Washington for congressional hearings on the international fraud of this environmental scam job, which has cost millions of jobs and trillions in unwarrented tax programs and non-productive spending. Meanwhile Al sits in his 35,000 sq ft mansion and flies in his private jets counting his billions. He should be in prison...

    February 15, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. Susan

    I hope that McCain loses primary to Hayworth because Hayworth will definitely loose the election to a Democratic challenger.
    Hayworth is a hardcore right winger and tea bagger.

    February 15, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. JD

    I'd much rather have J.D. Hayworth representing me and mine than that so-called "maverick" liberal McCain. Whenever push came to shove, McCain always sided with the Democrats and thumbed his nose at conservative principles.

    So long, McCain! And good riddance!

    February 15, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Danny

    Serves him right for unleashing Sarah "the bulldog in lipstick" Palin on our country!

    February 15, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. katiec

    From what I have read, this man is even worse than Limbaugh, Beck in his extremism.
    Although I agree Mccain has more than ran his course, we most certainly do not need an extreme radidal right to replace him.

    February 15, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. Terry from West Texas

    Conservative voters are suckers. They listen to the same rhetoric year after year after year: smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, a "protect marriage" amendment, a flag burning amendment, small town values, fundamentalist Protestant values, etc. They march to the polls and elect their candidates, who never even make an effort to implement the the things they promised and who never even intended to.

    The plain truth is that Conservative leaders are the sock puppets of wealthy Americans and global corporations. Their real goal in politics is to prevent government from taking any action of any kind. Government costs money, which comes from taxes, and billionaires hate taxes.

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Fool me 500 times over fifty years and I must be a Conservative voter.

    February 15, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. Seattle Sue

    Hayworth put the knife in McCain's back and twisted it all the while praising McCain. I hope both of these losers lose and lose big time to a Democrat.

    February 15, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. FM

    Why not Sarah campaign for her fellow Conservative Talk Show like herself!!!! This woman knows very well how to hook up those who follow the direction of wind.

    February 15, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. Kate

    McCain has been in too long, but I am not sure we need a conservative like Hayworth. Conservatism will eventually destroy us. This is a gov of the peope, by the people, and FOR the people. We are to take care of our people, that is what we pay taxes for. We get almost nothing for our taxes. Other countries are outpreforming us because of our CONSERVATISM here. The conservatives have turned into a party of no no no. Being conservative is a ME thing...just only me that counts and look where it has gotten us.

    February 15, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Anonymous

    What c choice for Airizona, a superannuated nut job who picked Mrs Palin or a hawkish, right wing nut job who lost his house seat last time out...

    The gop has indeed fallen on hard times. Woe is the party of Lincoln

    February 15, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. Phil T. Listener

    "John no longer represents the common sense conservative philosophy that most Arizonans share".

    I'm sure Joe the Plumber will second Hayworth's sentiment.

    Unfortunately it seems as though Johnny boy is the lesser of two evils for the republican party.

    Can a democrat actually take that seat?

    February 15, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Ender

    Hayworth's Web page bills him as "The Consistent Conservative,"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Don't they all now? Problem is, none of the republicans are "conservative".

    I wish the republicans would stop pretending to be something they are not.

    And before you other "conservatives" start qrousing you need to shut your traps also.

    The VAST majority of Americans are in no way, shape, or for "conservative" even tho so many of you stand up and claim you are.

    Stop pretending you are something you are not.

    February 15, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Gary's Opinion

    I like John McCain, but it's not about Republicans or Democrats....its about fiscal responsibility. No one owns a Senate seat. We need Senators with courage who will cut spending. Stop taking money from the hardest working Americans (and from our grandchildren) to give to lazy Americans who will not work. We need to get everyone working. No one should get a check without working.....Healthy people age 70 can work! 75% of people on disability can work! 50% of welfare recipients are chronically on it even in the good economic times and should work! You can't run a country when only half of the population works. It's not my opinion, its simple math.....get people to work and you'll get re-elected Sen McCain!!!!

    February 15, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. J.Crobuzon

    This guy seems like a loon, but after the Palin debacle McCain is so obviously too old and sick to be in office. He's disoriented and foggy, and he's already cost me a $50 bet by still being alive on Inauguration Day. Someone will beat him, and it will probably be another loony Republican.

    February 15, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Wilson

    McCain should lose in 2010, for nothing more than his very, very poor decision in selecting Palin to be his running mate in 2008! His judgement is POOR!

    February 15, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Irma in North Carolina

    I do hope Mccain gets booted out of office, he brought disaster to this country with Palin on his ticket. I also hope all the hispanic will vote against him as he would not approve the new judge. But i do hope a democrat gets in. We need to whittle down the party of no.

    February 15, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  21. GOP = "I hoe he fails"

    These AM radio nut-jobs, and all there extremist nut-job listeners don't realize how nut-job they are.

    February 15, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. DD

    I want to know who the democrate is. in the state running for office. I don't understand why the republicans are getting so much coverage.

    February 15, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Hugo

    Retire Senator McCain, it is time for a new guard...

    February 15, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. diridi

    I think America needs to set the term limits to these senators seats too. All the old Junk needs to be replaced by new generation of kids. Old junk like Joe Leiberman, Mccain, and Mitch Mcconnol do not have any brains, nor talk any sense....God Bless you America, replace this old junk.....in politics...Kids of new generation need to be in politics, with honesty, integrity, and enthusiasm....

    February 15, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. alex lyrics

    OUT WITH THE OLD

    Oh did I say that? YES

    OUT WITH THE OLD PEOPLE IN CONGRESS AND THE SENATE

    With their Stall tacs and lies

    Democrates RULE at least we don't go around lying and scaring people to death for nothing

    February 15, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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