PHOENIX, AZ -- Ex-Rep. JD Hayworth began using robocalls Friday in anticipation of his upcoming announcement that he will be running against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the Arizona Republican primary for 2010. The candidates have been ramping up for a fierce, no-holds-barred primary challenge, and the mud-slinging is already underway.
Both McCain and Hayworth have been making the rounds on radio and television over the last week after Hayworth resigned from his job as a talk radio host to prepare for his run against McCain. Hayworth's resignation from radio was a result of an FEC complaint filed by McCain's former chief of staff, Grant Woods. In December, a firm previously connected to McCain conducted a push-poll that tied Hayworth to convicted-felon Jack Abramoff. McCain says he is taking the race very seriously.
After Hayworth's resignation last Friday, both McCain and Hayworth have been making the rounds on radio and television to bash each other and tout their own credentials. McCain is attacking Hayworth as a pork-barrel spender and tying him to Abramoff, while Hayworth is attacking McCain as a career politician who is out of touch with conservative Arizona values.
Hayworth's robocall says 28 years is too long for anyone to serve in Congress and refers to the upcoming race as "a great debate":
Hi. This is JD Hayworth calling. If you share my opinion that John McCain has admirably served our country but that 28 years in Washington is just too long, then I want you to know that I will soon be announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate. Arizona's Republicans deserve a choice and alternative to Senator McCain's moderate record on taxes, social issues, the border, and bailing out the banks. I will be a consistent, faithful conservative that you can rely on to put Arizona first. This is going to be a great debate, and I need you. Please get involved by going to JD2010.com.
Although Hayworth lost his seat to Harry Mitchell in 2006, Hayworth has garnered widespread enthusiasm and support through the popularity of his local radio show and through his support of Tea Party events and organizations. When McCain spoke at the Arizona Republican Party Committee meeting this past Saturday, he was met with a mixture of applause, boos and chants of "JD! JD! JD!"
Meanwhile, the Democratic contender, Vice Mayor Rodney Glassman, is staying out of the fray but seems to be ramping up his own campaign. Glassman, who announced today that he is going on a listening tour across Arizona, told HuffPost that what Arizona needs is a senator who does more listening and less shouting.
"Arizona is really struggling, and it's sad to see how much McCain and Hayworth are focusing on one another when they could be putting that energy into listening to the people and helping our state," said Glassman, "Our state is in desperate need of a US Senator who will put Arizona first, and not focus on their personal ambition.
Follow Dawn Teo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dawnteo