KFYI Phoenix talker and former US Rep J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) left the Clear Channel station earlier this year in order to stop criticizing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) over the air and instead, challenge him for his US Senate seat. He is not likely to win that challenge, but he did get McCain to spend millions with broadcasters to defend the seat.
Polling suggests that the upcoming primary vote is not going to be close, with McCain on top – and in large part, it will be due to the $20M plus McCain spent on the primary campaign.
Much of McCain’s early spending was placed on Hayworth’s own radio station, with a great deal going to television.
Hayworth was not able to match McCain’s warchest, and had a broadcasting foible of his own to deal with – an appearance in a controversial informercial several years ago offering classes on how to get “free money” from the government.
The Arizona primary is on tap Tuesday 8/24/10. Whoever wins on the Republican side, and just about everybody believes that person will be McCain, is widely expected to coast to victory in November.
McCain has a long history with broadcasters due to his lengthy tenure on the Senate Commerce Committee, including a stint as chairman. He was an outspoken foe of both the NAB and the NCTA, but has since moved on to other committee assignments, including oversight of military matters, and has not been at the forefront of broadcast issues on the Hill in the last couple of years.
RBR-TVBR observation: In a normal political cycle, with an average senator on the ballot, a long-time incumbent would not face a primary, and normally would not even face a serious threat in November. The fact that McCain went from presidential candidate to fighting for his political life in his own state is an amazing testimonial to the seriousness of Hayworth’s challenge, even if it is going to fall short.