Former US Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who even more recently added being a Talker on Clear Channel’s KFYI-AM Phoenix to his list of former jobs, says he is 99 and 44/100s percent certain to mount a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Attorneys familiar with the situation say they understand why Hayworth’s daily commentary was starting to make Clear Channel a little nervous.
The Arizona Republic said that Hayworth would use his 4PM-7PM radio platform to criticize McCain for excessive liberalism. Nothing wrong with that – it’s an m.o. right out of the Rush Limbaugh playbook.
However, Hayworth would then offer hints that he was thinking of challenging McCain for the Senate seat.
McCain allies said that getting three hours of free airtime as a quasi-candidate amounted to a like-kind campaign contribution from Clear Channel. And the people they were making this case to were the FCC and FEC.
USC law professor Matthew Spitzer told AR, “If I was the station management, I would have been nervous, too. If the guy has essentially become a candidate, then there are a ton of rules that you have to follow.”
The station initially asked Hayworth to refrain from discussing McCain, but after only a couple of days, Hayworth and KFYI mutually agreed that he could do his job effectively with even a partial muzzle on.
McCain is taking the Hayworth challenge seriously, and has also used KFYI to get his message out – but he did it the old-fashioned way, by buying advertising time.