The primary system in Arizona is closed, and that may be a problem for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). He recently represented his party in the national presidential election, but may have trouble representing it again for the Senate seat he now holds.
In Arizona, only those registered to a given party may vote in its primary. The electorate there is said to be split fairly evenly among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
The problem for McCain is the tendency of Republicans to run hard to the right of late. That plays well for presumed challenger J.D. Hayworth, who has solid experience as a former member of the state’s US House of Representatives delegation, and who has a daily platform up and running as a radio talk show host on Clear Channel’s KFYI in Phoenix.
It may hurt McCain, whose maverick tendencies play well in a general election, where he pulls strong support from independents. But the independents cannot vote for him in the primary, and he may have trouble with some Republican voters, particularly if it issue focus turns toward immigration.
But McCain will go into the primary with significant advantages, particularly in cash and name recognition. Add to that the fact that Minuteman founder Chris Simcox is definitely running, whether Hayworth does or not, and may cause a vote split to McCain’s right.
But observers won’t be surprised if an Arizona Republican Senate primary generates some heat.