Former US Rep. J.D. Hayworth is now also a former KFYI-AM Phoenix talk show host. Hayworth is widely thought to be contemplating a primary challenge for the seat of John McCain (R-AZ). He hasn’t declared himself yet, but Clear Channel attorneys have advised him to cease any mentions of McCain. There is still no word on his candidacy, but he has left the station.
According to the Arizona Republic, Hayworth feels he’s been “muscled” off the air by McCain and his supporters. They are said to have complained to the FCC that Hayworth, a vocal critic of McCain, has been using his radio platform to forward his own candidacy.
Hayworth’s position as a potential candidate and his broadcast platform are creating a “gray area” which could possibly subject KFYI to equal time requests from McCain’s campaign organization.
Hayworth spokesperson Jason Rose told Arizona Republic, “It is because Senator McCain used his influence and power to intimidate a radio station and silence a conservative voice. It’s very clear that Senator McCain has been trying to get him off the air, sits on the Commerce Committee, oversees the FCC, and there was nervousness with the radio station that led to the decision today.
RBR-TVBR reported earlier that supporters of McCain were asking appropriate government agencies to look into the matter, but they deny any exercising any undue influence beyond that.
Meanwhile, a Clear Channel program exec said that Hayworth was in a murky area between “citizen” and candidate and that it was mutually decided between Hayworth and the station that it was best he leave for now so he can speak freely.
A recent Rasmussen poll shows McCain with a 53%-31% lead in a hypothetical contest with Hayworth. Back in November 2009, the margin was much closer: 45%-43%.
RBR-TVBR observation: Two points – McCain left the Commerce Committee about a year ago. And if Hayworth wasn’t thinking about running, all he needed to do was make that fact abundantly clear and continue saying whatever he wanted over the air.