The leading Republican candidates for Arizona governor and U.S. Senate nominations have commanding leads in their races. Incumbents, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Janet Brewer, appear unbeatable with a month to go before the primary election. The situation does not sit well with all the state’s Republican voters.
Most grating to voters is McCain polling well in front of his opponent, former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth. The campaign ads and public speeches of both candidates consist of attacks on each others’ political and professional conduct. McCain is a flip-flopper who needs to retire, says Hayworth. McCain counters that Hayworth is a pork-barrel lobbyist and a shill.
A pair of televised debates between the two has finally been slated for July 16 and 17. Voters want to see the candidates debate the merits of what they hope to accomplish for Arizona and the country. Arizonans already know the past political records of both men and many Republicans are dissatisfied. Expectations for substantial debates are low.
“I want to hear them say what they’re going to do and that they won’t change their minds after they get elected. I don’t want to hear how bad the opponent is again and again,” said a friend of mine, a former Vietnam POW who stood with McCain during his first unsuccessful run for president. He’s part of a growing cadre who refuse to vote for McCain, but believe a vote for Hayworth is futile.
Hayworth needs a miracle to win the primary, but the Democrats don’t believe he’s got a chance. Party financial support for the four Dem. candidates, investigative reporter John Dougherty, former City Councilman Rodney Glassman, labor organizer Randy Parraz and former state lawmaker Cathy Eden, is almost non-existent. The winner of the Democratic primary would prefer a run against Hayworth, but that fact enhances McCain’s support.
When Buz Mills tossed his hat in the ring for the governor’s race, nobody knew much about the business man who is “not a politician.” He’s running against Jan Brewer, a popular incumbent with a long political record.
On the issues of border security, SB 1070, illegal immigration and Second Amendment rights there are scant few differences between the two. Mills appeals to voters who favor smaller government, reduced spending, debt reduction and jobs creation. Brewer supported a sales tax increase 34 percent of the state’s voters approved in a recent special election, and she has failed to rein in state spending or reduce unemployment substantially.
Democratic State Attorney General Terry Goddard, a long shot for re-election to that position is unlikely to unseat Brewer. Like McCain. Brewer gains from the Democratic preference to face the relatively unknown Mills instead of a popular incumbent.
Mills could well be the candidate the state needs to turn Arizona’s financial malaise around, but his lackluster poll numbers, 16-percent vs. Brewer’s 61-percent, indicate he is a viable candidate running in the wrong election year.