The two challengers for Arizona’s Republican nomination for incumbent John McCain’s seat in the Senate squared off in the first of two televised debates Friday night. Even though McCain appears to be a cinch to win the nomination, all three looked like losers in the debate sponsored by KTVK 3Tv in Phoenix.
The contest between radio talk-show host, infomercial star, lobbyist and former pork barrel spending Rep. J.D. Hayworth and the poll-leading flip-flopper McCain included Jim Deakin, a relatively unknown candidate making his first run for public office.
What could have been a debate on the issues, and Deakin did try to stay focused on issues, was marred by the personal attacks lobbed back and forth between Hayworth and McCain. It was an hour of wasted air time that will have little or no impact on the primary’s results.
Deakin entered the race to unseat McCain, but the Navy veteran and businessman’s poll numbers are insignificant compared with McCain and Hayworth. Deakin appeared ill at ease and unprepared in front of the cameras. He likely gained little additional support from his performance and having raised less than $40,000 for his campaign, the votes he garners in the August 24 primary election will be from those unwilling to cast a ballot for either of the other candidates.
At present, Republican voters will be holding their noses as they enter the voting booth faced with a choice of casting a ballot for the lesser of three evils. A vote for Deakin is wasted because he is clearly not going to win. With Hayworth, a vote is equally wasted because he is unlikely to win and is probably the candidate the Arizona Democratic Party most wants to run against, but Democrats have not fielded a viable candidate because McCain is viewed as unbeatable as things stand today.
A vote for McCain is an uncertain bet because voters are unsure whether the candidate McCain, who is running on the popularity of the SB 1070 illegal immigration law, but once safely back in Washington, D.C. for another, and quite likely his final, term in office, McCain can turn his back on the voters and again support amnesty and other legislation promulgated by liberals on the other side of the aisle. There is no guarantee that McCain won’t be supporting legislation like this amnesty bill now working its way through congress.
A second debate will air this evening, Saturday, July 17, 2010, at 7:00pm on PBS-6 Tucson, Simulcast on Cox-88 Phoenix.
The three Republican candidates’ campaign websites with comments and links to the debate can be found at:
A link to Saturday’s live podcast of the Tucson debate can be found here.