Tomorrow is primary day in four states, and runoff elections occur in a fifth.
Alaska: The Senate GOP primary featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Palin-backed Joe Miller is one of those races I’ve been meaning to take a look at, although it’s entirely possible — in fact, likely — that we’ll get the predictable win by the incumbent. There hasn’t been a ton of polling, and Alaska seems like one of the tougher states to poll; what little polling there is shows Murkowski ahead comfortably. It’s not unthinkable that Miller could get some traction, but it’s not yet clear that Alaska Republicans see Murkowski as an unacceptable squish on par with Arlen Specter or Charlie Crist. She has a lifetime ACU rating of 70. (The Power Line guys examined whether Murkowski rates as a “RINO” here.)
Arizona: Earlier this year, the John McCain-J. D. Hayworth fight in the Arizona Senate primary looked like one of this cycle’s clashes of the titans, but Hayworth hasn’t really been able to get within striking distance.
In Arizona’s 3rd congressional district, John Shadegg is retiring, and a crowd of Republicans (10!) seek to fill his shoes. The most famous name belongs to the son of a former vice president, with a rather odd commercial:
Somebody’s going to be sent to knock the hell out of Washington, but it’s probably going to be Pamela Gorman, Steven Moak, Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, or former state senator Jim Waring. (If Gorman doesn’t win, the winner ought to hire her for security.)
In Arizona’s 8th, it’s a simpler but no less hard-fought GOP primary. Former state senator Jonathan Paton is the fund-raising leader and establishment choice, but Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly is coming on strong. A mid-July poll showed Paton with a one-percentage-point lead over incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.
Florida: In the Sunshine State’s statewide races, we know four of the big six candidates. The Senate race will feature Republican Marco Rubio, independent Charlie Crist, and an underdog Democrat. Right now, that Democrat appears to be Kendrick Meek, who is coming back against Jeff Greene, who has spent a king’s ransom in his bid. (More on the impact of negative ads in that race here.)
In the governor’s race, the Democrat will be Alex Sink, the independent will be Lawton Chiles III, and the Republican will be either health-care executive and anti-Obamacare activist Rick Scott or state attorney general Bill McCollum. McCollum appears to be enjoying a surge, in the Mason-Dixon and the Quinnipiac poll.
There are a couple of interesting House primaries in Florida. In the 8th district, every Republican and their brother is itching to take on an infamous incumbent. The likely favorite is former state senator Daniel Webster (Republican–Winter Garden) but he’s facing a strong push from state representative Kurt Kelly (Republican–Ocala). The winner faces off against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (Troll–Daily Kos).
In the 24th district, incumbent Democrat Suzanne Kosmas looked beatable even before her vote for health-care reform and more job losses on Florida’s Space Coast. If former Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain CEO Craig Miller wins the primary, I will require an immediate catered interview. A bit behind in fundraising are state representative Sandy Adams and Winter Park vice mayor Karen Diebel.
Oklahoma runoff: Republicans in two House districts will vote in runoffs. In the eastern 2nd district, Charles Thompson, Jr. received 34 percent in the July 27 primary; Daniel Edmonds received 28 percent. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat Dan Boren, a well-established conservative Democrat. However, in a year like this in a district that scores R+14, nothing is guaranteed.
In the Oklahoma City–based 5th district, the current congresswoman, Republican Mary Fallin, is running for governor; former state representative Kevin Calvey and James Lankford finished within two percentage points of each other in the primary’s first round and face off tomorrow for the GOP nomination. In this R+13 district, the winner will be heavily favored to win in November.
Vermont: There are five Democrats battling it out for their gubernatorial nomination; the GOP has avoided a primary and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie will be the nominee.
Sen. Pat Leahy is up for reelection; Len Britton faces the tough task of trying to knock off the longtime incumbent.
Hayworth is, to say the least, not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain. On one of the most pressing issues of the day — the need to control federal spending — McCain has had the better record. That Hayworth appeared in infomercials to tell people how to get “free money” from the government underscores the point rather emphatically.
If McCain had a different challenger, we might think differently. But, taken together, these considerations move us to suggest that Arizona Republicans nominate Senator McCain. If ever we needed legislators who favor a resolute foreign policy and budget restraint, that time is now.
A lot of McChrystal stuff in this morning’s Jolt, but a second look at what people are saying about one of the weirder political stories of the day:
Billy Mays, Vince Offer . . . J. D. Hayworth
Oh, J. D. Hayworth. What are we going to do with you?
Phil Klein: “I understand why many Arizona Republicans would want to dump John McCain for a more conservative Senator, but I’ve never understood those who argue that J. D. Hayworth is the conservative who should replace McCain. Hayworth, after all, was a top recipent of donations linked to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and was a reliable vote for President Bush’s big government agenda. The weakness of Hayworth’s claim to be a small government conservative was brought into sharper focus with the release of this 2007 infomercial that Hayworth recorded for the National Grants Conference, which offers seminars on how to people can get free money from government through grants.”
Over at the Standard, John McCormick thinks this spells the end of a campaign that had gotten some traction but still trailed by a significant margin: “How long until the McCain campaign photoshops Hayworth’s head on Matthew Lesko’s body? More importantly, how does Hayworth survive this?”
The Left Coast Rebel is now contemplating a candidate with big round ears: “I am a diehard McCain hater so where does that put me? I’ll never forget 2007′s McCain/Bush/Kennedy amnesty among other McCain injustices. He should never be reelected even if that means writing in ‘Mickey Mouse’ instead.”
The Arizona Republicquotes a Hayworth spokesman as saying he only did one commercial, but I think one misstep is all it takes to do the damage. Put aside the claims that these seminars are a scam, charging folks $999 to $1,200 for publicly available information and greatly exaggerating the availability of the federal grants. The Hayworth campaign tells NRO the former congressman has no regrets. Really, J. D.? Really? Not one iota of contemplation that maybe a former United States congressman should not be appearing in ads telling people that the federal government is just full of money and that they should be asking for more of it, at least not if he ever plan on running for office again on a platform of controlling spending and fiscal conservatism?!?
Beyond that, the ad is so tacky it makes those “Real Housewives” series look classy. You’re a U.S. congressman, you’re supposed to be above these sorts of things. After you leave Congress, you’re supposed to make your money the old-fashioned, honest way: writing a book no one will read, teaching a class that is only for the most diehard of political geeks, trading on your connections with a fat-cat, Gucci-wearing lobbying firm, and in the case of former Ohio congressman Jim Traficant, making license plates. If we have congressman popping up in infomercials, next thing you know we’ll have the President of the United States appearing in commercials for late-night shows.
It appears the Senate campaign of J. D. Hayworth has hit a bump in the road. A big one:
Republican Senate challenger J. D. Hayworth appeared in a 2007 television infomercial in which he helped convince viewers that they could rake in big bucks by attending seminars that would teach them how to apply for federal grants that they wouldn’t have to pay back.
National Grants Conferences, the Florida-based company that hosted the classes and produced the informercial, has faced criticism from multiple state attorneys general and Better Business Bureaus. Hayworth, a former Arizona congressman who is running against incumbent Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Aug. 24 GOP primary, made the infomercial after losing his U.S. House seat in the 2006 election. References to his TV appearance on behalf of National Grants Conferences appear in his Wikipedia entry, on the Internet Movie Database and other places on the Web. But the footage was unavailable. Highlights of Hayworth’s appearance are now posted on YouTube.com at this link.
The infomercial promotes seminars that ostensibly instruct attendees how to get the “free money grants.” Tucson TV station KVOA did an investigation of National Grants Conferences that you can watch here. The TV station’s investigative team found that the workshops cost from $999 to $1,200 and federal government grants really aren’t even available to individuals.
Did I say bump? Maybe I meant ditch. Ten-car pile-up? Spontaneous campaign combustion?
Tackiness aside . . . just to clarify, a guy claiming to be a fiscal conservative appeared in an infomercial urging folks to go to the government for grants to “send your kids to the best schools, buy your first home, renovate your house, become an investor, build wealth, and plan for a happy, secure retirement!” Urgh.
The National Rifle Association endorsed John McCain Thursday in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary . . .
Hayworth has attacked McCain’s record on gun rights, saying the four-term Senator has supported restrictive legislation. Hayworth touts an endorsement from Gun Owners of America, a smaller gun-rights lobbying group. The NRA endorsed McCain in three of his four previous runs for the U.S. Senate, but it stayed out of his race in 2004 against a little-known Democrat. The organization endorsed Hayworth in at least six of his seven U.S. House races.
One way of interpreting this is that the NRA likes the fact that high percentages of the candidates they endorse win election, and thus don’t endorse a lot of underdog challengers. While Hayworth has gained, recent polls put McCain up by about 12. While a certain segment of conservatives have had enough with Maverick, he’s been pretty solid on the gun issue.