The GOP primary contest between U.S. Sen. John McCain and J.D. Hayworth, the former congressman who is now the darling of McCain's Republican detractors, continues to tighten up, according to a Rasmussen poll released last week.
The survey showed that McCain had the support of 47 percent of likely GOP voters, while 42 percent liked Hayworth.
McCain's camp has dismissed Rasmussen polls in the past, saying that internal polls had Arizona's senior senator up by 20 points. A Daily Kos survey conducted at the end of last month showed McCain had a 15-point advantage, with the support of 52 percent of Republican voters; Hayworth had the support of 37 percent.
Whatever the numbers are, McCain is taking Hayworth's challenge seriously. (Well, except when he released that hysterical YouTube video last week making fun of Hayworth's birther pandering and comments about man-on-horse marriage. If you haven't seen it, you can find it on The Range.)
McCain is aggressively crisscrossing the state ahead of the Aug. 24 GOP primary to secure his base—which tells us that he knows he has to worry about his reputation in conservative circles.
While McCain is now slipping into the default position on just about every issue that GOP conservatives fret over (immigration, global warming and taxes, just to name a few), McCain still has to worry about many people on the right who just don't trust him anymore. And he doesn't do his credibility much good when he says things like, "I never considered myself a maverick."
Rasmussen also informed us that McCain and Hayworth as of now would both handily defeat Democrat Rodney Glassman, the former Tucson City Council member who hopes to pull off the upset of a lifetime in what appears to be shaping up as a Republican year.
Glassman would pick up 32 percent of the vote against McCain's 52 percent. That's a pretty wide gap, although the fact that McCain's support is barely more than 50 percent is rather revealing. (Eight percent wouldn't vote for either one, and 6 percent are undecided.)
It's a closer race against Hayworth, who would get the support of 48 percent of voters compared to Glassman's 39 percent.
Keep in mind that Glassman is pretty much unknown outside of Tucson. Just 8 percent of voters view him very favorably, while 14 percent view him very unfavorably, according to the Rasmussen poll.
Speaking of favorability ratings: McCain is viewed very favorably by 20 percent of Arizona voters, while he's viewed very unfavorably by 21 percent. Meanwhile, 30 percent of voters view Hayworth very unfavorably, and only 16 percent view him very favorably.
The Rasmussen poll also reports that 57 percent of Arizona voters believe that the Obama administration's health-care-reform package will hurt the country, while just 32 percent say it will be good for the country.
The polling company says that 63 percent of Arizona voters favor repealing the package, which could be bad news for Glassman if the issue is front and center in the Senate campaign. That's a higher percentage than the 56 percent nationwide who want to repeal the measure.
Only 33 percent of Arizona voters are opposed to repealing it.
Those numbers could spell trouble for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she seeks her third term.
Rasmussen also brought us numbers showing that Gov. Jan Brewer was starting to pull ahead of her GOP rivals in advance of the Aug. 24 primary.
Brewer still had lousy numbers, with only 26 percent of Republicans supporting her in the crowded primary. But she was out ahead of shooting-range owner Buz Mills (18 percent), attorney John Munger (14 percent) and Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin (12 percent).
Still, the race remains in flux, with nearly one in four Republican voters still undecided.
An earlier Rasmussen poll had put Brewer in a three-way tie with Mills and Martin, with each holding about 20 percent of voter support.
Brewer continues to split the GOP electorate, with 54 percent approving of the job she's doing, and 44 percent disapproving.
By the way: We're getting our first local debate among the Republicans running for governor this year, courtesy of the Sabino High School Young Republicans and the Eastside Republicans.
Martin, Mills, Munger and political unknown Matt Jette will be onstage at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 23, at Sabino High's auditorium, 5000 N. Bowes Road. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The end of the legislative session is rapidly approaching. We can tell, because lawmakers are getting serious about restoring those health-care cuts that could cost the state $7 billion a year in federal matching funds.
Our lawmakers have been attending to a lot of business in recent days, like passing SB 1070, the illegal-immigration omnibus legislation that will require local cops to ask about the immigration status of people they believe may be in the country illegally.
That will make it much less likely that illegal immigrants who witness crimes will come forward to talk to cops. And it will also make them easy prey for real criminals, but we doubt the Republicans who backed this bill really give a shit about that, as long as they can pander to voters with a line about how tough they are on border security.
Lawmakers have also removed any legal barriers to carrying a concealed weapon, as long as you don't have a criminal record. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill last week.
Many of the other bills that we've been following throughout the session have died, but a few have been making progress. For a full update, visit The Range's bill-tracking project, The Blogislature.
As we point out in our feature slot this week (see Page 16), the state will be in a world of hurt if voters don't pass Proposition 100, the temporary one-cent-per-dollar sales tax that's on the ballot on May 18.
Supporters of Prop 100 are holding a forum this week to look at the various disasters that will strike the state if voters reject the prop next month.
Among those on hand: Dr. Rainer W.G. Gruessner, head of the UA Department of Surgery, will talk about cuts to health care and why that's going to hurt the hospitals we all depend on; Steve MacCarthy, UA vice president for external relations, will talk about the impact of budget cuts on the universities; Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry will talk about how property taxes will have to increase if the state continues to push expenses onto the counties; Sue Krahe and Penelope Jacks will talk about how more cuts will hurt families and kids; and Ron Shoopman, of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, will talk about why the business community believes that failing to pass the sales tax will make it harder to recruit and retain employers in Pima County.
The forum is from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, April 22—the day this issue officially hits the streets—at the Tucson Association of Realtors headquarters, 2445 N. Tucson Blvd.
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