John McCain and J.D. Hayworth in Dead Heat in Rasmussen Poll, but Will Foghorn Leghorn Take the Plunge?

John McCain999.jpg
Could J.D. eat McCain's lunch? The Rasmussen poll suggests that it's a possibility.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll just out shows KFYI lip-flapper and former congressman J.D. Hayworth in a dead heat with U.S. Senator John McCain for the 2010 GOP primary nod. Hayworth is within the 4 percent margin of error, trailing McCain 43 to 45 percent with likely Republican primary voters.

That's a little too close for comfort for McCain and for anyone who remembers Hayworth's buffoonish performance as a congressman from Arizona's fifth district until he was bested by Democrat Harry Mitchell in 2006. Hayworth's Southern accent, which he has labored unsuccessfully to lose over the years, earned him the nickname "Foghorn Leghorn," by detractors. The former sportscaster was born and raised in my home state of North Carolina, you see.

Hayworth is a committed right-wing extremist, and a darling of Arizona's anti-Mexican nativist knuckledragging crowd. He regularly bashes the undocumented on his afternoon drive-time radio show, and hosted the popular hate-Obama tax day tea party at the Arizona Capitol earlier this year. In 2007, he spoke at a nativist rally where neo-Nazi J.T. Ready also spoke. In his remarks, Ready called Hayworth and now state Senator (then state Representative) Russell Pearce "statesmen."

The hate jock has also signed off on some nutty conspiracy theories on his show, doing several segments suggesting that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore ineligible to be POTUS. He even once interviewed birther wackjob and dentist Orly Taitz, referring to her as "Doctor," and treating her like a legal expert instead of the crackpot she in fact is.

Thing is, Hayworth has yet to declare his candidacy and remains coy about the possibility. The word is that he's comfortable being the tribune of the far-right locally. Also, McCain has already established a massive war chest with over $5 million in cash on hand, according to the FEC

OpenSecrets.org has him with over $27 million in hand, the bulk of it rolled over from the 2008 Presidential campaign, according to a rep of the Web site. I'm waiting on an answer from the FEC to see if he's allowed to roll that over into his Senate campaign. They're researching it.(See update below.)

Hayworth would have to play some serious catchup, fundraising-wise. But generally the rank and file of the Republican party in Arizona -- particularly in vote rich Maricopa County -- despise McCain for a whole host of reasons. They would undoubtedly champion Hayworth as their savior.

So is McCain potentially in trouble? Absolutely. And his lackluster performance against Obama in 2008 doesn't help him any.

One positive note out of this poll is the fact that Minuteman Chris Simcox is polling less than "undecided," at a mere 4 percent. Even those who share Simcox's hard-line views on immigration evidently perceive him to be a charlatan with loads of dirty laundry. Can't argue with 'em there.

UPDATE: According to FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram, McCain does have some $22 million in his General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance Fund (GELAC, for short), which is set up to meet legal and accounting fees faced from audits and what not of the 2008 campaign. However, she says McCain will not be able to use that money in his 2010 Senate run. She said that "literally" the cash he has on hand is what's in his Senate campaign fund, which is $5 million plus.  

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