PHOENIX -- In 1994, when first running for Congress, J.D. Hayworth, who today is 51 and trying to wrest from John McCain, 73, the Arizona Republican Party's Senate nomination, went jogging in Washington wearing a T-shirt given to him by some Arizona loggers. Federal solicitude for the supposedly endangered spotted owl was bedeviling the timber industry, and Hayworth's shirt read: "If two teenagers can procreate in the back seat of a Volkswagen, why does a spotted owl need 2,000 acres?" Hayworth's jog intersected President Clinton's, so Hayworth subsequently told the loggers he had "run your message past the president." Hayworth's middle name is not Nuance.
Washed into Washington by the 1994 Republican wave, he was washed out in 2006 by a Democratic wave. Born in North Carolina, he is a burly ex-football player for North Carolina State. Having been a television sportscaster here before entering politics, Hayworth bounced from defeat to a talk radio station. There he put his flair for rhetorical fireworks in the service of his favorite causes, two of which are stopping illegal immigration and deploring the insufficiencies of McCain's conservatism. Those insufficiencies include, Hayworth says, opposition to the Bush tax cuts, and support for bailouts and for what Hayworth characterizes as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.
McCain, who has a flair for umbrage, felt some about another Hayworth cause -- a possible Hayworth Senate candidacy. So McCain, whose pugnacity is part of his charm, for those who are charmed, went after Hayworth with tactics that reminded other people why they are not charmed. The co-author of the McCain-Feingold restrictions on political speech asked the Federal Election Commission to silence Hayworth.
Although Hayworth was not yet a candidate, McCain argued that he was receiving from the station's owner an illegal "corporate in-kind contribution" of "as much as" $540,000 a week, a figure concocted by pricing Hayworth's 15 hours per week at the rate advertisers would pay for 1,800 30-second spots. Hayworth spared his station the litigation costs by becoming a candidate.