John McCain defeats JD Hayworth in Arizona primary
Former presidential candidate John McCain has defeated a challenge from a Right-wing fellow Republican after making a U-turn in his stance on immigration.
After seeing off JD Hayworth, a former Congressman, comfortably in Tuesday night’s primary, Senator McCain is now almost certain to be elected to the Senate for the fifth time in November’s midterm elections.
The Arizona primary was among several that pitted old guard politicians against insurgent candidates who often held more radical views.
In Florida, former congressman Kendrick Meek won the Democratic Senate primary with help from both President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
His victory over Jeff Greene, a billionaire running as an outsider who spent $20m (€15.8m) on his campaign, showed voters' faith in traditional candidates.
Bucking the trend, Jeffery Miller, a favourite of the Right-wing activist Tea Party movement who was backed by former Governor Sarah Palin, was narrowly leading Lisa Murkowski, the sitting senator, in Alaska's Republican primary. Analysts said voter anger over a struggling economy, job losses and spiralling deficits had hurt Sen Murkowski.
Sen McCain’s victory also showed that long-time Republicans could demonstrate staying their power, though major compromises were sometimes required.
Early in the campaign polls showed that Mr Hayworth, now a popular talk show host in Arizona, could have pulled off one of the greatest shocks the Republicans had ever seen.
Having once written a failed law that proposed a path to citizenship for the country’s 12 million illegal immigrants, an under-pressure Sen McCain came out in support of Arizona’s tough new immigration law that critics said would discriminate against legal Hispanic residents.
The rhetoric turned angry when Mr Hayworth criticised Sen McCain's changed position on immigration and border security.
"You’re no longer a statesman, you’re simply a political shape shifter," Mr Hayworth said at a campaign debate last month. "Shame on you."
Sen McCain's campaign struck back, repeatedly pointing to ties between Mr Hayworth and Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was imprisoned on conspiracy and tax evasion charges in 2006.
The senator also spent more than $20m (€15.8m) to produce hard-hitting ads that described Hayworth as a huckster.
Elsewhere in Arizona, ten Republicans were vying for the nomination in the third congressional district, including Ben Quayle, the 33-year old son of former Vice President Dan Quayle. Mr Qualie was poised early on Wedensday to win the primary, placing him in prime position for his family's launch back into national politics.
Governor Jan Brewer was expected to cruise to an easy primary victory, defying those who wrote her off as unelectable after a state fiscal crisis by winning massive support for the tough bill targeting illegal immigrants