McCain survives Tea Party elections surge
Published 26/08/2010 | 05:00
John McCain has survived the surge in support for Tea Party candidates, by winning his senate primary election, after jettisoning his position as a moderate Republican and spending $21m (€17m) to see off the most serious challenge faced in his long career.
His victory in the Arizona Republican primary, by a margin of 2 to 1 over the conservative talk-show host JD Hayworth showed how hard incumbents are having to work to hang on to power amid deep disillusion with the state of the economy, and anger at Washington's heavy spending.
Mr McCain is now the overwhelming favourite to win a fifth six-year term in the senate when mid-term elections are held in November. Forecasting that Republicans would win back control of Congress, he said: "This will be a consequential election, no one should have any doubt about that."
Early in his campaign, Mr McCain recognised that he had a tough fight on his hands, as a vocal minority in the Arizonan Republican party sought to punish his moderate track record.
He brought in his 2008 presidential running mate, and Tea Party favourite, Sarah Palin to speak at two rallies. Moving sharply to the Right, the senator supported the controversial new immigration law in his home state that opponents said would discriminate against legal residents of Hispanic descent.
The move was in contrast to failed legislation he had drafted in 2006 that would have provided a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants and had dismissed the effectiveness of building a fence on the US-Mexico border.
This year he filmed an advertisement with a border sheriff that delivered a message to the federal government of: "Complete the danged fence."
In a further attempt to please the party's right-wingers the senator also reversed his support for a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the forces. And he distanced himself from a measure to cap carbon emissions .
Thriving on popular anger, the Tea Party has enjoyed major successes, winning Republican Senate primaries in Nevada, Kentucky, Colorado and Utah. (© Daily Telegraph, London)