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Remember John McCain? Suddenly he's joined the bipartisan ranks of vulnerable incumbents

March 19, 2010 |  6:32 am

Republicans J D Hayworth and John McCain

Late August is a great time for a primary election in Arizona......if you're a rattlesnake and love nights where the temp plunges to 105.

But that's how long it is until whatever they call Arizona besides Hades basically elects its next senator.

Republican John McCain has been an Arizona senator since 1986. He'd like a fifth term, thank you very much.

Senate incumbents routinely win re-election nationally more than 80% of the time. So, ordinarily, you'd say Arizona would grant another term to the 73-year-old ex-representative, ex-POW, ex-presidential candidate.

After all, Obamania never quite made it into the southwest desert. In the 2008 Democratic primary the smoker lost to what's-her-name from New York, 50-42. And in the general election that year Arizona went for homeboy John even bigger, 54-45.

But this isn't an ordinary year -- for incumbents. American voters are feeling....

...beyond annoyed with anyone perceived as responsible for anything that's happened that wasn't supposed to. And judging by Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, they're looking to take it out on someone familiar.

So while the nation's attention is riveted on Obama's fight for healthcare and his wife's fight for the opposite of obesity, along comes a little-noticed telephone survey of likely Arizona voters from Rasmussen Reports.

And what they found is that after a quarter-century in the Senate and four years in the House, three months into his re-election year the presidential candidate for the Republican ticket in 2008 can't reach the benchmark 50% level for incumbents. Under 50Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer% = vulnerable.

He's being challenged in the Republican primary, which is basically the election, by J.D. Hayworth.

He's another ex-representative who'd like to move into the Senate club. Naturally, Hayworth's coming at McCain from the right, having developed a conservative state following via a talk radio show.

Rasmussen found McCain leading 48-41. Too close for comfort. But here's the bad news for McCain: The numbers are trending the wrong way. Last November the two party pals were essentially tied. In January, McCain lead by 22, 53-31.

So McCain is calling in carrier-based cover in the form of rookie Scott Brown, the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in more than three decades, to provide campaign assistance, presumably fully-clothed.

And late this month pitbull Sarah Palin will fly in to campaign with the guy who plucked her from the political obscurity of Juneau and put her in the ignominy of a losing VP candidate who never even got to give a concession speech. She's calling McCain a true American hero everywhere she goes.

Hayworth leads McCain by seven points among male Republicans and five points among self-described GOP conservatives. McCain is leading among Republican moderates and kills Hayworth by 23 points among Republican women. Hello, Sarah.

Speaking of women, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the Republican lieutenant governor who inherited the larger office when Democrat Janet Napolitano went off to fight man-caused disasters in Washington, also seems vulnerable. Rasmussen found her sitting at 47% approval eight months out with, ouch, 50% disapproval.

That bipartisan incumbent thing again.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press; Office of Gov. Brewer.

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