Lightning-rod issues such as immigration and border security have candidates in Arizona scrambling to position themselves as right of their opponents.
Party primaries in Arizona Tuesday pit longtime U.S. Sen. John McCain against firebrand J.D. Hayworth, both Republicans trying to woo votes with get-tough immigration language.
Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who took over the ship of state when Janet Napolitano joined the Obama administration as Homeland Security secretary, is running for re-election with a huge advantage -- she signed the state's immigration law that allows police officers to demand documentation from detainees they suspect may be in the country illegally. Portions of that law have been stayed as questions of its constitutionality work their way through the court system.
Brewer is unafraid to chastise those critical of the state's stringent approach to illegal immigrants -- calling criticism and lawsuits misguided and wrong-headed while saying her state's just doing what the feds can't. And the national polls back her up.
Secretary of State documents indicate Terry Goddard doesn't face a challenger on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket, but Brewer is challenged by Matthew Jette and Buz Mills.
McCain moved to the right from a more moderate approach to addressing the complicated immigration issue while Hayworth, with his fiery oratory, came on like gangbusters when the 2010 primary season was in its infancy, but has since cooled. Rasmussen Reports indicated recently McCain had a 20-point lead over Hayworth.
No matter that McCain -- the party's standard-bearer in the 2008 presidential election -- has all-but abandoned his maverick moniker in favor of a more stable conservative stance, Tea Party supporters still rip him for supporting the bank bailout legislation in the midst of an election year, The Daily Caller reported.
"It was, we believe, a unique opportunity for the sinking Republican ticket to revive its standing with the American people and distinguish itself from a discredited Republican establishment," wrote former House leader Dick Armey and co-author Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, in "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto."
A national broadcaster called the Senate primary between Arizona Democrats Randy Parraz and Rodney Glassman "the primary to watch," The Huffington Post said. The broadcaster cited Parraz's "message, momentum, and support" as the reason for his "dead heat" with presumed front-runner Glassman, saying "Latinos, the (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community and many independents" are breaking for Parraz as name recognition and knowledge about the candidates grows.
Of course, a Glassman comment that sitting "next to an openly gay council member" would be the toughest matter facing him when he was newly elected to the Tucson City Council and a remark that he hires women because he'd "rather surround myself with hot chick" didn't do him any favors, either, the Post said.
In Arizona's 3rd Congressional District, a furor surrounding Republican candidate Ben Quayle -- son of gaffe-prone former Vice President Dan Quayle -- has cut into his lead over other contenders, the Arizona Capitol Times said. Quayle watched his lead fade in large part because of revelations he was connected to TheDirty.com, a racy Web site that originally was DirtyScottsdale.com, a site that jabbed fun at Scottsdale nightlife.
Quayle originally denied the allegations, saying he only recommended an intellectual property attorney to the site's owner. Later, however, Quayle said he posted commentary on the site to drive traffic to it -- and that the original version was far different than the site it is now.
After the story broke, GOP candidate Steve Moak morphed Quayle's fall into frontrunner status for himself, and former state Sen. Jim Waring isn't far behind. However, the Capital Times said lack of funding has hurt Waring's campaign and he can't compete money-wise with Moak and Quayle.
In the 8th Congressional District, pundits expected former state Sen. Jonathan Paton to have a easy road to the Republican nomination, but found an unexpected challenge from U.S. Marine Veteran Jesse Kelly instead, the Capital Times said.
The newspaper also reported former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert essentially declared victory in the 5th Congressional District GOP primary, trimming his advertising budget to gird for the general election match-up with incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell.
Tell that to Schweikert's main opponents -- businessman Jim Ward and former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Susan Bitter Smith -- who say the nomination is still undetermined.