The bully is challenging John McCain, according to this NY Times story:
Former congressman J.D. Hayworth is kicking off a campaign challenging John McCain for his Senate seat -- setting up a showdown between well-known Republicans that promises to be McCain's toughest re-election battle.
Hayworth, a conservative talk-radio host, is inaugurating his effort with a rally in Phoenix Monday morning followed by a three-day statewide tour. Conservatives in Arizona have long been skeptical of McCain, who carved out a niche as a maverick senator working with Democrats on key issues. But McCain has consistently evaded political threats from the right and lately has staked out solidly conservative positions ...
Hayworth is positioning himself as the race's reliable conservative in contrast to an erratic McCain who he says can't be trusted to support Republican values.
He's lined up big-name conservative backers including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his tough policies targeting illegal immigration, and conservative commentator Pat Buchanan.
McCain has aligned his own list of prominent conservative backers, including his former running mate Sarah Palin and recently elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, both of whom will campaign for McCain in Arizona next month. He also has the support of Arizona's GOP congressional delegation, including Rep. Trent Franks, who endorsed one of McCain's opponents in the 2008 presidential primary ...
McCain is the clear front-runner ... A former television sportscaster, Hayworth was among a wave of Republicans elected to the U.S. House in 1994. He spent the next 12 years representing his district covering part of the eastern suburbs of Phoenix and, for a time, American Indian reservations.
Democrat Harry Mitchell defeated Hayworth in 2006, winning the GOP-leaning district amid a rough national climate for Republicans and questions about Hayworth's dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Hayworth ran a conservative campaign emphasizing his opposition to illegal immigration. But he was dogged by a reputation for being an angry and bombastic partisan, highlighted by a scathing editorial in the state's largest newspaper recommending voters choose ''Mitchell over the bully.''
While this Times story has someone who has to defend herself by saying "I am not a flake" is challenging Texas-should-succeed-Perry from his right:
From the obscurity of rural Wharton County, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, Ms. Medina, a former nurse who owns a medical billing business, has become a wild card in the race for the Republican nomination. She is a factor because the primary usually attracts a low turnout, and historically its outcome is decided by about 600,000 of the most conservative voters in the state.
Recent polls have shown that Ms. Medina’s support among likely primary voters is in the double digits, and some surveys have her close to edging out Ms. Hutchison for second place.
There is a growing belief among Republican strategists here that if Ms. Medina can control the damage from Thursday’s radio gaffe, she might force a runoff. Her opponents are finding it harder to ignore her. Even her detractors acknowledged that she performed well in two televised debates, mounting fierce attacks on Mr. Perry and staking out positions to his right — no easy feat, because he is widely considered to be among the nation’s most conservative governors.
“She has proven to be a more formidable candidate than many thought,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “She showed well in the debates, because Perry and Hutchison were squabbling like schoolchildren.”
Ms. Medina comes across as an ideologue, not a political pragmatist. On the stump, she talks a lot about freedom, and she says that to her, freedom rests on private ownership of property and the right to bear arms.
“Are we going to elect people that understand freedom, or are they, in their zeal to protect us, going to destroy those very pillars of freedom?” she asks.
Ms. Medina has started to attract followers with her campaign promise to abolish property taxes, which she regards as an “assault on liberty,” and replace them with a sales tax.
Gun enthusiasts love her opposition to all federal gun laws. She won many over when she lamented in a recent debate that current law did not allow her to take her pistol, which she keeps in a zippered case in her car, into the grocery store.
Social conservatives have praised her firm opposition to abortion, an issue on which Ms. Hutchison takes a nuanced stand. People angry about illegal immigration have rallied to her cry to deploy the Texas National Guard along the border with Mexico. Mr. Perry has adopted a less hard-line approach. He opposes building border walls and efforts to cut illegal immigrants off from public education as too divisive.
Ms. Medina also appeals to state’s rights advocates who long to shift power from Washington to state legislatures. A leitmotif in her speeches is the idea that the federal government has usurped power from the states and that Texas should be able to nullify federal laws and regulations it deems unconstitutional. Her first target would be the Environmental Protection Agency, she says.
“We will tell the E.P.A., ‘You have no authority here,’ ” she told the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Mostly, however, Ms. Medina has been riding a wave of anger among conservatives who feel the federal government is spending too much to bail out banks and jump-start the economy ...
On the hustings last week, Ms. Medina took great pains to avoid being labeled out of touch, declaring to one audience after her remarks about Sept. 11 were broadcast, “I am not a flake.”
While she supports some libertarian ideas and has been a longtime supporter of Representative Ron Paul, the Texas libertarian, she hastens to point out that she is not in favor of legalizing drugs. She is also quick to defend her plan to replace property taxes with a sales tax as a practical one, though it requires sales taxes of up to 15 percent.
“I am not a crazy person,” she said. “I know we have to fund government.”