Instead of getting all worked up about JD Hayworth...

if you want to watch Arizona politics here’s a race that actually will make a difference.  Hayworth v McCain will not, and hopefully the folks who post here who live in Arizona have driven a stake through the heart of that foolishness yesterday.

From today’s Arizona Repugnant,

State Sen. Jonathan Paton told the Insider he has been heavily lobbied to get into the 8th Congressional District contest against Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,and is “giving it some thought.”

The race has been seen up to now as Giffords’ to lose against little-known Republican challengers Jesse Kelly and Andy Goss.

Paton, R-Tucson, was elected to three terms in the state House and Senate and took the lead on high-profile issues such as reform of the state’s child-welfare system and human trafficking. He’s also a U.S. Army captain and Iraq War veteran (as are Kelly and Goss).

The district favors Republicans by about 90,000 registered voters but generally swings on its more than 915,000 independents. Moderate Republican Jim Kolbe represented the district for 11 consecutive terms, retiring in 2007. Giffords has entrenched herself since then, forging a reputation for her attentiveness to the district, strong campaigning and adept fundraising. As of the end of September, she had nearly $1.4 million in her campaign account.

But Paton said he views Giffords as vulnerable given her votes in favor of President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus plan, climate-change legislation and health-care reform. Following the health-care vote, the Cook Political Report changed the 8th District from “solid” to “likely” Democrat.

Tucson pollster Margaret Kenski, a Republican, said Paton is the strongest GOP candidate that the district could muster – short of Kolbe himself entering the race.

Paton said he needs to weigh factors that are both political and personal.

Some background for non-Arizona residents would be appropriate. First, understand that the Tucson area is the Arizona equivalent of Berkeley. It is very liberal. And not in a “liberal” in a Conservative state way, the wackos from Berkeley would be right at home in Tucson. John Kolbe, who represented the district for a zillion years was the the first openly gay member of Congress. Conservative he was not. Giffords replaced Kolbe in ’08 and she’s a clone of Nancy but ran as a “moderate”. She’s probably beatable, but it will be expensive to do it. Note the bolded portion of the article, my highlighting, indicating that there are 915,000 registered Independents in this district.

Both Kelly and Goss are very conservative, we’ve had diaries about Kelly up on Redstate. He’s a very attractive candidate, as is Goss (but all I know about Goss is from his webpage). Neither have held elective office and either are real long-shots against an incumbent. Note: I included Patton’s AZ Senate campaign webpage because he doesn’t have a Congressional Campaign page up yet since he’s not officially thrown his hat in the ring. I like Kelly a whole lot, and people like Kelly and Goss are the future of the Republican Party in Arizona. Right now, I think probably we’d be better off with Patton as our candidate and Kelly and or Goss can move into the State legislature or Senate.

I find Patton a very attractive candidate because he is a known quantity in the district and is an elected official at the State level. He’s got campaign apparatus and fundraising in place. He knows how the game is played and knows Giffords strengths and weaknesses.

In Arizona we’ve got the opportunity to take at least one seat back (this one) and if JD will consider running against Harry Mitchell for his old seat we can make a fight out of that one as well. If he runs against McCain, Mitchell is a shoo-in and it will sap campaign resources that could be used to win seats and replace Nancy-look-alikes in at least two districts, possibly even three.

I’m really encouraged by this because Arizona is NOT a Red state. It’s light purple. Republicans of any stripe have no bench in the state. The Democratic Party in the state is very disorganized and yet they held the Governor’s office and the AG for eight years (Jan Brewer our “Republican” governor replaced Janet and is Charlie Crist in drag). It looks like Brewer will run for re-election and if she does she will likely get pounded by our Dem AG Terry Goddard while John McCain probably gets 75% of the vote in the general election. The Dems hold five of eight Congressional seats. We should be able to take back at least two of those in ’10 if we focus on WINNING instead of “making a point”.

My bottom line is this. Conservatives can take back the party in Arizona. We have an excellent base from which to start with Shadegg, Franks and Flake. The Republicans in the State Legislature are, on the whole, pretty conservative – especially the new ones. Patton is one of the more conservative Senators in the “old boys club” and I’d love to see him beat Giffords and be replaced by Kelly or Goss. Conservatives can win here if we pay attention and attack in the right places. John McCain may be (is) a major pain in the ass on a national level. He’s not going to be beaten in Arizona but he can be relegated into irrelevancy in State politics and he can be replaced by a movement Conservative if we pay attention now.

So, in Arizona – and I’m sure in many other states, if we just pay attention and fight where we can win we will win big in ’10 and we can be positioned to really go to war in ’12. If we spend our time and energy and money jousting at windmills we’ll be in the desert (no pun intended) forever. And we’ll deserve to be there. And Obama will serve two terms and there will be no hope of ever turning the ship of state. We need to pick the fights we can win. And win them.