In Primary Battle, McCain Rejects 'Maverick' Label
Senator must choose between moderation and partisanship
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2010 4:05 PM CDT
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., addresses the crowd during a campaign rally Saturday, March 27, 2010 in Mesa, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

(Newser) – For the first time since 1982, John McCain must fight to retain his US Senate seat. But the challenge is less about the viability of rival JD Hayworth—McCain has much more money and influence—than about which John McCain will prevail. Will it be the storied "maverick" who flirted with joining the Democratic caucus, or the post-election, hyperpartisan McCain, who threatened to shut down the government over health care and who Mitch McConnell now calls "a fabulous team player"?

McCain's pitch for Arizona is clear—with moderation out of fashion, he's dueling with Hayworth for the mantle of "consistent conservative." "I never considered myself a maverick," he tells Newsweek. "I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities." And if he wins? Hayworth insists McCain will do "the Johnny Mac shuffle" and gleefully return to "poking conservatives in the eye." The ex-maverick insists that he won't "fundamentally change."