Dem Senate candidate visits Havasu
John Dougherty thinks Lake Havasu City is tired of its current state government and is hoping they’re ready for a Democratic candidate for the Senate.

Dougherty, a former investigative journalist, made a campaign stop Monday for the opening of the Lake Havasu City Democratic headquarters. Dougherty is looking to unseat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this November and hopes his journalism experience, covering McCain, Warren Jeffs in Colorado City and other prominent Arizona names, will give him an edge over the other three Democratic candidates in the August primary.

"All of these issues combined put me in a rare position as a candidate to have a strong overview of what’s going on in Arizona on a deep level on multiple topics," Dougherty told the dozens of attendees Monday. "The second thing was, as McCain ran further to the right, after his flip-flopping presidential campaign, he tried to outdo (former congressman) JD Hayworth. And JD Hayworth is pretty hard to outdo on the right. I felt McCain had basically abandoned his leadership role completely in the last couple of months as he’s done that. ... So I talked to top Democratic Party leaders and there was no one, I felt, with sufficient experience in Arizona to give McCain or Hayworth a strong challenge in the fall."

Dougherty is focusing on renewable energy, which is his campaign’s centerpiece, immigration reform and campaign finance reform.

"We need a renewable energy-based economy. And the sooner we accept it and embrace it, the better. It’s going to save us money, provide for more jobs, protect the environment and it will be good for our children and our economy," he said. "If we deny doing this, we’re going to fall behind and not be the dominant nation in the world at the end of this century."

But the main concern that brought him to Lake Havasu City Monday, is a house resolution Congressman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., introduced in July 2009. HR 3481, however, is not gathering support among several agencies, Mayor Mark Nexsen said previously. McCain previously stated that he did not support the bill in its current form.

"I know it’s an important issue in Havasu that this gets done sooner than later," Dougherty said. "I can’t give you the specifics on the bill and how it should be, but I support the effort. I don’t think it’s appropriate to just say ‘well this is something we should do but we can’t afford it now so forget about it.’ The fundamental principle needs to be cleaning the river and creating jobs and build an infrastructure that will be enduring."

Knowing the state’s history of leaning toward the Republican Party, Havasu resident Dave Olday said he’s not sure if the Democratic candidates will succeed in November.

"I’m glad that there are quality (Democratic) candidates who I think are dedicated," Olday said. "Are they being realistic about it? I think they’re facing a real uphill battle considering Arizona’s history."

Havasu resident Dave Tunnell said he was pleased with Dougherty’s speech.

"From the party’s point of view, I think it’s very encouraging the quality of Democratic candidates we have right now," he said. "This is a level of interest we have not had in this state for some time and I find it very refreshing."

Resident Virginia Barrie said the speech was "fantastic."

"I thought he was right on the line with common sense, realistic approaches to solutions in this state," she said. "They were realistic answers instead of a canned speech. … Maybe people in this town are ready for a change and if they see a candidate like this with sincerity about getting things done, then who knows?"

Winning over Arizona voters will come down to the independents in the state, Dougherty said.

"McCain has done very well in his campaign with independents. But I think he’s discouraged a lot of independents with his run to the right of JD Hayworth," Dougherty said. "So my strategy is simple: Win the primary, win over as many independents as you can and block (McCain or Hayworth) from going back from the right in November."

While he has minimal funding and entered the race late, Dougherty said he still feels he has "the best shot" at challenging McCain’s seat.

"I’m a middle class guy who doesn’t have access to a huge amount of money and I’m a journalist who has alienated a lot of the powerful structure involved over the years," he said. "But I believe people are tired of what’s been going on and they realize the path we’ve been taking is not the right direction and we have to do fundamental change and we have to do it now."

The Lake Havasu City Democratic headquarters is set to announce its grand opening later this week. Dougherty’s "Arizona Issues" tour also involves stops in Flagstaff, Kingman, Parker, Yuma, Ajo, Green Valley, Nogales, Sierra Vista, Tucson, Safford, Globe, Show Low, Window Rock and several other locations in Northeastern Arizona.

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Originally published June 22, 2010