PHOENIX (AP) -- Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth says he is planning to run against John McCain for his U.S. Senate seat.
Hayworth, a Republican, told The Associated Press late Friday he stepped down as host of his radio program on KFYI-AM, a conservative radio talk show in Phoenix. Legally, he would not have been able to remain host of the program and be an active candidate.
Hayworth was ousted from his Congressional seat in 2006 after 12 years in office by Democrat Harry Mitchell, and has hosted the radio show for the past few years.
"We will formally announce at a later time, but we're moving forward to challenge John McCain," he said. "I think we all respect John. I think his place in history is secure. But after close to a quarter-century in Washington, it's time for him to come home."
He said he wasn't serious about running against McCain until a recent "outpouring of support" from Arizonans asking him to run changed his mind.
"Arizonans have a clear choice -- a clear, commonsense, consistent conservative, or they can remain with a moderate who calls himself a maverick," Hayworth said.
Political experts say they are skeptical that Hayworth can raise enough money to mount a political campaign against McCain.
"Cook Political Report" analyst Jennifer Duffy said Hayworth would need to raise a minimum of $2 million to run a decent primary against McCain, who had already stashed away $5 million for the race by late last month, according to the group Friends of John McCain Inc., in a report to the Federal Election Commission.
Meanwhile, McCain recently announced that Sarah Palin would campaign in Arizona with him in March in their first such appearance since their unsuccessful bid as running mates in the 2008 presidential campaign.
The former Alaska governor is scheduled to attend a private fundraising event in Phoenix on March 26. The next day, she and McCain will appear together at a public event, likely a rally.