But when fundraising is taken into account, it's very clear that Flake would have a big head start. The Club for Growth put up some impressive early fundraising numbers
on behalf of Flake, and according to his most recent FEC report, Flake had a healthy $627,000 cash on hand is his campaign account at the end of 2010. Franks, on the other hand had just $15,000, with $264,000 in debt.
When it comes to spending and economic issues, it's unlikely that any other Republican is going to be able to outshine Flake, who has cultivated a reputation as a fiscal hawk. But specifically on immigration, he remains vulnerable.
While Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
(R) has removed his name
from the running, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth
(R) and state Sen. Russell Pearce
(R) are the names that remain as possibilities from the hard line immigration wing of the party. Flake could stand to benefit if more than one candidate to his right enters the race, given the potential for vote-splitting. But it may be unlikely that Hayworth will enter the race if Franks gets in first. Pearce, meanwhile, may have a closer eye on Flake's House seat.
"My gut tells me that if Congressman Franks gets in that he probably will not get in," said Mecum of Hayworth.
Former Rep. Matt Salmon
(R) and Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce
(R) are also looking at the race.