Sen. John McCain will become the latest member of the Republican establishment to support Rep. Ben Quayle over Rep. Dave Schweikert in an increasingly bitter member-versus-member primary.
McCain called Schweikert on Friday afternoon, a source close to Schweikert tells us, as a courtesy before making public his support for Quayle. McCain said his move was motivated by the National Defense Authorization Act, which Quayle voted for and Schweikert against when it hit the floor in May.
Quayle and Schweikert, both Republican freshmen running for the same northwest Phoenix seat after Arizona's decennial redistricting period, have pursued distinctly separate strategies in crafting their images in advance of the August primary. Quayle, son of the former vice president, has won support from big-name Republicans like Sen. Jon Kyl, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Schweikert has backing from conservative luminaries like the Club for Growth and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.
Both strategies have their advantages. The district, which includes Scottsdale and cities around the northwest side of Phoenix, mixes upper class retirees -- country club Republicans -- who are likely to take their cues from the party elite, with working-class Republicans more likely to be immigration hawks and tea party backers, exactly the constituency Schweikert is courting.
The winner of the August 28 primary will almost certainly win the November general election. Expect Schweikert and Quayle -- both veterans of nasty primary battles in 2010 -- to fight to the bitter end over the safe seat.