KINGMAN - U.S. Sen. John McCain could be in for the toughest election of his life when he faces former state Sen. Kelli Ward and other Republicans in the Aug. 30 primary.
He and Ward are currently tied or close to it, according to a pair of polls taken last month - the Merrill Poll and Public Policy Polling.
And should McCain, who has represented Arizona in the House or Senate since 1983, prevail in August, he faces another woman with whom he's in a dead heat - Democrat U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
There are a number of factors in play that could negatively impact McCain's re-election chances. One of them is the crowded Republican primary.
While Kirkpatrick won't waste a dime on a primary battle, McCain faces Ward, Alex Meluskey, Scott McBean and Clair Van Steenwick in the GOP primary.
Still, with all those candidates only Ward is polling well enough to emerge as a challenger, 26 percent to McCain's 39 percent, but they could be closer.
Public Policy Polling in its results claims McCain and Ward are tied at 41 percent when it's just those two.
That's pretty remarkable considering Ward is a relatively unknown two-term state senator from Lake Havasu City.
While Ward has low name recognition in some parts of the state, she is popular with the "very conservative" voter, according to Public Policy Polling, leading 35 percent to 28 percent.
The tables are turned with moderate Republicans, who prefer McCain by a 60-10 margin.
The wildcard is the 27 percent of voters who remain undecided.
And again, if he gets past Ward, McCain has to wrestle with Kirkpatrick, with whom he's behind, 43 percent to 41 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling poll released Thursday.
There is history on the line. Arizona has never elected a woman to the U.S. Senate.
The Miner contacted the campaigns of McCain, Ward, Kirkpatrick and Meluskey.
Follow the links to see what they had to say roughly six weeks before the primary election.