Nobody gave stalwart Republican Al Melvin much of a shot two years ago when he launched his campaign to knock out then-Sen. Toni Hellon.
A well-connected moderate Republican, Hellon had served the district, which sweeps from Saddlebrooke down through Oro Valley and across the Catalina Foothills, for three terms.
Melvin, who moved to Saddlebrooke just six years ago after retiring from a career as a Merchant Marine, used more than $58,000 in public campaign funds to hammer Hellon on issues ranging from abortion to border security, calling her out of step with GOP principles. On Election Day, he crushed her by 13 percentage points.
Unfortunately for Melvin, 2006 was a Democratic year–and the Democrats successfully painted him as an extreme conservative, just as he’d painted Hellon as an extreme liberal. Even though Republicans hold a voter-registration edge, Melvin lost the general election to Democrat Charlene Pesquiera, a political rookie who won by just 455 votes.
The race was close enough that Melvin is back for a second run against another well-known moderate: Rep. Pete Hershberger, who has reached his limit of four terms in the House of Representatives this year. Hershberger has deep roots in the district. He grew up on Tucson’s northwest side; both of his parents, Pete Sr. and Freddie, represented the area before him.
Hershberger, who has spent most of his career working in the area of counseling services for wayward youth, wants to focus on child-welfare issues in the Senate. He says Arizona is “not a child- and family-friendly state. … Children should be safe, healthy and have access to quality education.”
Melvin and Hershberger represent the yin and yang of the Arizona Republican Party. Melvin says Hershberger is too soft on gun rights; Hershberger says he favors restricting weapons in bars and schools. Melvin says Hershberger is too soft on the border; Hershberger says he doesn’t support every piece of border legislation sponsored by members of his caucus, but he did support the employer-sanctions bill passed last year.
Melvin says Hershberger is too soft on abortion restrictions; Hershberger says he believes that government has no business getting involved in the decisions of a (more…)
Filed under: Legislative Races | Tagged: abortion, Al Melvin, gun rights, Pete Hershberger, state budget, taxes | 2 Comments »