As we’ve mentioned before, Legislative District 26, where Republicans Pete Hershberger and Al Melvin are fighting for a Senate seat in the Sept. 2 primary, is in the ScrambleWatch spotlight. The two candidates squared off in a Clean Elections debate last night.
Although the district leans Republican, Democrat Charlene Pesquiera won LD26 in 2006 by fewer than 500 votes over Melvin. Melvin had ousted Sen. Toni Hellon in the GOP primary two month earlier with a campaign that accused her of being too liberal; he hopes to give Hershberger the same treatment this year.
Hershberger counters that he’s in step with the voters of the district, which stretches from Saddlebrooke through Oro Valley and across the Catalina Foothills. Hershberger has represented LD26 in the House of Representatives for eight years. He argues that Melvin can’t win a general election in the district.
Here’s a slightly delayed liveblog of key debate moments:
7:05 p.m.: Moderator David Bartlett skips the standard introductory question that lets candidates talk about who they are and jumps right into the issue of illegal immigration by asking whether the candidates support Arizona’s employer sanctions law.
Melvin says securing the border is the first step in his five-point plan to improve Arizona. “We need to enforce all of our existing laws and when we do that, we will get control of the illegal immigrant situation and and we’ll start to save the $2 billion a year that it’s costing Arizona taxpayers.”
Hershberger says he supports “the toughest employer sanctions bill in the country” and calls for more border security and some kind of guest-worker program. “We will continue to work on this issue,” he promises.
7:09 p.m.: Hershberger cites this year’s budget as an example of legislative success because it bridged a shortfall of more than $2 billion. “We did in a bipartisan way,” Hershberger says. “We did a combination of things to pass a budget that’s still going to maintain a vision for Arizona.”
He laments that the Legislature still deals with too many “contentious issues that distract us from the business at hand and I wish that we could get beyond that.”
7:10 p.m.: Melvin takes his first direct shot at Hershberger. “I have to disagree with my opponent,” he salvoes. “In the eight years that he’s been in the House, we’ve had bloated budgets and not enough tax cuts.”
Melvin points out that only four Republicans in the House and four Republicans in the Senate voted for this year’s budget. “They passed a Democratic budget and it’s a crying shame and it’s not the first time it’s happened.”
Melvin also zings Hershberger for opposing the permanent repeal of the state’s property tax, which raises $250 million a year. “When I get to Phoenix, I will not raise taxes. I’ll cut them and I promise that I will,” he vows.
7:13 p.m.: Melvin lays out his five-point program for Arizona: securing Continue reading
Filed under: Arizona politics, Hershberger vs. Melvin, Legislative Races | Tagged: Al Melvin, budget, debates, gay marriage, immigration, Legislative District 26, Pete Hershberger, taxes | 2 Comments »