Sen. Steve Smith could have engaged in a primary tussle in Legislative District 11 this year, but instead he's leading a Republican House ticket in a district that leans the GOP's way.
In this year's redrawn legislative districts, Republican Sens. Al Melvin and Smith, who lives in Maricopa, were in the same district. They worked it out, though, with the senior Melvin, 67, running for re-election to the Senate while the junior Smith, 36, seeks a turn in the House.
He's joined in the race by two Oro Valley residents: Republican Adam Kwasman, 29, and Democrat David Joseph, 52. The top two vote-getters win a seat.
The new district includes Casa Grande and a swath of Pinal County as well as the northwest side of the Tucson metro area. Republicans account for 40 percent of registered voters to 27 percent Democrats, while 32 percent are independents.
In a debate Sept. 24, Joseph, CEO of Ironwood Communications LLC, defined himself as a candidate apart from the Republicans: a small businessman who supports the federal Affordable Care Act.
Asked about the state's minimum wage, Joseph said: "If you can't afford to pay people a living wage, maybe you shouldn't be in business."
Smith, who heads a Phoenix talent agency, and Kwasman, a financial consultant, define themselves as traditional economic conservatives who believe limiting government's reach will unleash businesses to drive economic growth. That means reducing and simplifying business taxes and voting against Proposition 204, which would extend a 1-cent state sales tax increase, set to expire in May, designed to pay for education and infrastructure projects.
"In order to fund our education, we've got to grow our economy - more taxpayers paying into the system based on economic growth and job creation," Kwasman said.
In the debate, Smith argued the Legislature has already taken the key first steps to rebuilding the economy and had balanced the budget, making Prop. 204 unwise.
"We made it attractive to businesses and people to move here," Smith said.
Joseph supports Prop. 204 as necessary for public education.
"What I feel from the Republican side is for them, private education is important," Joseph said.