Each Republican candidates for Congress in Arizona’s District 1 wants to be seen as a fighter and a problem solver.
But they didn’t spend much time fighting each other at a candidate forum Wednesday, with each one pledging to support the primary winner to help defeat incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in November.
The SaddleBrooke Republican Club forum drew a crowd of nearly 200.
The candidates had different ideas about what kind of Representative voters want.
Rancher Gary Kiehne said District 1 should send a businessman to Congress. Economist and State Rep. Adam Kwasman said taxpayers want a fighter. Businessman and State House Speaker Andy Tobin said what the district needs is a public servant.
The candidates showed their differences when they were asked what their first action would be as Representative.
Kiehne said he would push to repeal the Endangered Species Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act as a way to restore jobs in rural Arizona.
Kwasman said he would fight to repeal Obamacare and replace it with portable tax-free health savings accounts.
Tobin said he’d work on balancing the budget, perhaps starting with a federal government hiring freeze with the military exempt.
Race newcomer Jim Brown did not participate in the forum but took a few minutes to introduce himself to the audience. He said he decided to run for office after the recession “wiped out” his business. He said he wanted to change the “waste, fraud, abuse and political corruption that’s tearing our country apart.”
Several times Kiehne and Kwasman pushed Tobin to defend his record.
Kiehne accused Tobin of being a career politician.
Tobin said he’s done what’s right for Arizona as a legislator, and he used the immigration law, SB 1070, as an example.
“We were vilified and we were protested against. And folks came down there and threw refried beans all over our walls and walked with signs and yelled at us all day long. But it didn’t change my conviction,” he said. “It wasn’t because I was a politician. It was because I believed in what we were doing.”
Kwasman said Tobin lied about his opposition to the Medicaid expansion in Arizona. Tobin’s jaw dropped and he shook his head.
Tobin said he opposed the expansion and still is fighting it in court. He said Obamacare is an “abomination” that is hurting businesses and seniors.
All three participating candidates oppose Obamacare.
After the forum several voters said they were still undecided and wanted to wait and see what the candidates will do leading up to the August primary election.
Eileen Eagar, an Oro Valley resident in the audience, said she didn’t like the name-calling but found the debate enlightening.
Despite being a little uneasy about Kwasman characterizing himself as someone who wants to fight all the time, she said she likes his fire and agrees with him when he says Arizona needs new blood in Congress.