8/20/2014 6:00:00 AM Mohave's legislative candidates hold to similar messages, views Two will be nominated for election
The Republican candidates for District 5 in the Arizona Legislature. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)
In some GOP races, internal anger drives support
PHOENIX (AP) - Conservative Republicans furious with some members of their own party for supporting Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan are targeting a half-dozen lawmakers in next week's primary in a nasty intra-party battle.
The campaign is particularly vicious in Chandler, where Rep. Bob Robson was accused of removing signs opposing his re-election and now faces misdemeanor tampering charges. He has denied the allegations.
Robson is among the lawmakers who supported Brewer's Medicaid expansion last year and are now being targeted by tea party Republicans and a group called the Alliance of Principled Conservatives. In response, Brewer is spending cash from her Arizona's Legacy political action committee to back her supporters.
The Medicaid expansion plan pushed by Brewer in the 2013 legislative session fractured the party, with a handful of Republicans splitting with the conservatives and voting with Democrats to approve her plan.
The move angered tea party Republicans, who found it offensive that the state embraced a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health care law.
"They're causing irreparable financial damage to the state of Arizona for one, and No. 2 they ran on the platform of the Republican party they asked for the party's nomination and then they basically violated probably the core principals of that party platform," said Frank Antenori, a former state senator from Tucson and co-chair of the group. "They're free to run with what their true label out to be - and that's as a progressive, not as a Republican. And particularly not as a conservative Republican."
Besides Robson, those targeted include Reps. Doug Coleman, Kate Brophy McGee, Bob Worsley, Frank Pratt, T.J. Shope and Heather Carter. Rep. Jeff Dial, who is running for Senate, is also on the list.
Brophy McGee, who backed Brewer and has benefited from more than $12,000 in spending by her PAC, said the primary fight within the Republican Party is very tough but "we need to refocus on what we need to get done, not just now and in November but also on the national stage in 2016."
As for the tea party Republicans, "I would say that they are entitled to their opinion but it does not represent a vision for the future of Arizona in any way, shape or form," McGee said. "They're angry and they're upset, but they're not and never have offered solutions."
The fight among Republicans is brutal and intense, said A.J. LaFaro, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party,
"It's just one of the nastiest primaries I've experienced in my life," LaFaro said.
Carter, who is among the Brewer backers targeted by conservatives, agreed.
"When I'm out knocking on doors it's probably the first thing people talk about," Carter said. "Even before they talk about issues, they talk about how frustrated they are that there is so much mud being slung and so many lies being told."
In Robson's District 18, "Voted for Obamacare" signs with arrows pointing to re-elect Robson signs were placed by precinct committeeman Mike Richardson of Mesa. Richardson said more than a hundred of those signs were destroyed and removed, so a volunteer replaced them and then began watching the area. On the evening of Aug. 9, the volunteer spotted Robson driving up in his truck, and another person getting out and removing them.
Robson declined to comment beyond his denial when asked about the allegations last week. He did not immediately return messages seeking additional comment on Tuesday.
Chandler police closed the complaint for lack of evidence, but the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigated and issued a citation to Robson on Monday night on a misdemeanor charge of tampering with campaign signs, Lt. Brandon Jones said. The class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a $750 fine.
KINGMAN - Other than height, weight and gender, not much separated the five Republicans running for two seats in the Legislature's District 5 - Mohave and LaPaz counties - when they spoke at the Kingman Republican Men's Club monthly luncheon on Monday.
Incumbent Representative Sonny Borrelli, Lake Havasu City; Dr. Regina "Gina" Cobb, Kingman; Jennifer Jones, Quartzite; Sam Medrano, Bullhead City; and George Schnittgrund, Lake Havasu City, each oppose Medicaid expansion, the education initiative known as Common Core, big government and taxes of any kind.
Cobb, a longtime dentist in Kingman, spoke first.
She's been a dentist in Kingman for 21 years, raised her children in Kingman and recently became a grandmother.
Cobb has worked as a legislative liaison with the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce and has served on committees for the city and Kingman Unified School District.
She also lobbies lawmakers on issues related to the dental field.
Cobb recently landed the coveted endorsement of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a fellow dentist.
Mohave County supervisors Gary Watson and Jean Bishop recently endorsed Cobb, as well, she said.
Jones, the publisher of a free, conservative newspaper in Quartzite, said she is "hanging her hat" on what she publishes in Desert Freedom Press.
She said her ability to research and absorb what she learns has prepared her for the "1,200 bills in 120 days" the Legislature routinely addresses each session.
"You have to be a speed reader," she said.
Jones also said that while she isn't a lawyer, she understands a legislator's job is to "craft the rules which we all agree to abide by."
She said she is a fiscal conservative and would focus on infrastructure - roads, water and sewer - if elected.
Schnittgrund, a small business owner in shipping, said he opposed Medicaid expansion because there is allegedly $10 million set aside to fund abortions, something he said, as a conservative Catholic, he cannot support.
Schnittgrund said if elected he would work to help school districts with funding issues. He also asked those in attendance to support the Rosemont Copper Mine near Tucson.
Medrano, a longtime Bullhead City television journalist and three-term city councilman, said his experience working with government entities such as the Tri-City Commission has helped qualify him for the statehouse.
He said he is a big believer in public transportation, saying people get on a bus either to make money or spend money.
He also said Phoenix has too much influence over what happens elsewhere in the state.
He's also a big fan of shopping local.
Incumbent Borrelli touted a number of bills he helped get approved in the last session, many that involve public safety issues.
Borrelli, a retired Marine, has been a big supporter of veterans. He said he helped expand a housing program for low-income Arizonans to veterans.
Borrelli also said he helped "slow down" the state's recent habit of taking away the gas tax revenues cities and towns are supposed to receive each year and that he will continue to fight for $500,000 in state lottery revenue Mohave County used to receive before the recession prompted lawmakers to take significant money from cities and towns.
While voters will elect two of the candidates to the seat - Doris Goodale will not seek re-election - two Democrats are also on the ballot: Joseph "Joe" Longoria and Beth Weisser.