KINGMAN - Legislative candidate Sam Medrano promised to keep the state of Arizona's hands out of local government coffers Monday, while U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward kept up a steady string of zingers aimed at the incumbent she faces, longtime Arizona Sen. John McCain.
They spoke at the monthly meeting of the Conservative Republican Club of Kingman, where both were well-received, but Ward got a standing ovation with her line about being Arizona's "new BFF" - (that's bold, fresh, fearless voice, not "best friend forever").
Medrano, a former Bullhead City councilman, is running to be one of two state representatives from Mohave County.
He noted that in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the Arizona Legislature patted itself on the back for not raising taxes to make up for lost state revenue. Instead, he said, lawmakers swept local funds into the state budget, and he said they felt they could "dictate" to locals with an attitude of, "We're going to pass our bills on to the cities and the counties."
"The state's the one who did that to you," Medrano said. "The cat's already out of the bag. The folks down in Phoenix know that if they need a little extra money, they can sweep it."
He also noted his opposition to photo radar traffic enforcement. That has been an issue in the Legislature this year, and there has been widespread opposition across the state to such enforcement.
For the most part, Ward stuck to her attacks on McCain, contending that the veteran senator's three decades in Washington, D.C., have changed him and made him too friendly to Democrats. Ward also accused her opponent of supporting the Affordable Care Act, "amnesty" and increases to the debt ceiling, among other barbs.
McCain was part of the unanimous Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and he has supported efforts to repeal it, according to a fact check of Ward's positions.
He has both voted for and against debt ceiling increases, and sometimes not cast a vote at all.
The "amnesty" claim can be hard to vet; while McCain has supported immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that some call amnesty, although others would argue that the hurdles on that path make it different from amnesty.
Ward also took questions about Veterans Administration health care. She endorsed the idea of introducing more competition to the VA and enabling more care locally.
Some in the audience said that those options are already available, but that accessing them can be difficult.
"I think there's got to be a significant culture change in the VA," said Ward.
Ward also said that, if elected, she expected to spend only two terms in office.
By that time, she said, there should be new people waiting in the wings to keep the momentum going.
Others looking to challenge McCain include Alex Meluskey, a Phoenix businessman; Clair Van Steenwyck, a radio host and former candidate; and businessman David Pizer.