Mudslinging is center stage in State House of Representatives race
While political races aren’t necessarily walks in the park, some Legislative District 5 candidates have upped the ante by airing each other’s dirty laundry on social media and campaign websites.
Incumbents Regina Cobb and Paul Mosley are running against fellow Republicans Leo Biasiucci and Jennifer Jones-Esposito in the Aug. 28 primary. They will face lone Democratic candidate Mary McCord Robinson in the November general election.
Many of the candidates’ public remarks have shined a light on the personal matters of their opponents with little mention of the district’s major issues.
“There’s always going to be mudslinging and the reality is everyone says ‘let’s ban negative campaigning, let’s not do that,’ but it works and that’s why people use it,” said Mohave County Republican Party Chairman Laurence Schiff. “Politics is a blood sport, politics is a contact sport, so would it be nice (if they talked about the issues instead)? I suppose. Is it going to happen? When it snows in July in Lake Havasu…it could happen but it’s not likely.”
Schiff says mudslinging in this year’s LD5 race seems to be more prominent than in 2016, taking off when video surfaced last month showing Mosley apparently bragging to a La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy in March about driving up to 140 mph during his commute from Phoenix to Lake Havasu City. He also reportedly told the deputy that legislative immunity prevented him from getting a ticket for criminal speeding.
“I think people think of him (Mosley) as wounded so the sharks are circling the body (and) I think that brings a lot more drama into the election than would otherwise,” Schiff said. “Then, you know, Mosley is coming out swinging too, he’s not saying ‘OK, the video came out, I apologize and I’ll resign,’ … he came out swinging and he made some accusations about the other people.”
Mosley’s alleged speeding incident received national attention on social media and multiple news outlets and websites, resulting in condemnation from Arizona dignitaries, among others, including his opponents.
“I think that if Paul Mosley had any self-respect, he would have just apologized to the constituents and to his fellow legislators and he would have just stepped down out of the race,” said Jones-Esposito. “I feel that his apology is insincere because even when he made his apology he tried to say everyone else in the Legislature did it (speeding) so why is everyone picking on me, he’s trying to play the victim somehow and it makes his apology very disingenuous.”
Since then, Jones-Esposito has made references to the incident multiple times on her Facebook pages, as well as sharing claims made against Mosley for allegedly making inappropriate comments to a handful of women as an elected official and blocking critics on social media. She’s also referenced Biasiucci’s criminal record from 10 years ago – in which he faced felony charges for computer tampering – and his Green Party affiliation in the 2016 election.
During a candidate forum two weeks ago, Biasiucci made a sly jab at Mosley for his alleged speeding incident when introducing himself to a standing-room-only crowd of voters at the Grace Arts Live theater.
“I got involved in politics after I went to the University of Arizona, got a degree in business administration management, came back and eventually took over the family business, which is Mohave Traffic School; we teach traffic school for speeders,” he said while beginning to smile and inciting laughter from the crowd. “So looking through the room, I don’t see many here, which is a good thing.”
Mosley and Jones-Esposito also took jabs at their opponents during the event.
On Friday, Biasiucci stated in an email that what he said at the event was merely a comment and that he did not bring up Mosley’s alleged speeding incident at all. He declined to provide answers to specific questions from the News-Herald, instead emailing a general statement.
“I am applying for the job to represent the people of District 5, not waste my time and energy counterattacking my opponents,” he wrote in an email. “I think if you look closely at this race, you will notice which two Republican candidates haven’t lost focus of the true responsibility of being your Representative.”
Following the surfaced video of his alleged speeding incident, Mosley appears to have dedicated a tab on his campaign website to bashing his Republican opponents.
“The gloves are off,” Mosley told News-Herald staffers in late-July about the LD5 race. He did not respond to multiple requests for additional comment.
In addition to highlighting Biasiucci’s criminal record and former Green Party affiliation on the website, he also references Cobb’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2011 and shared advertisements paid for by the American Federation for Children, Inc. that claims the IRS filed a $19,000 lien against her for unpaid taxes.
Cobb declined to discuss what was being said about her because she did not want to give it any validation, she said.
“If they want to attack me on my voting record, they want to attack me on the issues themselves and the disagreements we might have on policy, I’m OK with that,” she said. “That’s where we should be focusing our whole attention on, not on these personal attacks.”
Mosley also calls Jones-Esposito a hoarder on the website alongside a photo of cluttered household items stating it was “her own house.” Jones-Esposito says the photo is not her home but rather items she was selling at a Quartzsite swap meet.
While Biasiucci did take a moment last week to discuss on social media his plans if elected – which included water rights, protecting borders, veterans, the Second Amendment and the education system – he also claimed on Thursday that Mosley and Jones-Esposito were “Anti-Trump, Anti-Reagan and Anti-Pence.”