July 29, 2004
Republican voters in District 8 have three candidates to choose from in a race that features the Scottsdale-area district’s lone social conservative in the House trading political punches with a pair of moderates.
Reps. Colette Rosati and Michele Reagan may see a lot of each other at the state Capitol, but both admit they don’t agree on many issues.
Then there’s political newcomer Royce Flora, a state Department of Administration fund manager who is aiming to steal one of two open seats in the Sept. 7 Republican primary.
While Flora is the newcomer, his campaign strategy seems decisive: Aim for the more conservative Rosati, who narrowly won a seat against a Democrat two years ago in the heavily Republican district, which covers Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and Rio Verde.
"I think this district can do a better job. I can provide a broader perspective on most issues than (Rosati) can," Flora said. "She almost got beat by a Democrat in the general election, so I think people were trying to send a message they had concerns even before she started."
Admittedly a staunch conservative, Rosati placed antiabortion issues at the forefront of her first campaign, but seems to have toned it down, trumpeting fiscal conservatism, support of tougher immigration policies and education choice.
Reagan, who continues to push the need to support the small-business community as her No. 1 priority, said Rosati’s conservative voting record could backfire on her.
Reagan said Rosati has the reputation of saying "no" to most issues — from light rail to all-day kindergarten to arts funding — unless it falls within her narrow interests.
"There are some great people down (at the Capitol), and then there are people who are not so great," said Reagan, who at 34 is more than 10 years younger than her opponents. "It’s all about the balance. I think I provide an excellent balance to some of the older people who are a little more rigid in what they think and what they are willing to look at."
Rosati wears her conservative badge with honor.
"I’m the lone conservative, so I have to run again, just to represent the people in the district who are truly conservative," she said. "It’s real easy to say you are a fiscal conservative, but it’s very hard to not cower into the pressure of all the lobbyists and the feel-good, do-good legislation."
She called Reagan the "big spender" in the House, and said Flora would similarly fall into that category.
Flora would take a major pay cut for the job if elected. He’d be forced to quit his $71,000-a-year job at the state in exchange for a seat at the Legislature, which pays $24,000 annually.
Flora, like Rosati, has a master’s degree in business administration.
As a fund manager for the state, Flora said he has seen first-hand the damage previous Legislatures have done to the state by sweeping money out of the funds to balance the ailing budget, a move that can result in federal penalties.
"I think I can provide a bridge between the executive branch agencies and the Legislature and clear up some of the misconceptions, especially in the area of budget," he said.
In addition to supporting small-business issues, Reagan said she wants to get reelected to support a number of technology bills expected to reach lawmakers next session. She said she supports tax incentives for private venture capital firms to come to the state and invest in local companies.
She said the concept is not unlike what is envisioned for the $300 million Arizona State University research campus at the former Los Arcos Mall site in south Scottsdale.
"I think it’s pretty exciting that the major hub of this could end up in our city," she said.