If one listens to the rhetoric, it seems impossible that the state Senate race between incumbent Carolyn Allen and Rep. Colette Rosati is actually between two Republicans. Allen said Rosati is out of touch with the mainstream public and has been ineffective in the House of Representatives.
She added that Rosati is trying to make her health — Allen is 68 and has rheumatoid arthritis — an issue, calling it a “low blow.”
Rosati, who denied the health jabs, called Allen a tax-and-spend liberal who favors big government and is weak on illegal immigration. Rosati also is wondering who put her campaign sign in two toilets on the corner of Cactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard with the implication that’s where a vote for Rosati would take the district.
Yet both candidates seeking the District 8 nomination are Republicans.
The winner of the Sept. 12 primary in the Republicanheavy district that includes most of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and Rio Verde will move on to face Democrat Dan Oseran in the Nov. 7 general election.
Allen, who is seeking her third Senate term after serving four terms in the House of Representatives, sat down with the Tribune for an interview about the race.
Rosati, who is trying to gain the Senate seat after two terms in the House, declined an interview, instead saying she would only respond to questions via e-mail. Asked to write why she declined to be interviewed, Rosati wrote: “I believe, as I always have, that it’s best to run a grass-roots campaign and to speak directly with the voters as much as possible.”
ALLEN RECEIVES BIG-NAME ENDORSEMENTS
Both candidates point to evidence to show why they are the “true” representative of the majority of the district’s Republicans.
Allen, a former House majority leader who believes she is the No. 1 target of the far-right Republicans, is quick to list her endorsements from high-profile Republicans — Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Gov. Fife Symington, to name a few.
“Do you think Jon Kyl would endorse me if I was a tax-and-spend liberal?” Allen said. “I’m a moderate and a moderate in this district is where the majority is.”
Allen has raised $107,250 through June, and has taken donations from members or lobbyists of the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, Planned Parenthood, Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Arizona Human Rights Foundation, a gay advocacy group. She’s received donations from arts advocates, Realtors, insurance companies and medical association committees. Allen sponsored a bill that was vetoed by the governor that would have made it more difficult to sue emergency room physicians.
She has worked extensively on health and environmental issues. And the recent Scottsdale History Hall of Fame inductee also has the support of business leaders, including the endorsement of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I believe I’m capable of the big picture and capable of intellectually understanding complex issues,” Allen said.
Rosati says Allen votes more with Democrats than Republicans and likes to point to their legislative rankings by two conservative groups.
The Arizona Federation of Taxpayers scorecard released last week identified Allen as as the lowest-scoring Republican, with a score of 32 percent and a “Friend of Big Government,” slightly below Democrat Gov. Janet Napolitano, who scored a 36 percent. Colette Rosati scored an 81 and was named a “Champion of the Taxpayer.”
The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank, issues its annual legislator report card based on votes on education, fiscal, property and regulatory issues. In 2005 and 2004, the Goldwater Institute gave Allen a C- and C, while Rosati received an A- and B+, respectively.
ROSATI WINS SUPPORT OF SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES
Rosati has the loyal support of social conservatives who are anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. Allen, who is prochoice, voted in 1996 that marriage was between one man and one woman and said she still believes that. Allen, however, will not be supporting the constitutional amendment to limit marriage between a man and woman because the measure also would ban benefits for unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples, she said.
Rosati has the endorsement of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, Chris Simcox of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps and the National Rifle Association.
“I believe this race gives voters a clear choice,” Rosati wrote. “If they want more of the same from my opponent — higher taxes, bigger government, and clear weakness on illegal immigration — then they should vote for Carolyn Allen. If, on the other hand, the voters want a state Senator who believes in lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and that it is time to secure our borders and crack down on illegal immigration, then they have the opportunity to vote for me.”
Rosati, who is receiving public campaign funding, has raised $3,688, according to the latest campaign finance report filed June 30.
POLITICAL FOES HAVE DEBATED ONLY ONCE
Despite the rhetoric, the two have squared off in only one debate — a shared one with the District 8 House of Representatives candidates that Rosati was required to attend as a Clean Elections candidate. Each got in their fair share of jabs, but Rosati arrived a half-hour late for the two-hour debate, offering no explanation.
Allen said there have been three other invitations — all rejected by Rosati — although a debate is now scheduled for Tuesday that will later air on Scottsdale CityCable 11.
In past campaigns, Rosati made headlines by continuing to hand out campaign literature in a church parking lot after being told not to, and for writing an e-mail raising questions about her opponents, one who was married and had no children and one who was single. As it turned out, Royce Flora’s wife had three miscarriages, cancer and a hysterectomy, making her unable to have children, and Michele Reagan had a boyfriend and married earlier this year.
“The thing that makes the race so intriguing is Allen’s iconic standing in the community, but Rosati has proven to be a tremendous vote-getter,” said Jason Rose, a Scottsdalebased political consultant. “Two years ago, Rosati made enormous political campaign mistakes that most would view as fatal, and she won.”
There is at least one area of agreement between the rivals. Allen and Rosati are both supporting Proposition 401 and tougher regulations against the strip clubs, which will be on the same Sept. 12 ballot.
Colette Rosati Age: 47
Political experience: State representative (2003-06)
Pharmaceutical sales representative, real estate agent, registered nurse
Carolyn Allen Age: 68
Political experience: State senator (2003-06), state representative (1995-2002)
Other experience: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Development director, Scottsdale Cultural Council Development director, advertising manager