Conservative moves to middle to win District 26 House race - Tucson Local Media: Import

Conservative moves to middle to win District 26 House race

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Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2006 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

October 25, 2006 - In his latest television ad, wearing an aquamarine oxford and standing in front of the Arizona desert, David Jorgenson touts the support of Sen. John McCain, the iconic Arizona senator who draws support from many sides of the political spectrum.

He tells voters he wants to fight other state representatives for Southern Arizona's fair share of transportation and education dollars.

After securing one of the Republican Party's nominations for state House of Representatives, Jorgenson and his District 26 state Senate running mate Al Melvin, now are drawing the endorsements they lacked in the primary.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Association of Realtors, Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, among others, none of whom endorsed the team in the primary, have come out for the Republican pair.

In the primary, Jorgenson and Melvin seemed like long shots. Melvin had to unseat an incumbent and Jorgenson got in the race late. But they mobilized their base. They spouted tough talk about a fence at the border, against gay marriage and for reducing taxes. Conservative voters dutifully showed up at the polls.

But now it's time to broaden the base, Jorgenson said.

"What I've learned is that is primary is different than general," he said. "In the primary, you've got to make yourself a distinction. Then after that you got to bring everyone together."

In new commercial, there is no tough talk about a fence, and on Jorgenson's powder-blue campaign signs, "Conservative for House," was replaced with "Republican for House."

"I'm running because there is no other conservative in the race," he said back in September.

Political maneuverings aside, Jorgenson, a clean elections candidate, has strong ideological beliefs he hasn't been afraid to voice throughout the election.

At a candidate forum at the Nanini public library, the moderator asked candidates about their particular expertise. His opponents said things like "tourism" and "children services." Jorgenson replied: "building a fence."

The crowd chuckled, but he was quite serious.

"I'm a civil engineer and I'm a real estate broker," he said. "I can design a fence, build it and sell it to all the rest of America and probably save a bunch of money in the process."

His top budget priorities, if elected, he said are securing the border, providing parents vouchers to increase competition for public education and reducing taxes, specifically the personal property and corporate income kind.

To address overcrowding in prisons, Jorgenson said the state could send all the illegal immigrants back to Mexico. However, the state Department of Corrections spokesman said only 4,173 of the more than 32,000 prisoners are illegally in the country.

And when asked at the forum if he would let his religion influence how he would vote in the Legislature, he told the crowd that 52 of the 55 Constitutional founders were evangelical orthodox Christians. The crowd's grumblings were too loud to actually hear how he finished answering the question.

On the border Jorgenson has said repeatedly the only way to stop the stream of illegal immigrants is to secure the border with a fence.

"We have the money, we have the manpower and technology," Jorgenson said. "All we need to do is do it."

Jorgenson and Melvin also spend a lot of time talking about tort reform as a means to curb the rising cost of medical procedures and insurance.

"We need to start reforming medical liability suits and get trial lawyers out of the health care industry," Jorgenson said.

But county records show Jorgenson and his wife January filed their own medical malpractice suit in 1993. The court documents say January Jorgenson suffered physical and mental damages after her doctor failed to detect a serious medical emergency.

Jorgenson said his wife suffered a ruptured appendix that her doctor initially failed to detect and sent her home. She was later hospitalized and had an operation.

He and his wife didn't intend on going through with the lawsuit, he said, but that an attorney friend of his recommend they file the court documents as a formality in case she had further medical problems relating to the incident in the future. The case didn't go to trial and it was not settled out of court.

Jorgenson said he and his wife didn't think it was appropriate to punish the doctor with a costly lawsuit.

For education reform, Jorgenson said competition is best. He wants to give public school students vouchers to attend private and charter schools.

"(Kindergarten) through 12 is important and it's not all about money," Jorgenson said at the Nanini forum. "The more money you throw at it doesn't guarantee the better it will be."

Jorgenson doesn't support teacher pay raises, but he does support requiring middle school and high school teachers to have master's degrees in the subjects they teach.

"It shows they have commitment to their subject, it shows they have passion for that subject, " he said. "And that passion will be translated to the kids.

Amphitheater Public Schools has no requirement for a master's degree at any level. Todd Jaegar, legal counsel for Amphi said it provides financial incentives for teachers who do get master's degrees, but "passion is not predicated by someone who has an advanced degree or not."

This election is Jorgenson's first political race. He is president of Corban Enterprises, a custom homebuilding company that builds homes with an average cost of $2.5 million each. He has worked as a commercial contractor and served 10 years in the United States Air Force.

He's a motorcycle lover who rides a 1997 Harley Davidson Road King.

Jorgenson doesn't have any political experience, but he has been heavily involved in his community, some of the activities reflecting his political beliefs.

He's a member of the Minute-man Civil Defense Corps, an anti-immigration group, a National Rifle Association member, and active member of the Catalina Foothills Presbyterian Church, where he was a deacon.

He is a past president of the Arizona Associated General Contractors Building Chapter.

Mark Mintor, executive director of the Arizona Builders Alliance, worked with Jorgenson on the contractors association.

"He was a very dedicated family man," Minter said of Jorgenson. "He was always one of the contractors who was concerned with building good relationships up and down the food chain."

Minter said he remembers having political conversations with Jorgenson.

"I think he has very strong beliefs, but he's very low key about them," Minter said. "He may tell you, but he won't shove them down your throat."

Jorgenson also served as board president of the Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson, an anti-abortion, Christian-based organization that tries to talk women out of abortions.

As the western regional director for the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International, now called Christ at Work, Jorgenson said for two years he traveled around the region and trained CEOs on how to run a business while still following the Bible.

Jorgenson sat on the board of the organization before taking the paid position. He loved it, he said, but after a while had enough of the travel.

Now, Jorgenson is hoping for a new stint to interrupt his custom-home building. Speaking in front of 85 SaddleBrooke Republicans in early October, he admitted that he was a little surprised to be in this position.

"Historically and statistically, a Republican will win LD 26," he said. "But historically and statistically, Al and I shouldn't be here."

The crowd giggled and cheered.

"So, we need to not lay back on our laurels and get out and vote."

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