After defeating an aggressive primary opponent in Wil Cardon, Republican Jeff Flake will take on former Surgeon General and Democrat Richard Carmona in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Carmona and Flake are looking to replace longtime U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.
Kyl has decided not to run for another term, and will retire when his seat is filled.
The match-up between Flake and Carmona has become one of the more heated campaign battles to date, as seen in some recent commercial advertisements.
Flake’s campaign has labeled Carmona as “too temperamental” for Senate, spotlighted by a television ad featuring Carmona’s former supervisor, Dr. Cristina Beato.
In the spot, Beato recounts a night where Carmona allegedly banged on her door in the middle of the night, angry about an argument that had begun earlier in the day.
“I’m a single mom. I feared for my kids and for myself,” Beato says in the ad. “It was Richard Carmona, and I was his boss. Carmona is not who he seems. He has issues with anger, with ethics, and with women. I have testified to this under oath to Congress. Richard Carmona should never, ever be in the U.S. Senate.”
Flake stood by the message in the ad, saying he does in fact believe Carmona has anger issues, and is incapable of working with others productively.
“If you look at the last three jobs he’s held, the last one was that he was Surgeon General, and he was not asked to continue,” said Flake. “He had these issues with his boss, Dr. Beato, that are pretty well-documented. The job he had at Tucson Medical Center, he was fired from that job, and then he sued them. It didn’t end well. The job before that was Kino Hospital, where he was forced to resign by the County Board of Supervisors, because he had increased debt by some $28 million in one year.
“There have been these allegations all along from people about his problems with temperament, and it is relevant, because in the Senate you’ve got to work across the aisle.”
Carmona, who was unreachable for an interview with The Explorer, has since publicly denied the claim and responded by accusing Beato of being dishonest in the past, claiming she fabricated parts of her resume.
Carmona’s campaign then struck back at Flake with an ad claiming he voted to deny police officers funding for bulletproof vests, voted against child abuse prevention, and voted for mining in the Grand Canyon, to which Flake responded.
“We all need to pitch in and buy Richard Carmona a map,” said Flake. “That more than anything will tell you how little he knows about Northern Arizona.”
Flake pointed out that the Arizona Wilderness Act, passed in the 1980s, was designed to provide a buffer area around the Grand Canyon to prevent mining, which has since been abrogated by President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Richard Carmona stands with the Obama administration on that, and accuses me of wanting to mine in the Grand Canyon, when he doesn’t seem to know where the Grand Canyon is,” said Flake.
Regarding his alleged votes against funding bulletproof vests and child abuse prevention, Flake said Carmona is twisting his voting record to his own liking.
“Anybody who has been in Congress for more than a year has voted on more than a thousand bills, at least, rarely on one subject,” said Flake. “If they want to find a bill where you voted against motherhood and apple pie… or in his case, he’s claiming I voted against veterans, when I voted for more than 100 veterans bills. He’ll cherry pick a few that have veterans in the title, but were larded up with everything else, and say ‘Jeff’s against veterans.’ I think people see through that though.”
Flake said Jon Kyl as well as Senator John McCain shared his votes relating to veterans.
“John McCain isn’t exactly someone who votes against veterans,” argued Flake.
Flake outlined his platform, and like most candidates running this election declared the economy the number one issue at stake.
“The biggest issue facing this country is looming debt and deficit that we have, which makes it virtually impossible to grow the economy the way we need to,” he said. “We’ve got to have a plan to deal with this debt before it consumes us, and my opponent has no plan at all, whether its on health care policy, or to reign in this funding problem, or whether it’s entitlement reform, or discretionary spending for the agencies or defense, or anything else, there’s just no plan there. He’s got a great resume, but no plan, and you can’t go back to Washington this day in age and not know what you stand for. You’ve got to stand for something, and if you don’t, you’ll just be an echo of the Obama administration.”
On the issue of education, Flake spoke out against a federally run system.
“Arizona has many pockets of innovation that have come up with charter schools, and a one size fits all system, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, was not something I favored or voted for,” he said. “The imposition of more federal rules and mandates won’t help our education system.”
Flake said another of his priorities if elected would be securing the border while forming a comprehensive work program with Mexico.
Despite claims by Cardon in the primary and Carmona in the General Election that Flake is a “career politician,” Flake said he has spent the majority of his life working in the private sector, and that he merely votes for what he believes in.
“I didn’t have my first job as a Congressman until I was 38 years old,” said Flake. “This notion that I’m a creature of Washington, to those in Washington who served with me, they find that to be a laugher.”
Flake said his willingness to work across party lines would help him collect undecided and independent voters heading into the General Election.