Eight crowd GOP CD1 field

Flagstaff, AZ – What do a dentist, a lawyer and an artist have in common? They all want to be the next congressman in Arizona's first district. There are a total of eight Republican contenders running in the primary Tuesday. They share a lot of the same conservative ideals but as Arizona Public Radio's Laurel Morales reports a couple stand out as front runners.

All of the CD-1 challengers say the country's in trouble and they can do something about it.

Rusty Bowers, a former state legislator, staunch conservative and sculptor, is concerned about the national debt.

BOWERS: It scared us scared my wife scared myself for our family and kids to see them having to face this in our future. If we didn't bring forth our experience and try to do something about it then we would almost be culpable.

Lobbyist Sydney Hay shares Bowers' concern.

HAY: My grandchildren owe $200,000 share of a national debt. We are in deep financial trouble. This country used to be the greatest creditor nation now we've been turned into the world's biggest debtor nation.

Hay entered the race late - one day before the deadline. She was unimpressed by Bowers and the other candidates.

HAY: I just didn't see them putting together a campaign that it will take to take out an incumbent to defeat an incumbent like Ann Kirkpatrick. When they spend millions of dollars in attack ads on you it buys you an asset sky high name recognition and one of the most recognizable faces.

This is Hay's third time running. Hay lost to democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in the 2008 general election. Political analyst Fred Solop says two years ago Kirkpatrick was buoyed by a large number of voters - especially young voters - who turned out because of the presidential race.

SOLOP: Ann Kirkpatrick won the district and she won with a significant number of votes 45,000 more than Sidney Hay yet Hay had more votes than Rick Renzi in the previous election.

Solop points out even though Hay has the name recognition in this primary, she doesn't have the most money. She's raised almost 400-thousand but Flagstaff dentist Paul Gosar has raised 15-thousand more.

He also has the most endorsements. And some pretty high profile ones too, including one from Sara Palin and another from Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It's not the most traditional route to Congress but Gosar says being a dentist for 25 years has prepared him for the task.

GOSAR: I listen to people. In a dental practice that's necessary. If you come into my office I have to ask you what your problem is I have to gather the facts build a diagnosis build a treatment plan and it involves the patient. What a perfect scenario for legislation in this crisis.

As a health care provider Gosar has some specific ideas about what health care reform should look like. He says people should be responsible for buying their own insurance.

GOSAR: Now they have to be able to invest. They have to be able to make those decisions based on cost. But we also have to have competitive marketplaces. And that's where the government's hand has been in Medicaid and Medicare for years and it's not worked.

Hay agrees that there should be interstate competition for health insurance. The candidates also agree there needs to be stronger border control before immigration reform is even discussed.

Hay would like to see a more expansive border fence.

HAY: That's what people want secure the border first and then we can talk about the people who have been trying to get into this country legally. It shouldn't take 16 yrs when you're someone who wants to come here, work, pay your taxes, raise your family, become an American. But certainly folks who are here illegally should not be able to jump in front of the line of those people who have obeyed our laws and respected our national sovereignty and tried to do it the right way.

Whoever emerges from tomorrow's primary political analyst Fred Solop says it's a good time to be a republican running against a freshman democratic incumbent. Kirkpatrick has raised more than three times the amount of money Gosar has but he says someone can win the race with a small amount of money.

SOLOP: If the national republicans deem this as a competitive district I expect to see a lot of national money coming into this district. The republicans will put money into the district to try to win it the democrats will put money in to try to keep it.

The other candidates running in the CD-1 primary are Cottonwood businessman Joe Jaraczewski, Show Low cardiologist Steve Mehta, Sedona economist Tom Zaleski, Globe lawyer Bradley Beauchamp and Prescott Valley school administrator Jon Jensen.

To hear complete interviews with the candidates go to our Web site knau dot org.

For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Morales.