Rob Zerban Wenona Benally Baldenegro Two Dems far apart in CD1 primary
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 00:19

Two Dems far apart in CD1 primary

Written by  Cyndy Cole | AZ Daily Sun

Area voters headed to the polls for the primary election in about three weeks will have a choice between two very different local Democrats running for Congress. Both Ann Kirkpatrick and Wenona Benally Baldenegro are attorneys who live in Flagstaff. They have similar views on health policy, immigration and abortion.

But after that, their politics diverge. Asked by the Daily Sun how they would have voted (or did vote) on 30 key bills in the House dating back to late 2008, the pair had different answers on 18 of 30 issues. (See the checklist on Page A8.)

Benally Baldenegro would have voted against expanding a copper mine east of Phoenix; Kirkpatrick introduced legislation for it.

Kirkpatrick voted against low-interest loans for homeowners wanting to make their houses more energy-efficient; Benally Baldenegro would have voted for it.

And although both Benally Baldenegro and Kirkpatrick said they grew up with guns, Kirkpatrick says "I believe it's appropriate for guns to be in the national parks," while Benally Baldenegro wrote "There is no need for people to be carrying guns in our national parks."


Four other candidates running in the First Congressional District -- three Republicans and a Libertarian -- responded to the checklist. Only Republican Jonathan Paton declined to participate. Candidates had 12 days to examine the measures and give their views.

"Jonathan has not read the bills that you selected. Without reading the legislation, it's hard to answer those questions. It is unclear what those bills contain aside from the small blurb attached," said spokesman Barrett Marson.

The key bills were selected by the nonpartisan voter education group, Project VoteSmart, with full explanations listed on its website.

The three Republicans filling out the checklist were former flower-shop owner and California city councilman Patrick Gatti of Show Low; businessman and former congressional intern Gaither Martin of Eager: and Sedona contractor Doug Wade.

Kim Allen, the Libertarian candidate, also filled it out.

Their answers of yes, no or declined to answer are printed here, and their full comments can be found at


Kirkpatrick stuck to her record, affirming the votes she took in Congress in 2009 and 2010.

She voted against the Dodd-Frank legislation that added more oversight to the financial system.

"It goes back to: Do we need another layer of regulation, or do we need to enforce what we had? I think we need to enforce what we had," she said.

Some other votes were much less clear.

Kirkpatrick would have voted against extending Bush-era tax cuts, she said, except that extending unemployment was tied to that measure, too. She wound up supporting the tax-cut extension.

A vote to extend student loans would normally garner Kirkpatrick's support ... until an amendment gutting part of the Affordable Care Act was added to it, she said.

And Kirkpatrick says she proposes measures to balance the budget and to raise taxes on the wealthy.

"I favor keeping the tax cuts for people who make $500,000 or less, and that's most of the people in our district," she said.

Out of 30 issues, Kirkpatrick wound up agreeing nearly as many times with Republicans Wade and Martin (11 votes each) as she did with Benally Baldenegro (12 votes).


The three Republicans are of one mind on the Affordable Care Act (opposed), measures to limit greenhouse gases (opposed), and measures calling for a balanced budget and a mine expansion near Superior (supportive of both).

They separate on issues like guns in national parks, how much funding the Defense Department should receive and whether the Food and Drug Administration should regulate tobacco.

Wade might normally say it is not the government's business to regulate industries.

"Tobacco's a different story, though. My dad smoked his whole life and smoked himself into his grave, and so did my best friend," he said.

He supports a measure allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco products and their advertising.

Gatti would stop funding National Public Radio, and a lot of government agencies, like the Education Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There are so many departments that need to be done away with. I just mean completely done away with," Gatti said. "It's illogical to have an EPA when we have our own agency taking care of environmental conditions ... it's just another layer of something preventing us from building up business in our state."

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