by David Safier
Much ink has been spilled over Senate candidate John Dougherty asking candidates to agree to a series of debates and Rodney Glassman saying he wouldn't commit. Glassman's people have said he wants debates, but he wants neutral groups to set them up.
Score a political point from Dougherty on that one. But Democratic senatorial debates are gonna happen, one way or another.
A very different situation is shaping up in LD-26. Challenger Cheryl Cage has challenged Sen. Al Melvin to a series of debates. According to Cage's press release, Melvin gave her a flat out No.
Melvin sent an e-mail [in response to Cage's invitation to debate] refusing the invitation, stating a commitment to only two forums before limited audiences with time given to all house, senate and state office candidates. These forums are run by the Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene and with the SaddleBrooke League of Women Voters.
Cage has already committed to participating in the Clean Elections debate. Melvin stated that he was “not required to attend,” but looked forward to doing so.
The Grand Canyon-sized chasm between Cage's and Melvin's views could fill endless hours of debating time.
And one issue in particular, Melvin's love of all things nuclear — he wants huge nuclear power plants dotting the Arizona landscape and thinks Arizona should be the nuclear waste dump for the nation — is unique to LD-26 and deserving of serious media and voter attention.
Bottom line: If Melvin returns to the Senate, he'll champion nuclear power plants and nuclear waste dumps and have a good chance of having his schemes come to life. If Melvin loses to Cage, the foremost proponent for adding a radioactive glow to the state will be back home in SaddleBrooke trying to interest his neighbors in his nuclear obsession.
REPEATED FULL DISCLOSURE: I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I'm in LD-26, and am involved peripherally with the campaigns of both Cheryl Cage and Rep. Nancy Young Wright. That's one reason you'll read a lot about their races here. But there are other reasons. First, Cap'n Atomic Al is among the most flamingly dangerous right wingers in the Senate. Uber-crazy Russell Pearce, sensing a kindred spirit, has taken Melvin under his wing. And LD-26 is one of 3 or 4 LDs in the state where candidates from both parties have a shot at winning. So I would be focusing on 26 even if I lived elsewhere in Southern AZ.