It may not be an all-out slugfest yet. But Wednesday night’s 5th Congressional District debate in Chandler showed some signs that the gloves are starting to come off.
A question at the end of the debate about energy policy gave candidate Kirk Adams, former speaker of the state House of Representatives, a chance to go on the offensive against his opponent, former Congressman and lobbyist Matt Salmon.
The forum, sponsored by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, was attended by more than 100 people who seemed evenly split between Adams and Salmon. CD5 encompasses parts of Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa and is solidly Republican.
Throughout the debate, Adams emphasized that he would have a fresh perspective on the issues as a newcomer to Washington, while also having a proven track-record of leadership from serving in the House.
But on the energy question, his comments became more pointed. He called energy policy in the state a “wealth transfer” and said that Salmon had sponsored amendments while in Congress to continue giving subsidies to the solar industry.
He also took a shot at Salmon in his closing statements. On the one hand, Adams said, there was him – a proven fiscal conservative.
“On the other hand, you see a Congressman who served for six years, with the two major bills he passed spending more money on solar energy,” Adams said.
Although Salmon did not return the criticisms, he emphasized throughout the forum that the voters needed someone with a proven track record. He likened it to making a hiring decision for a business, and implored voters to take a look at his résumé.
“I believe if you want something done, hire someone who’s done it before, and done it well,” he said.
For most of the forum, however, Adams and Salmon seemed to be in agreement when it came to the most issues.
When asked about what they would do to help spur job growth, they both said that they would eliminate taxes on capital gains and reduce the corporate income tax to 20 percent. Often, they would also nod in agreement as the other was speaking.