The LD26 Debate Debate

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Republican Senator Al Melvin
  • Republican Senator Al Melvin
State Senator Al Melvin, a Republican from Saddlebrooke, is catching some heat over his liberal use of the word “debate.”

Melvin recently told the Weekly he would not debate his Democratic contender, Cheryl Cage, before the 2010 election because he is too busy. But in a statement on his website, the freshman Senator wrote, “One of the ways we are educating the voters is by participating in a number of debates with Ms. Cage, and those public appearances and comparisons will be very helpful.”

The problem is, the “debates” he is referring to are not quite debates.

For example, he tweeted about a recent candidate forum in Oro Valley, saying it, “had candidates for many offices, including mine, debating one another.”

But it wasn’t a debate, according to forum organizer Conny Culver, a former Oro Valley council member.

Democratic Senate candidate Cheryl Cage
  • Democratic Senate candidate Cheryl Cage

“In a debate the candidates have a chance to go back and forth with each other,” she said. “We were never trying to be a debate.”

When asked about his use of the word at the Oro Valley candidate forum, Melvin said, “I consider this to be in the league of a debate.”

His competitor disagrees. “Forums are not debates. (At the Oro Valley forum) we had 12 minutes, we had two questions and there was no rebuttal.”

The photo of the 2008 debate Melvin posted on his website
  • The photo of the 2008 debate Melvin posted on his website
Cage says Melvin has a pattern of misleading voters and points to his website, where Melvin posted a photo of himself “debating his opponent… on July 9” next to his recent tweets. The caption doesn’t say July 9, 2008, when the debate was held.

“It’s incredibly disingenuous,” she said. “I think he’s trying to make it look like we have had some debates… and to have this kind of constant disingenuous approach from him is disappointing and I think it’s disrespectful to the voters.”

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