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Arizona Attorney General candidates spar during candidate debate

Democratic AG candidate Kris Mayes and Republican Abe Hamadeh
Democratic AG candidate Kris Mayes and Republican Abe Hamadeh

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KAWC) - Republican Abe Hamadeh and Democrat Kris Mayes do not enjoy a friendly rivalry in their battle for the Arizona’s Attorney General’s office.

The two have traded jabs, through the media, since the August primary.

Last night, they met face-to-face for the first time at the Arizona Clean Elections Commission Debate.

It didn’t take long for the sparring to begin.

Hamadeh took the first jab at Mayes’ qualifications...

“I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve actually had to deal with victims, I put criminals away, but my opponent, she’s only been a professor of environmentalism, and a journalist, so I don’t think she has the legal experience she’s trying to claim,” he said.

And Mayes hit back:

“Again, he seems to not be listening, I was an Arizona Corporation Commissioner which is a judicial position. I decided 2,700 cases which his quite a bit more than the half dozen or dozen case you decided, or worked on, Abe, in the two years you worked at MCAO,” she said.

Hamadeh was a prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

He’s also an Army reservist with an intelligence background.

On the issue of abortion, Hamadeh offered few insights into the reasoning behind his pro-life position.

Nor did he react to recent court rulings reverting the state to a pre-statehood statute practically banning the procedure.

Instead, he deferred to current AG Mark Brnovich.

“I currently agree with General Brnovich’s position that the law is the law. I don’t want to make the law, that’s the job of the legislature, I want to enforce the law, and I think that’s an important distinction between my opponent and myself.

Mayes said her opponent’s leaving out a big component of the job.

“Did he get that right?” asked a moderator.

“No, he got that completely wrong,” replied Mayes. “Unfortunately, Abe, you forgot to read the Arizona Constitution which is the highest law of Arizona, and the Arizona Constitution has within it, Article 2 Section 8, which is an express right to privacy.”

“But she’s using her personal beliefs...” Hamadeh interjected. “She’s trying to use the privacy clause of the Constitution; no legitimate lawyer thinks that.”

“I’m sorry that you’re confused about the Arizona Constitution Abe, I know you only graduated from law school a few years ago, but the Arizona Constitution says what it says,” responded Mayes.

The topic of the 2020 election also brought some verbal fisticuffs, beginning with a question from host Ted Simons about some of Hamadeh’s tweets:

“Regarding some Tweets you made...I’m gonna prosecute the crimes of the rigged 2020 election, I’m not gonna just forget about the crimes of the 2020 election, I’m gonna hold them accountable. Your day of reckoning is coming when I take office in January of 2023. What crimes? Who is going to be held accountable? Who will held to reckon? What are you talking about here?”

“All Arizonans want right now Ted is free, fair, and competent elections,” replied Hamaded. “The media has shifted the narrative from saying there was no fraud to saying there wasn’t enough fraud to overturn the elections.”

To which Mayes jabbed back:

“And it’s rhetoric like that that’s getting our elections officials into a situation where they’re the subject of intimidation, harassment, and even death threats.

Yet Hamadeh insisted fraud happened, even citing a local case in his argument.

“We’re already seeing prosecutions happening, I mean, just the other month this administration prosecuted the former San Luis mayor for ballot harvesting. So there are cases, there is an ongoing investigation too, Ted.”

In response, Mayes brought up an allegation about her opponent’s own voting integrity.

“You know, my opponent knows a few things about voter fraud since he admits casting his own mother’s ballot in the 2000’s,” she said.

Hamedeh does admit filling out his mother’s mail-in ballot for a candidate she didn’t support, but says that was long in the past.

“I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that what I do at 15 would somehow affect me when I’m attorney general.”

Which gave Mayes the chance to slip in one last uppercut.

“I spent 30 years as a Republican, Abe, just one year shy of the time you’ve been alive.”

The Clean Elections Commission has two more debates scheduled for next week. Republican state Treasurer Kimberly Yee faces off with Democratic challenger, state Representative Martin Quezada Monday at 5pm. US Senator Mark Kelly goes up against Republican Blake Master Thursday evening at six.

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