Flake vs. Carmona race heats up - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Flake vs. Carmona race heats up

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Arizona has not had a democrat in the U.S. Senate since Dennis Deconcini retired in 1994. But in the battle to fill the seat of the retiring Jon Kyl, there's a tight contest between Mesa Republican Jeff Flake and Tucson Democrat Richard Carmona.

Pollster "Real Clear Politics" has moved this contest from "leans Republican" to "toss-up" -- Flake vs. Carmona, who was surgeon general under President George W. Bush.

In fact, six years ago Republicans asked Carmona to run against democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. Carmona declined.

Now he's running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat against Mesa Republican Jeff Flake.

Richard Carmona didn't join the Democratic Party until last year and he says he's running more as an independent. He believes that's an advantage.

"I worked very well with both sides of the aisle when I was surgeon general and I intend to do that when I move forward. We need American solutions, we don't need republican or democratic solutions. We need to bring both parties together," said Carmona.

Jeff Flake says he always expected a close race and believes his slow and steady approach will pay off.

"We will continue to take our message, pro business, pro jobs, economic growth, lower regulation, that will help Arizona regain its footing," said Rep. Flake.

Political consultant Chuck Coughlin says both candidates face stiff challenges in this tight contest.

For Dr. Carmona, he says the key is keeping his composure down the stretch.

"That is the pitfall of someone who has never run for public office before, that is, guys like you sticking a microphone in their face and people running stuff at you left and right," said Coughlin.

For Representative Flake? Coughlin thinks he needs to make his case more strongly.

"One of the mistakes the Flake campaign is making is not putting Jeff on TV more. He is a very articulate, handsome, photogenic guy, he can handle himself."

Carmona believes his crossover appeal will propel him to victory. Meanwhile, Jeff Flake, who ran the Goldwater Institute before being elected to Congress, has carved out a reputation as a thoughtful conservative. He believes that record will give him the winning edge.

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