July 30, 2004
They’ve met only once, but the candidates for state Senate District 8 don’t mince words when it comes to vying for the open seat in the Republican primary.
Though Sen. Carolyn Allen and challenger Robert Ditchey have the same party affiliation, they couldn’t be more different politically.
She’s a seasoned politician whose roots run deep in Scottsdale. He’s a relative newcomer to the political scene, aiming to unseat the establishment.
She favors abortion rights; he’s antiabortion. He supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; she wants government to stay out of the bedroom.
Ditchey, a spokesman for the Arizona Army National Guard, concedes challenging Allen in the September primary is "clearly a story of David versus Goliath — she’s huge." Indeed, Allen has until now run unopposed in every primary race in which she’s been an incumbent.
But he said he’s campaigning to return conservative values to District 8, which covers Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and Rio Verde.
"Our difference is that I am a conservative, a practical conservative," Ditchey said. "And she is liberal — not moderate — but she’s liberal. Her voting record and her position is left and she does not work with the GOP."
That’s a naive viewpoint, Allen said. It’s taken her a decade to fully understand that lawmakers must work together, sometimes outside party lines, to achieve political success.
"If you want to be a lone ranger, you will get nothing done," she said. "The reason I believe I’ve been successful is because every bill should not be partisan. I have been able to cross some bridges with people who have helped me, and I have helped them."
Allen made headlines in the spring when she quit her Republican leadership post to protest a roll call vote that she said was an attempt to embarrass lawmakers who don’t support a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
"The only reason that people like my opponent like to call me a (Republican in name only) is because I don’t march to the drummer of the radical religious right," Allen said. "I am a true Republican. I do not believe that government should be telling everybody in their personal life how to conduct their personal life."
Beyond the gay marriage issue, Ditchey said Allen’s leadership fosters divisiveness.
He pointed to a recent comment she made about having to wear "a bag over her head" if Scottsdale didn’t approve the planned $300 million Arizona State Universityoperated technology center in south Scottsdale.
"This is just not the type of healthy leadership climate that is going to carry us into the future," Ditchey said. "We need some new faces."
Allen makes no apologies about the statement. Scottsdale has at times gained a reputation among lawmakers for being a difficult place to do business, she said.
Allen points to her leadership role in crafting legislation called the Arizona Preserve Initiative, which allows state land to be purchased for conservation purposes. She also received the business-friendly "Legislator of the Year" award in 2003 from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.