The Skinny


Former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton, one of four Republican candidates seeking to oust Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has been endorsed by Arizona Right to Life.

"I'm honored that Arizona Right to Life has chosen me as the person they trust most to stand up in Congress for the values we hold so dear," Paton said in a statement. "All human life is valuable, and I will work hard to protect all Americans from beginning of life to the end."

In the Arizona Legislature, Paton supported parental-notification laws for minors who seek abortions. He opposed late-pregnancy abortions, public funding for abortion and public funding for human cloning.

However, he also voted to cut funding for Department of Economic Security programs that provide aid and intervention services for low-income mothers and their children.

Paton campaign spokesman Daniel Scarpinato tells us that Paton believes abortion should be illegal unless the life of the mother is at risk, or the case involves rape or incest. Paton also opposes embryonic stem-cell research.

But as eager as he is to protect the unborn, Paton sidesteps the question of whether he would actually want to jail women who seek abortions or the doctors who provide them. Scarpinato says those questions are "hypothetical" and that Paton favors allowing states to decide whether to allow abortion once Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Scarpinato says that Paton "supports restrictions on the sale and availability" of the morning-after pill—which is now available without a prescription, but behind the counter.

"Jonathan believes this is a state issue and would do everything he could in Congress to push the decision to the state level. Congress and the courts have overreached beyond their power and intruded in states' issues enough," Scarpinato says—which is an interesting response, considering the federal Food and Drug administration has traditionally dealt with issues involving drugs.

Republican rival Jesse Kelly is evasive when answering questions about the morning-after pill, although he goes even further than Paton when it comes to restricting abortion rights. Kelly says he opposes allowing women to seek abortions even when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Kelly tells us via e-mail that he's "100 percent pro-life. I look forward to the day when the law fully protects innocent human life from conception to natural end."

Kelly also sidestepped our questions about what kind of penalties he'd support for women who seek abortions and the doctors who provide them.

Republican Brian Miller calls himself "pro-life," but adds via e-mail that "it's easy to talk tough when the Supreme Court has already handcuffed you. Most of what we hear is just talk, but it certainly creates a hostile and divisive political environment."

Miller says he favors allowing states to decide abortion laws. He doesn't support new federal regulations on the use of the morning-after pill.

"I would recommend that all patients be informed about the morning-after pill and all related side effects," Miller says. "However, I am not for more federal regulations and restrictions on medicine, which generally result in more cost and burden on the patient."

Republican Jay Quick tells us in an e-mail that "instead of arguing about abortion, we should be concentrating on preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place and providing social services for those young unwed women who do carry their pregnancy to term."

Quick says he doesn't see a need for new regulations on the morning-after pill, because "the process of cell specialization hasn't even started that early."

For more on the candidates' positions, visit our daily dispatch at

In other CD 8 news: You can expect to see Kelly on your TV screens soon. Kelly made a big buy last week for a 30-second spot in which he expresses his unhappiness with the general direction of the country.

While the Paton campaign is being cagey about campaign strategies, we wouldn't be surprised to see him on our TV screens by the time this edition hits the streets. We don't see what choice he has, given that early voting is underway as of July 29.

Speaking of TV: The Congressional District 8 candidates will meet for a one-hour Arizona Illustrated televised debate at 6 p.m., Friday, July 30. Arizona Illustrated anchor Bill Buckmaster will moderate.


State Sen. Al Melvin, a Republican from Oro Valley, has finally agreed to debate his Democratic challenger, Cheryl Cage.

Melvin previously told The Skinny that he wouldn't be debating Cage this year, because he was too busy. Melvin beat Cage by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2008.

In a statement on his website, the freshman senator had previously written: "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."

But the "debates" he was referring to weren't 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 Town Council member.

"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," Cage says. "(At the Oro Valley forum), we had 12 minutes; we had two questions, and there was no rebuttal."

Cage says Melvin has a pattern of misleading voters and, as an example, 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 it was July 9, 2008, when the debate was held.

But last week, Melvin finally agreed to hold a debate. Melvin didn't get back to us to comment, but Cage says she's happy that he's finally come around.

"I absolutely think that people will be interested, and they'll come out, and my plan for Arizona will be much more in line with the voters of LD26," Cage says.


We told you a few weeks back about how Ted Downing, a former Democratic state lawmaker, is making a run for the state Senate as an independent.

By going the independent route, Downing is able to avoid a Democratic primary against incumbent Sen. Paula Aboud in midtown Tucson's Legislative District 28. Downing lost a primary to Aboud in 2006.

Downing isn't the only independent in the race; Dave Ewoldt, who has been active with the local Green Party, has also abandoned the party label to run in the general.

Downing figures that he'd have a shot at winning in the general election if he could grab some of his old Democratic supporters and win over the vote of a few Republicans, because there was no Republican in the race.

Or at least there wasn't until recently, when Republican Greg Krino announced he was going to switch from running for a House seat in LD 28 to running as a write-in candidate for the Senate.

Krino, a recent UA law school graduate and former A-10 fighter pilot, will need 214 write-in primary votes to earn a spot on the general-election ballot.

If Krino is successful, it creates something of a nightmare scenario for local Democrats: Downing could draw enough votes from Aboud to make a GOP victory possible in a solid Democratic district.

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