ABC30 hosts congressional candidates in debate
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With the June primary just three weeks away the race to replace Congressman George Radanovich is getting testy.
All four republican candidates went face-to-face during a debate on Tuesday in the ABC30 studios.
They've all seen and heard attack ads and this was a chance to clear the air. The GOP candidates vying for a seat in the 19th congressional district pulled no punches.
All four candidates talked up their conservative credentials and their support for Arizona's controversial immigration law. Jim Patterson explained, "The answer is yes because it is an absolute failure by the federal government to secure our borders."
Larry Westerlund doesn't believe the law will lead to racial profiling. He said, "I applaud Arizona for what they've done. They've taken a stand."
All four candidates also agree farm subsidies should be eliminated. Jeff Denham answered, "Absolutely, I do think we can wean ourselves off the subsidies. It's something we should be striving for."
Richard Pombo added, "All the commodity subsidies and get rid of them all and to instead shift the money to basic research."
The candidates also dismissed TV attack ads produced by opponents.
Patterson's record as Fresno Mayor was challenged in one ad. Patterson said, "I did hire quote, high paid bureaucrats. 384 of them to be exact. They were Fresno police officers."
Denham appears in a benefit concert ad but he said, "It's not electioneering as you'll see on the ads. It says State Senator Jeff Denham."
Pombo was attacked for taking his family on a trip to a national park while he was serving in congress. Pombo explained, "My family did go with me on that trip and I paid 100-percent of the expense of them being on that trip. There's a reason why the liberal environmental groups are coming after me. It's because they fear me."
For the most part it was a cordial debate. But Denham said, "This is now down to a two-man race and I've challenged Jim Patterson. He says he's got questions for me. He's even called me a liar. Let's sit down. Let's go over our records."
Patterson answered, "I think distorting a record that people know about is a bad tactic. I will just answer the truth whenever that bad tactic is used."
Westerlund figures his campaign stands out amid the bitter battle between Denham, Patterson and Pombo. Westerlund explained, "Yeah, I think it does. People are tired of the bickering. They're tired of negative politics."
Despite similar stands on some issues, the candidates felt they were still able to distinguish themselves. The debate airs Saturday evening at 7pm on ABC30.
jim patterson, larry westerlund, jeff denham, richard pombo, fresno, local, dale yurong
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