I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight about Pete Hershberger, my opponent in the Republican primary for State Senate.

In his recent op-ed (The Explorer, March 26), Hershberger invoked the name of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater to defend his career-long record of over-spending while trying to defend his opposition to tax cuts.

For his entire career, Pete Hershberger has ranked at the bottom of the rankings of fiscally responsible legislators, earning “Big Spender” titles year after year. At the same time he earned “F” grade after “F” grade for pursuing more and more government regulation and for wasting tax dollars on corporate giveaways.

For this man to claim the mantle of Goldwater shows that he either has no shame or has no understanding of Barry Goldwater. As the Republican in this race who believes in less government, less spending and lower taxes, perhaps I can set the record straight.

In 2004, Pete Hershberger led the charge to increase government spending 19 percent in a single year. In every year since then, the increases have averaged more than 14 percent each year, and each year Pete Hershberger’s only complaint was that they could not spend even more. Even when the economy started to turn, Hershberger led the charge for another massive increase in spending that was opposed by the vast majority of Republican representatives. Hershberger and his Democrat allies prevailed and have saddled our state with its current multi-billion dollar deficit. Make no mistake, this is Pete Hershberger’s deficit.

Hershberger reveals his fundamental misunderstanding of Barry Goldwater when he begins his column with the following quote of the late Senator as justification for opposing tax cuts: “Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes – and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?” Goldwater was pointing out the hypocrisy of politicians who campaign as fiscal conservatives, spend like drunken sailors, then use the spending as their excuse for not following through with their promised tax cuts.

How appropriate that Pete Hershberger should inadvertently point the finger at himself in a failed attempt to excuse his liberal eight-year voting record. True Goldwater Republicans have an alternative who represents the Republican Party’s true values, and I look forward to taking that message to voters during this campaign.

Al Melvin is a Republican candidate for the Arizona State Senate, representing LD26.

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