“In politics, there are no right answers, only a continuing series of compromises between groups resulting in a changing, cloudy and ambiguous series of public decisions, where appetite and ambition compete openly with knowledge and wisdom. That’s politics.”

— U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson

It’s still uncomfortable for The Explorer’s new “regime” (an ugly descriptive, that) to make endorsements for political office. We are nine months in, and learning more about this place and its people every day.

Further, voters casting ballots now through Sept. 2 are making decisions about candidates within their political parties. While Arizona has an “open” primary system, allowing people to cross over and Independents to affiliate, it’s still up to the Republicans and Democrats to decide who they want to move forward to the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

So we let them make their decisions, even though the temptation to endorse is terrific in a race like Pima County Supervisor District 1, where Republican incumbent Ann Day faces the challenge of businessman Joe Higgins, and there is no Democrat on the ballot. Shame on the Democrats for that.

Over these years, we’ve taken to calling them “suggestions” rather than “endorsements.” A majority of those who have been “suggested” by this writer have, in fact, lost. Comment is intended only to draw further comment, to get people thinking, to get people talking about the vital decisions before the voters.

The most interesting contest on this ballot is one that pits a longtime legislator, Rep. Pete Hershberger, and SaddleBrooke resident Al Melvin for the Republican Senate District 26 nomination.

For weeks now, they have shared podiums and platforms, Melvin the more consistent critic, Hershberger internally wincing at the blows while publicly standing up for his beliefs. On the surface, it’s been pretty civil, a credit to both.

Each is establishing himself on the liberal-conservative scale. Melvin is clearly farthest right (despite his “clean elections” participation), vocal in support of subjects like private school vouchers, constitutional amendments to define marriage, and unanimity with political party. It’s difficult to imagine the stern Melvin negotiating with anyone over, well, just about anything.

Hershberger has distanced himself from the far right in the Legislature, a place he says is beset with ideologues who put politics first, and the state of Arizona second, to our collective disservice. Melvin would suggest Hershberger’s self-described “statesmanship” is really a cave-in to the Democrats. Hershberger’s reply is that without compromise, nothing happens.

Hershberger comes from political lineage, and has made a career in legislating. He knows that the career is finite. He knows better than everyone that legislators must make extremely difficult decisions under enormous, conflicting pressures, and then come home to explain those decisions and defend their records. The process is, truly, a continuing series of compromises.

With this election, the Republican voters of District 26 are going to position their party on the scale that extends from left to right. Just how conservative is the GOP in northwest Tucson? What’s to stop Independents and Democrats from joining the Republican Party for a day, getting the Republican they want on the ballot (it’s a tight race, we suspect), then roaring toward November? For right now, this is a Democratic seat, and Marana businesswoman and District 26 Democratic nominee Cheryl Cage certainly recognizes her opportunity if the Republican nominee doesn’t have a consensus within his own party.

Our thanks to both Hershberger and Melvin for putting themselves out there. Our thanks to you for reading, and for participating.

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