Felecia Rotellini and Mark Brnovich Battle in Debate for Arizona Attorney General

A debate last night between the two candidates for Arizona attorney general got heated quickly.

Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini hammered away at Republican Mark Brnovich from the get-go, repeatedly labeling him an "ideologue."

"I want to take politics out of the attorney general's office," Rotellini said of the office currently run by scandal-plagued Tom Horne. "My opponent has already stated that the attorney general's office will promote an anti-choice agenda. That's what an ideologue does, not what a leader does."

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That was in reference to a fundraising e-mail the Brnovich campaign sent out during the primary campaign.

Rotellini also wasted no time getting into the subject of her latest ad (below), in which she blasts Brnovich for his time as a lobbyist for the private prison industry. The ad links Brnovich to two high-profile escapes from private prisons in Arizona a few years ago.

Brnovich defended himself by saying the use of private prisons really isn't a partisan issue -- pointing out that the Obama Administration is a big user of the facilities -- but also tried to strike back at Rotellini by pointing out that she accepted campaign contributions from the private-prison industry.

"I'm just using the same logic she's trying to use," Brnovich explained.

Brnovich -- who's worked as a county prosecutor, assistant U.S. Attorney, and director of the Arizona Department of Gaming -- tried to paint Rotellini as inexperienced since never served as a criminal prosecutor. Rotellini continued to point out that the AG's office doesn't handle criminal prosecutions, and said it seemed like Brnovich was running for county attorney, not AG.

Throughout the debate, whenever Brnovich blamed something on the Obama Administration, Rotellini mentioned again that Brnovich was an ideologue, and it took a few rounds of that for Brnovich to say Rotellini's no independent either, as a longtime Democrat.

If you get a chance to watch the half-hour debate, you definitely should, once it's put on the Arizona PBS website -- which should happen at some point today. Although both candidates are experienced lawyers, Rotellini was a whole lot better at the debate thing -- instead of being cornered while accusations were flying around, she let everything slide right off like she was Teflon-coated. And although she interrupted Brnovich a few times, Brnovich tried to cut her off once, and she threw up a Heisman-style stiff-arm from across the table, and commanded Brnovich not to interrupt.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley