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Candidates face off in last GOP debate before CD8 primary
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CD8

Candidates face off in last GOP debate before CD8 primary

Campaigns wrap up as Tuesday vote approaches

  • Republican CD8 candidates (from left) Frank Antenori, Dave Sitton, Martha McSally and Jesse Kelly face off at Thursday's final debate in Green Valley before the special primary election Tuesday.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comRepublican CD8 candidates (from left) Frank Antenori, Dave Sitton, Martha McSally and Jesse Kelly face off at Thursday's final debate in Green Valley before the special primary election Tuesday.
  • State Sen. Frank Antenori laughs when asked what he believes gas prices should be.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comState Sen. Frank Antenori laughs when asked what he believes gas prices should be.
  • Jessy Kelly joked that gas prices should be 50 cents a gallon, saying he didn't want to give a higher response than his rivals.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comJessy Kelly joked that gas prices should be 50 cents a gallon, saying he didn't want to give a higher response than his rivals.
  • Dave Sitton said clean coal, nuclear, solar and more conventional energy sources should be tapped as energy supplies.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comDave Sitton said clean coal, nuclear, solar and more conventional energy sources should be tapped as energy supplies.
  • Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally called for the resurrection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to reduce prices at the pump.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comRetired Air Force Col. Martha McSally called for the resurrection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to reduce prices at the pump.
  • About 250 people turned out for Thursday night's debate in Green Valley.
    Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.comAbout 250 people turned out for Thursday night's debate in Green Valley.

The four Republican CD8 candidates vying for the seat left open after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stepped down in January convened in Green Valley for a final debate in front of approximately 250 people ahead of Tuesday's primary.

State Sen. Frank Antenori, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, previous Giffords rival Jesse Kelly, and sportscaster Dave Sitton yielded short answers on complex issues including border security, foreign policy, fuel prices, health care and jobs.

McSally again called for the resurrection of the Keystone XL pipeline as a means of lowering fuel prices.

"We need to be able to drill oil where it's available, because we're going to be on fossil fuels for a long time," she said.

Antenori also foretold of a future dependence on oil.

"Anything that moves should be running on petroleum, and anything that doesn't move shouldn't be running on petroleum," he said.

Nuclear power development and coal are the solution, according to Antenori.

Kelly, also blasted the administration and the EPA for prohibiting the creation of new coal plants, saying that 45 percent of the nation's energy comes from coal.

Kelly said America has more oil than Saudi Arabia, although according to the CIA, the United States is 13th in proven oil reserves, with roughly 5 percent of the kingdom's known reserves.

Dave Sitton called for a mixed-mode response, including clean coal, nuclear, solar and more conventional energy sources. He referenced NASA's innovation in the space race as a source of inspiration for industrial resolve to provide for America's energy needs.

Candidates were asked a question about where gas prices should be. Amid laughter and without pause, every candidate seemed to agree that $1- to $2-per-gallon is the goal.

The last to respond, Kelly said, "50 cents," joking that he didn't want to come in higher than the other candidates.

Border security remains one of the closest overlaps among the candidates. Asked about drone patrols, McSally called for human-piloted aircraft.

"[Drones] are like looking through a soda straw — they can't find anything but they can monitor it," she said.

She also said the Predator B unmanned aerial aircraft used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Arizona is too expensive.

Sitton again called for a combination of fixed-wing and rotorcraft to monitor along fences and vehicle barriers.

Kelly said he wants to secure the border against terrorist threats.

Antenori suggested less expensive blimps as a means of semi-fixed border surveillance.

McSally said that Obama's health-care plan needs to be scrapped in its entirety. Kelly seemed most bothered by the mandate portion of the act and called for an increase in personal freedom in health-care choices.

Antenori said he wants to protect Social Security and questioned the availability of funds for those entitled to them.

Sitton's primary concerns were over fraud, abuse and waste. In the past, he called on a free-market response.

The winner of the Tuesday's special primary will go on to face Giffords' former District Director Ron Barber in the general election on June 12.

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and mail-in ballots must be hand-delivered to any polling place on Tuesday if they were not mailed by Friday.

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