If nothing else, Thursday night’s 72nd Assembly District debate reminded the audience of one thing: Politics can be brutal.
The candidates, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar and Huntington Beach business owner Travis Allen, came out swinging over political experience, taxes, criminal accusations and more at the Fountain Valley City Hall forum, which was sponsored by the 405/605 Tea Party Patriots.
The two Republicans are battling to represent the new 72nd Assembly District, which includes Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Rossmoor and Midway City.
Both had a lot in common, which is no surprise. The state’s new open primary system pits the two top vote-getters against each other in November, which in this case means two Republicans.
Edgar and Allen both said they oppose higher taxes, want to encourage business growth, support public-employee pension reform, and oppose Props. 30 and 38.
The Slugfest Begins
The fireworks came over their differences.
Throughout the debate, Allen went on the offensive, criticizing Edgar’s alleged mishandling of the Los Alamitos' controversial trash contract, his support of city ballot Measure DD -- which Allen called a tax on cell phone users – and his description of constituents as “the common people.”
“I don’t think you want to be addressed as ‘the common people’ for the next 12 years by another arrogant politician,” Allen told the crowd.
Edgar was more than ready to fire back, saying his campaign had received multiple endorsements – including all the mayors in the 72nd District, and the Democratic mayor of Santa Ana – and that Allen was lashing out to hide his relative lack of endorsements and experience.
“Who up here is the experienced person?” Edgar said. “We have no idea what this man will do when he gets up to Sacramento.”
Edgar criticized Allen for giving $2,000 to a Democrat. But Allen noted that Edgar was a Democrat until 2006, when he switched parties.
Allen also said Edgar wouldn’t sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes. Edgar replied that he’d signed a separate pledge to his district.
'Edgar is a Criminal'
The tensest moment of the night came when Allen mentioned an OC Weekly article accusing Edgar of alleged funding misconduct.
“I think Troy Edgar is a criminal,” Allen said.
Allen then asked Edgar to respond to accusations he illegally paid for mailers and campaign materials for his aborted congressional campaign.
The moderator asked Edgar if he wanted to give an answer.
“It doesn't really deserve one,” Edgar replied.
Throughout the debate, Edgar highlighted his experience as a Navy submariner, businessman, father and mayor of a city with a high budget reserve.
Allen described himself as non-politician with a successful business and strong understanding of finance.
Moderator Deborah Pauly, a Villa Park City Councilwoman, kept a tight rein on the candidates and the audience – at one point interrupting Edgar’s speech to tell an attendee he couldn’t record the proceedings.
“No cameras,” Pauly said.
The person turned out to be a member of the press, and Pauly relented.
After the debate, Patch interviewed four people -- two said they thought Edgar won, two called Allen the victor.
Fountain Valley resident Jim Orr said he attended planning to support Edgar but “got switched” to Allen: “He won me over. I think Travis is the real Republican and conservative."
In contrast, Seal Beach resident Judy Duvall said she thought Edgar won and criticized Allen for calling his opponent “a criminal.”
“I was shocked at Travis Allen, and not in a good way,” Duvall said. “I think he got down and dirty and low by making the statement.”