Augustine “Auggie” Bartning and Kathleen “Katie” Hobbs are vying to represent district 24, which includes ASU’s Downtown campus, in the state Senate. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Learn more about Hobbs’ platform.
How can a Republican have a chance at winning the state Senate seat in the Democratic District 24? That’s what some ask about Augustine “Auggie” Bartning, an Arizona native new to the political scene.
Bartning’s strategy is to promote himself as a moderate Republican – someone who is fiscally conservative but socially moderate.
“I’m Catholic, but I always try to associate logic as well with political laws,” Bartning said. “We do have to respect the separation of church and state clause, but not to the detriment really of either side.”
Being a moderate Republican also means he won’t always stick to party lines, Bartning said.
“I think I’ll stick to what I think is the right thing to do, what’s best for this district as opposed to just voting the party line,” he said.
For example, Bartning said he differs from state Republicans on SB1070. Bartning said he is glad the bill sent a message to the federal government, but it is not the proper way to address illegal immigration.
“When you’re creating laws that are really difficult to enforce, what you end up having are a lot of people breaking the law,” Bartning said.
Another way Bartning separates himself from mainstream Republicans is his opinion on Proposition 115. The proposition would give the governor more power in electing judges and the Arizona State Bar Association less, according to ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
Bartning said he believes there should be a separation between elected officials and judges and will not support the proposition.
Bartning doesn’t stray far from the Republican majority on other issues. He is strongly against Prop 204, which would make permanent the 1-cent temporary sales tax for education, public transportation and human services voted for in 2010.
The tax would put a burden on middle and lower income households, Bartning said.
“You can’t just throw money into the system that has some challenges,” he said.
Downtown campus student government President Joseph Grossman agrees with Bartning. Grossman emphasizes that the tax would be permanent and that not all of its revenue would go toward education.
“He’s not saying he doesn’t support education. He does support education,” Grossman said.
Bartning said he would prefer reforming education by looking at a school’s administration, examining how money is appropriated and analyzing how students learn. He wants to evaluate schools based on a competency measure.
Tea party Republican Bob Thomas, a former candidate for state Senate and head of Project 2012, described Bartning as an impressive, young, moderate Republican and a proven leader.
Attending First Fridays is one way Bartning has campaigned downtown.
“I didn’t meet a lot of Republicans there,” Bartning said. “There’s a different kind of community than you would see at some more Republican specific event.”
However, Bartning enjoyed the event and the arts culture surrounding it.
In April, Bartning began to consider running for state Senate. After three weeks of gathering signatures, he filed his paper work.
Bartning was born in Arizona and graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. His political experience includes an internship with former Arizona Republican congressman John Shadegg and fundraising and campaigning for political candidates.
He also worked various consultant jobs, including one in higher education.
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Correction: Nov. 2, 2012
A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Bartning as saying “supposed” instead of “opposed” when he said he wanted to do what was best for his district as opposed to voting the party line.