Hershberger to Switch Parties?

Pete Hershberger 

With the end of the legislative session, rumors have begun swirling that Senate Democrats have approached Republican State Representative Pete Hershberger to gauge his interest in running for the State Senate as a Democrat. The current State Senator for LD26 is Democrat Charlene Pesquiera, who won a narrow and surprising victory in 2006 over the Republican nominee Al Melvin. Most observers believe that no one was more surprised than Pesquiera, that she cannot win a rematch against Melvin, and that she has no intention of serving more than one term.

In the meantime, Hershberger is term-limited in the State House and is not anxious to run in a primary against Melvin, who thrashed the old incumbent, Toni Hellon, in the 2006 GOP primary.Hershberger owns by far the most liberal voting record of any Republican in the Arizona State Legislature and he is quite vocal about his liberal policies, taking pride in fighting against tax cuts and for tax increases. His Second Amendment record is an unbroken streak of “F” grades from the NRA and his lifelong pattern of voting with Democrats to defeat Republican bills has earned him the moniker “the Democrat’s favorite Republican.” A voting record more out of touch with primary voters than Toni Hellon’s doesn’t bode well for Hershberger, especially considering that Melvin beat Hellon by more than 13 points (10,924 to 8,303).Making things worse for Hershberger, Melvin is out of the gate early and garnering support from increasing numbers of party activists and many of LD26’s more moderate PCs. So it makes sense that Hershberger would listen to any plan that allows him to avoid a Republican primary in exchange for the full organization and financial support of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Of course, Hershberger’s family roots in the Republican Party are very deep, so no one can predict at this stage what will happen.


  1. Oro Valley Dad says

    Lately Pete has voted for the NRA supported bills. Not sure what his rating will be the next time around. As much as the Hershberger name means in NW Tucson none has ever served in the state senate.

  2. Makes enough sense that we ought to find out if this is true. If he is going to run as a Democrat, he ought to just say so now so that Republicans can quit supporting him. If not, then he should put this rumor to rest as quickly as possible.

  3. gop4ever2008 says

    Question: Is it true there’s a Democrat in the Senate contemplating switching to the G.O.P.? I keep hearing rumors.

  4. Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords had deep generational roots in the GOP, too, but he left the party when it became too exclusive and elitist. So, I guess Pete Hershberger could bolt…but I doubt he will, mostly because he does not need to do so to stay in office, despite the hubris evident in this post.

    Pete will thrash Melvin in the primary. His name recognition, built up over the years by his parents and himself, is vastly superior to Toni Hellon’s. PC’s are activists and are thus more likely to be conservative, but they don’t reflect the true leanings of LD26. Ignorance of that essential fact is why Melvin (and Jorgenson) lost…and WILL lose again!

    Moreover, Pete is a vigorous campaigner who takes nothing for granted. Hellon did not take Melvin seriously and paid the consequences. Melvin comes off poorly in forums and debates. He is uninformed about the actual responsibilities if a legislator and resorts to knee-jerk ideologically-based respones in a lame attempt to cover his ignorance and get reactions from his more strident supporters.

    As a Democrat, I’d be delighted to face Al Melvin again, but I’m betting that the GOP in LD26 is too smart to trust him with their nomination yet again. Sen. Pesquiera has done a solid job in Phoenix. She deserves re-election and is better suited than any Republican to represent our district in the Senate. She will have a tough time beating Pete, but she would wax Melvin.

  5. Solid job? What has she done? She has been a potted plant who has accomplished nothing the whole time she has been in office. I don’t mean that to be mean, but I would challenge you to find one bill, amendment or anything she has done that is in any way remarkable even for a democrat.

    Secondly, why is she better suited to represent district 26? It is overwhelmingly GOP and it would be better suited if it were represented by someone of the same party.

  6. So Rex the Democrat endorses Pete Hershberger over Al Melvin.

    Enough said?

  7. I believe Pete’s father, the late Pete Hershberger Sr. was in the State Senate.

  8. Oro Valley Dad says

    For background on Hershberger’s career and senate race please read this Arizona Daily Star article.

  9. So the Dad lost both a house race and the senate race? Hmm… Still, an interesting history!

  10. So he’s either going to run as a very liberal Republican or a very liberal Democrat? Gee, those lucky voters in LD26.

    Oh well, at least they’ll get a chance to vote against a very liberal something!

  11. I don’t think there is a current “D” state senator who is contemplating switching to “R”, however, former Democrat Sen. Bob Cannell of Yuma did not run last time, switched to “R” in the intervening time and is planning on running as an “R” next year.

  12. This post is just a political stunt intended on hurting Hershberger. His family has done more than any of us for Pima County Republicans and I question the intentions of the AZ gnat when posting this. It seems more like an infomercail than news.
    I have not made a decision on Melvin or Hershberger and plan on waiting until it is closer to the primary. However, if the post were about Melvin switching parties, I’d post similar concerns.

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