Putting Politics Aside – We have a Republic to Save


Who was the Last Man Standing?

A commentary by Cowboy Dave in his individual capacity as a Yavapai County voter.

June 28, 2024

If you missed the recent Last Man Standing debate this past June 18th between current LD1 Senator Ken Bennett, former House Representative Mark Finchem, and second time candidate Steve Zipperman, let’s just say you missed what many in attendance and several watching the livestream, referred to as the best and only real debate of this year’s primary season.

So, what made this debate different than any other candidate speaking opportunity? The answer is simple: 1. Ask questions of the candidates about their voting records, recent and past; 2. Present the candidates with questions of important issues and concerns to the voters;  3. Ask question which the candidates have not previously been confronted with and No softball questions; 4. Phrase each question in such a way that it requires the candidate to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive answer, for which they can be held accountable;  5. Allow the candidates the opportunity and the time to challenge and rebut their opponents; then just sit back and watch the fireworks.

All three candidates took the stage that Tuesday evening June 18th for this recent event hosted by the Yavapai County Chapter of AZRA, (Arizona Republican Assembly) held at the Warehouse Event Center in Prescott Valley. For the candidates, there was no getting comfortable and sitting down behind a table, as they faced-off with one another in front of an over-capacity crowd.

Each candidate had their own podium and microphone; you know, the way a debate is supposed to be conducted, where the candidates should feel the pressure.

Thanks to the excellent moderating by Ray Michaels of “GrassRoots50 and GR50FreePress,” this event was a resounding success.  Mr. Michaels read the rules to the candidates and the audience and then it was Game On.

The very first question asked of the candidates revealed what some audience participants said was a true indication of one’s own perceived status. Let me explain: Each candidate had an identical name card on their respective podium. Mr. Bennett, Mr. Finchem, and Mr. Zipperman.

Apparently, Mr. Bennett felt it more befitting that his name card be changed to read “Senator Bennett,” So, he took it upon himself to make the change. (See the video at 1:03.00 minutes).  Some in attendance believed that Mr. Bennett’s apparent self-importance was of greater value than using his allotted time to answer the question on the minds of voters.

This was live streamed. See the entire debate here:

Mr. Finchem and Mr. Zipperman both appeared to show they are closer to the people. Both of them were fine to be referred to as Mark and Steve, respectively.  That’s refreshing.

But wait, there’s more. As the debate moved on, many of the questions were designed to include a response of what the candidate would or could do regarding specific issues if elected or re-elected.  Each candidate, in my opinion, did their best to focus on their talking points rather than providing actual ideas to improve the lives of Yavapai voters.

At a specific point in the debate, it appeared that Mark’s voting record, while a member of the Arizona House or Representatives, may have caught up with him; he attempted to explain away his vote in favor of having the State of Arizona withdraw from the Electoral College. At that point things got very contentious between Mark and Steve.  I personally don’t remember seeing so many body shots since Frazier and Ali, “The Thrilla in Manilla.”

But wait, there’s still more!  Steve lands a punch to Mark’s previous financial campaign expenditures and accuses Mark and even Senator Bennett of buying their endorsements. Mark responded to Steve’s accusation as being out of place and very ill informed. It got very heated.  You be the referee.

Although Steve does not have a voting track record, the question which needs to be asked is: Did he offer any concrete ideas or legislation he would bring forward if elected? Does his repeated reference to being a lawyer for 30 years justify your vote, or is it yet another talking point? You, the voter, will decide.

In fairness to all three candidates, I didn’t hear any real solutions or suggestions from any of them. To be sure, there was a great deal of ego standing on that stage. Unfortunately, in my opinion, no one really scored a knockout punch and convinced me they are the best candidate. Maybe you, the viewer, will see things differently.

What I am certain of:  1. When you allow the candidates to engage (debate) one another, you see an entirely different side of their personalities; 2. We need more substantive engagement between the candidates and the voters; 3. There should certainly be less repetitive softball questioning from one organization to the next; 4. Most importantly, “We the People” need to remember we hold the power over our elected officials, and it is up to us to not be afraid to remind them.

So, who was the Last Man Standing?

I guess we won’t know until November 5, 2024. However, July 30th will be the elimination round. One of these three will be the Last Man Standing for the LD1 Senate seat for Yavapai County for the Republican Party. You the voters will decide who the Last Man Standing in the primary will be.

To be very clear, I write this article solely as an observer sitting in the back of a crowded room listening to the candidates’ debate one another, Not as the President of the Yavapai County Chapter of AZRA. Any reader of this article should in No Way take from it, my personal support nor that of our Yavapai County Chapter of AZRA as an endorsement, support, or preference of any candidate, as none is intended.

Cowboy Dave.

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