What has been a quiet primary just got ugly Tuesday night when Andrew Walter and Wendy Rogers went head to head at a debate in Mesa.

The two Republican candidates for Congressional District 9 answered questions about the Constitution, the economy, the scope of government, immigration and much more at the Freedom Fires Live event at Burke Basic School in Mesa. This was the first time the two have gone directly head to head in a public debate and it was also the first time the two were less than friendly.

The first hint of claws came out when the candidates were asked a question about whether Edward Snowden was a traitor. Rogers said he was. When Walter said he was torn on the issue and glad to know what was going on but disappointed in the way it happened, Rogers called him out for not answering flat out.

“That’s the problem with politicians,” she said.

Walter was quick to point out this is Rogers’ third time running for public office and his first.

Sparks really flew later when the two were asked what sets them apart from each other. Rogers took the opportunity to point out a foreclosure in Walter’s past (she called it a broken promise and said Walter had the ability to afford the house) and a $100,000 contribution he made to his own campaign. Walter said the issue with his foreclosure has been resolved.

“I’m not perfect, but I don’t believe we have the ability in this election to vote for a perfect person,” he said.

In the past, Walter has brought up a comment Rogers made during an East Valley Liberty Caucus about phasing out Social Security. Rogers has clarified her statement, saying Social Security is not constitutionally protected. She said she would fight to protect it. Walter referred to that again, saying he didn’t know where Rogers stands on the issue.

“That’s not even a good ol’ fashion flip-flop, it’s just schizophrenic,” he said during Tuesday’s debate.

The two also took shots at their Democratic opponent, Kyrsten Sinema, who holds the seat. Walter pointed out that in the last election, Sinema won by less than 50 percent and a Libertarian candidate took about 6 percent of the votes. This year, there is no third-party candidate, giving Republicans a better chance at taking the seat.

While the debate was at times heated, both candidates promised to help promote whomever wins the primary, which will be on Aug. 26.

For more information on Rogers, visit wendyrogers.org. For more information on Walter, visit andrewwalter2014.com.

The debate was recorded and will appear on the membership side of the Freedom Fires website, freedomfires.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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