Look out John McCain. There's a new cowboy in town.
Stuart Starky, an eighth-grade teacher from Phoenix, is running against McCain for the U.S. Senate. Starky, a Democrat, recently made a stop in Payson to talk politics, elections and bagels.
Starky was born in Long Island, N.Y. He moved to Arizona nine years ago. He currently teaches math at Greenfield School in south Phoenix.
Starky has never held public office. He ran for Congress in 1998 and lost to Bob Stump. He said he is running for the U.S. Senate because he can be more effective at the national level.
"The issues that are most passionate for me are federal issues," he said. "A member of the school board can't put 47 air tankers in the air. A school board can't provide health coverage to schools."
Since his March decision to run, Starky has been moving his campaign into Northern Arizona. He had his petitions signed in Yavapai, Yuma and Pima counties, and is slowly making his way north.
After Payson, he was scheduled to hit Globe and Show Low.
"We are trying every day to go out and see some people," he said.
As a Democrat, he is currently in the process of gaining support from labor organizations and other party members. There are no other Democratic candidates in the race.
So far, he is financing the campaign through private and Web-based contributions.
On the issues
Starky said he aligns himself with John Kerry on most issues. The following list highlights his stance on current issues:
- Iraq: set a fixed date to bring the troops home. Allow the United Nations to work with Iraq as a sovereign government.
- Labor: increase the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour.
- Abortion: Pro-choice
- Same-sex marriage: "The very principle of equality makes it very simple to defend the legal right of two people to be married.
- Energy: wants to shift 20 percent of the U.S. energy demand to alternatives such as hydrogen, solar, nuclear coal and hydroelectric methods.
"Right now we have the political equivalent of a perfect storm," Starky said. "There are enough issues to make people take a look."
"I met him once. We shared a bagel and a hot chocolate at an A.J.'s," Starky said.
Although he realizes that John McCain is a household name, Starky said that will be to his advantage.
"I'm going to beat him because the issues are going to take him and a lot of the other incumbents out," he said.
Starky mentioned that McCain won the campaign for the U.S. Senate then turned around and ran for president.
"Hopefully people will take somebody who wants the job," he said. "I want people to take a good hard look at this campaign. America can do better."