Aug 16, 2012 5:16 PM by Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and businessman Wil Cardon square off Thursday evening in a televised debate with two lesser-known Republicans in the GOP primary race for U.S. Senate.
Flake, the front-runner in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, has been trying to fend off a charge by Cardon, who has spent millions of dollars of his own money on campaign advertising.
However, Cardon's campaign recently dramatically reduced its media purchases.
Former Youngtown Mayor Bryan Hackbarth and Clair Van Steenwyk, a tea party activist and Christian radio talk-show host, also will participate in the half-hour debate, which will be aired by PBS affiliates in Phoenix and Tucson.
The debate is being held 12 days before the Aug. 28 primary. The winner of the Republican contest will face Democrat Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Democrats hoping to keep control of the Senate have said they have a shot at capturing the Arizona seat now held by Kyl, a three-term senator.
Republicans generally scoff at that, but Kyl and Sen. John McCain have said they feared their party's contested primary could weaken the nominee in the general election race.
Flake is in his sixth term as a House member representing Mesa and other parts of the Phoenix area. Cardon is president of a family-owned business with holdings in real estate development and other fields.