CHARLOTTE – About a week from their runoff election, the two 9th District Republican candidates, Jim Pendergraph and Robert Pittenger, sparred in the taping of their only televised debate sponsored by News 14 Carolina.
While Pendergraph and Pittenger agreed on most issues, it got heated as they talked about trust.
In the beginning of Monday's debate, Pendergraph and Pittenger smiled and posed for a picture. The two saw eye-to-eye on most issues. including limiting the federal government.
"To get this economy going, we're going to have to get government out of our lives and out of our businesses,” said Pendergraph.
"There's no stability in the market. Companies don't want to extend credit,” said Pittenger.
Both candidates also agreed the size and scope of the federal government must be dramatically downsized to balance the budget and lower the national debt.
"Look at every department, every aspect of the federal government to downsize it,” said Pittenger.
"Do away with some of the bureaucracies in Washington, like the Department of Education," said Pendergraph.
But towards the end of the debate, the civil agreements on the nation's challenges became personal.
Pendergraph accused Pittenger of an illegal conflict of interest in 2003. Pittenger, then a state senator, voted in favor of a bill which annexed a portion of land into the town of Waxhaw that his real estate partnership owned.
"You broke the law,” said Pendergraph.
"I think it's a big stretch to say something happened," said Pittenger.
"This whole election is about the issue one thing: Trust. And when Mr. Pittenger was a state senator, he failed to recuse to himself on a vote where he profited greatly."
Pittenger said it was Waxhaw leaders and Union County state senators, not himself, who led the charge in supporting the annexation and that his vote was not unethical.
"This went to an ethics committee. There were no charges. Nothing came out of the ethics committee. There was no wrongdoing whatsoever,” said Pittenger.
Earlier in the debate, Pittenger accused Pendergraph of flip-flopping on a pledge not to raise taxes, an accusation Pendergraph denied.
The hour-long debate will air this evening News 14 Carolina at 8 p.m. It will re-air Sunday, July 15 at 11 a.m.
You can also watch the debate in its entirety on news14.com and on Carolina On Demand, channels 1047 or 1199.