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12 News holds intense debate between candidates for Maricopa County attorney

In an intense debate on Friday hosted by 12 News, the Democrat running to be Maricopa County attorney wielded the party’s national strategy of tying Republicans to criminalizing abortion.

Julie Gunnigle also accused her Republican opponent of covering for a Supreme Court justice who voted to overturn Roe vs Wade.

In 2018, Rachel Mitchell questioned then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman accusing of him of sexual assault at a congressional hearing. 

Mitchell said when it was over, Christine Blasey Ford thanked her.

“I watched Anita Hill get questioned. And I was horrified by the questions. And I leapt at the opportunity to do differently and do it better,” said Mitchell.

U.S. senators grilled Hill in 1991 after she accused then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Gunnigle also argued that the County Attorney’s Office, under Mitchell's leadership since April, has continued to run on two systems.

“The wealthy, the powerful, the well-connected and the police get a different standard of justice in Maricopa County,” said Gunnigle.

As proof, Gunnigle pointed to the former state prisons director involved in a standoff with Tempe police this year.

Charles Ryan was not charged with assault after having allegedly pointed a gun at officers. 

Mitchell said senior leadership in the County Attorney’s office unanimously recommended that Ryan face a different charge after reviewing all of the evidence.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.