Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 | 7:39 p.m.
Rep. Joe Heck and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera defended attack ads and traded barbs over women’s health issues, pensions and taxes in a tense debate that aired Thursday evening.
Oceguera stood by an attack ad against Heck that accused the incumbent Republican of being soft on victims of rape and domestic violence.
“I’m saying his record is horrible on women’s health issues,” Oceguera said during the debate on “Ralston Reports.”
Heck defended each of his votes, saying the ad misrepresents his record. He voted against a large state appropriations bill in 2007, which included funding for a number of projects, including a rape crisis center and a domestic violence prevention program.
“It was a vote against the process,” Heck said. “They should’ve been weighed on their individual merits.”
Heck said his record in Congress confirms his stance as being opposed to abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.
When journalist Jon Ralston played a National Republican Congressional Committee ad calling Oceguera a “world class hypocrite” for taking a government pension at age 43 and pushing for tax increases at the Legislature, Heck hesitated on the pension issue.
“I’ve never hit the speaker on the pension issue,” Heck said.
“Retiring at age 42 or 43 with a six figure pension is rather lavish,” Heck said after more prodding from Ralston. “But that’s the system in which he operates. I can’t fault the speaker for that.”
He said the public employee retirement system probably needs to be looked at.
Oceguera defended his career as a firefighter.
“I don’t know what the right age of retirement is for public safety workers... I served the community for 20 years,” he said, noting that Heck served as a United States Army Reserve colonel before retiring. “I was exposed to contagious diseases, burning buildings. I’ve had friends die. I probably will have more friends die.”
On the economy, Heck said he’s focused on “stimulating the economy so the private sector can put people back to work.”
He said “businesses are struggling with their regulatory burden and access to capital.”
Oceguera said his focus is the housing crisis. He wants to nationalize the state of Nevada’s Foreclosure Mediation Program and obligate banks to write down principals on homes. He also said he wanted to work on infrastructure projects, like the energy grid in Nevada.
Heck pointed to his record as one of the few Republicans to vote to extend some of the federal housing programs meant to help struggling homeowners.
Heck criticized Oceguera’s record in the Legislature, particularly his support for tax increases.
He claimed “at every turn” Oceguera raised taxes.
Oceguera said he supported taxes to preserve the education system and social services, and took a “balanced approach” to deficits by also looking at efficiencies.