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Politics Get Personal in Arizona Senate

Arizona senators exchanged harsh words during a floor session Monday as Republican Sen. Jack Harper criticized the arrest of a Democratic candidate's son and was in return denounced by another GOP lawmaker.

Harper, R-Surprise, said the Friday evening arrest on drug possession charges of 24-year-old James Robert Pederson, son of former state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson, "points to a culture of corruption in the Pederson household." Pederson is running against Republican incumbent Jon Kyl for the U.S. Senate.

Fellow Republican Sen. Carolyn Allen of Scottsdale immediately rose to denounce Harper's comments as "totally inappropriate."

"This kind of attack has got to stop on this floor," she said, adding later. "It is one thing to discuss and attack a candidate. We're talking about a son."

After several other senators weighed in with remarks sympathetic to Pederson's family troubles, Allen called on Harper to apologize.

Harper, who periodically criticizes Gov. Janet Napolitano and other prominent Democrats during floor speeches, refused. "Jim Pederson's a big boy," said Harper.

Harper began his initial remarks by saying the state's largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, had demonstrated bias by publishing only a short story on Pederson son's arrest but had given prominent coverage to incidents involving Republicans.

Christina Leonard, Republic night city editor, said the newspaper had no comment.