The Rookies: Paul Gosar On the Rise in Arizona

Video: ABC News Yahoo! News Poll talks about Anger and The Tea Party.
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Paul Gosar is not your everyday candidate for Congress.

Asked if his opponent in Arizona -- Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick -- should fear him, he exclaims, "Afraid of me as a candidate? Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" quoting a catchphrase from the 1960s TV series "Lost in Space."

That was just one of many off-the-cuff quips from Gosar in a wide-ranging 30-minute interview with ABC News. It is clear that Gosar, a dentist for the last 25 years, is one of the most colorful candidates looking to secure a seat on Capitol Hill this fall.

Rated one of the Republican Party's "Young Guns" -- a group of the GOP's most electable challengers -- Gosar is making a strong push to unseat Kirkpatrick in Arizona's First Congressional District, running especially hard against the Democrats' most recent signature legislative achievement: health care reform.

"What better time to have a doctor in the house?" he says. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Sometimes it's a leap of faith."

But ask him why voters should send him to Washington, he points to personal, rather than political experience.

"I'm a person that has lived in Main Street America," he explains. "I'm a family man. I've got a wonderful wife and family. I've got kids that have gone through the school districts. I've started two small businesses. I've built my own house. And I'm a healthcare provider. Oh my God! A lot of these things come home to roost. I'm self-made. I'm a citizen. And I live in this district."

Gosar might not be a seasoned politician, but that's not viewed as a bad thing these days. Now, having sold his practice to pursue his political goals, he is riding a wave of Tea Party momentum as far as it will take him. In a district that has been held by a Republican for much of the past decade, Gosar is hitting out at Kirkpatrick for voting in favor of the new health care reform law and the economic stimulus package.

In recent ads, Gosar has denounced Kirkpatrick as "a rubber stamp for the Obama-Pelosi agenda" and "another big spender who's turned her back on the voters." "It's time for her to go," he states.

Gosar: Debating Whether to Debate

But even though Kirkpatrick is clearly vulnerable, it won't be easy for Gosar. Kirkpatrick has launched an assault on him for failing to pay taxes, avoiding debates, and being short on substance.

"Had to be chased down 12 times to pay his taxes, even though he's a millionaire. Paul Gosar looks out for himself, not us," Kirkpatrick warns in a TV ad released late last month.

In August, Kirkpatrick challenged Gosar to five debates, but he has opted to lay low.

"Paul has avoided debates and underwhelmed everyone with his complete and total lack of understanding of any number of issues. But more troubling is that on the issues he has actually voiced an opinion on, he's pretty scary-- he's questioned the constitutionality of Social Security, supports $73 billion of cuts to it, and has suggested that there may be no need for Social Security at all, since folks could just work until they die," says Carmen Gallus, Kirkpatrick's campaign manager. "What the voters don't know about Paul Gosar will hurt them."

In addition, Kirkpatrick's campaign is banking on a big turnout from the district's huge Native American population; one in five voters there are Native American, and Kirkpatrick is counting on a big turnout among those voters.

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