Editorial board, The Republic | azcentral.com

Voters often say they want legislators who will show courage by putting the public good ahead of their self interest.

This election will give them a chance to show if they really mean it.

Several Republican incumbents face hotly contested elections because they put Arizona’s interests first by supporting Gov. Jan Brewer’s call for Medicaid expansion. The math argument for the vote is solid; it makes the most sense for taxpayers.

But ideologically rigid Republicans don’t care. Expansion is tied to the Affordable Care Act, so anyone who voted for it is a “legis-traitor.”

Such is the state of public discourse.

Here’s why the vote makes sense. Voters approved an initiative that makes childless adults earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid. During the depth of the recession, the Legislature kicked many of those people off the rolls. Courts inevitably will require the Legislature to abide by the voters’ wishes.

The feds would pay most of the bill if the state expanded eligibility to 133 percent, with the rest coming from hospitals. Rejecting the federal offer meant the state would have to pay the full freight to get to 100 percent, with money it does not have. It seems a simple choice.

It was for state Sen. Bob Worsley and state Reps. Heather Carter, Doug Coleman, Frank Pratt, Bob Robson and T.J. Shope, though they knew their votes could cost them their seats. They now face vigorous challenges, supported by independent expenditure committees, for voting their conscience. Not to mention, putting taxpayers first.

This is a key moment for Arizona. We face a choice between a Legislature blindly marching in ideological lockstep or one of diverse voices, in which pragmatism has a place. Unblinking ideology has too often exposed Arizona to ridicule.

We prefer pragmatism. We recommend Worsley, Carter, Coleman, Pratt, Robson and Shope in the Aug. 26 Republican primary.