The same week early ballots began arriving in the mail, candidates in one of the nation's most competitive congressional races debated for the first time. Arizona Public Media hosted 2nd Congressional District candidates Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick and Republican Lea Marquez Peterson at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Afterward, voters who attended the event sat down with Christopher Conover to discuss what issues they see as most pressing in their district.
Participants included Debbie Hickman, chairwoman of the Cochise County Democrats; Republican Cami Quist, a small-business owner in Tucson; Democrat Gary Jones, a geophysicist born in Douglas and currently living in Pima County; and Republican Ed Biggers, who moved to Tucson in the early 1980s and climbed the ranks at Hughes Aircraft Company. All four attended the debate supporting their party's candidate, but found common ground by the end of the discussion. Issues they highlighted varied and included the burden of minimum wage hikes on small businesses, slow economic growth in Southern Arizona and immigration reform.
The debate covered an array of issues, from politics to the environment and the border. Christopher Conover took a closer look at a few of the candidates' claims about the new NAFTA agreement and climate change.
When asked if the USMCA trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada is an improvement from NAFTA, Democratic candidate Ann Kirkpatrick answered that the deal's specifications remain largely unknown. Contrary to her response, throughout the negotiation process, details about the agreement have been regularly released. Arizona Public Media also reported how USMCA would affect the dairy industry and other agricultural interests in Arizona.
Republican candidate Lea Marquez Peterson's response to a question about whether or not she accepted the science behind climate change drew audible laughter from the audience when she failed to provide a definitive "yes" or "no."
Watch the full debate in the video below.
Journalists Jim Nintzel, executive editor of the Tucson Weekly, and Dan Shearer, editor of the Green Valley News, joined Christopher Conover in studio to talk about the candidates' performance in the 2nd Congressional District debate. They also looked at the U.S. Senate race between Republican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. Ahead of the candidates' debate next week in Phoenix, a recent poll shows McSally with a lead outside of the margin of error.
A statewide push to register more voters for the midterm election included outreach in Latino communities. Organizers for Mi Familia Vota told Arizona Public Media the group exceeded its target in Pima County and registered 10,000 new voters. While it potentially signals that the Latino vote is in play this November, political scientist Lisa Sanchez explained some of the obstacles that hinder turnout.
"The Latino community is very young. … We're talking about a very young population that is sort of prone to non-voter habits," Sanchez said. "Coupling it with the youth vote makes it even more sort of a non-voting population."
Sanchez said the best indicator if someone will vote is if they're mobilized. Since the last election, Latina mothers and grandmothers have emerged as strong mobilizers in their communities, according to Sanchez. "This is a really good indicator they're starting to take ownership of the socialization process for getting voters out."
Sanchez is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy.