Republicans, Democrats running for CD-3 debate on economy, border, abortion before primary election

May 23, 2024, 2:30 PM | Updated: May 24, 2024, 12:01 pm

PHOENIX — Arizona’s Congressional District 3 is up for grabs — and both Republicans and Democrats are hungry for the seat in Congress.

The Arizona Clean Elections Commission hosted two debates between primary candidates of each party on May 22, 2024.

Incumbent Rep. Ruben Gallego currently represents the district, which covers large swaths of downtown, southern and western Phoenix.

Voters can watch the Republican primary debate here and Democratic primary debate here.

Who is running for Arizona Congressional District 3 in the primary election?

These Democrats are running for CD-3:

  • Yassamin Ansari, the former vice mayor of the Phoenix City Council. She said she helped to pass some of the most progressive policies on climate, jobs and housing in Phoenix history.
  • Duane M. Wooten, who said he is an advocate and not a politician. He said he practices medicine full-time and plans to continue to do so if elected to Congress.
  • Raquel Terán, who worked in Arizona’s Senate and House. She said she led efforts to recall Russell Pearce, the author of controversial immigration bill SB1070.

These are the Republicans in the race:

Voters can select which Democrat and which Republican they want to move forward when casting ballots in the July 30 primary election.

The two winners of the respective primaries will square off against one another in the general election on Nov. 5.

What would CD-3 Democrats do for immigrants if Secure the Border Act becomes law?

The first question moderators asked Democrats was how they would protect people if the Secure the Border Act becomes law.

Critics have referred to this controversial act has a “show me your papers law” that could lead to racial profiling.

The question was timely, as the Democratic debate started at 6 p.m. This was only around 20 minutes after the Senate’s final vote to approve the law, thus sending it to the House.

If the Arizona House of Representatives passes it, the law will be on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 5. It would enable local police departments to enforce federal immigration laws.

Terán called for comprehensive immigration form, such as:

  • A pathway for citizenship for 11 million people.
  • A solution for the Dreamers who have been ousted from the DACA program.
  • Resources for the border.
  • Modernizing the asylum seekers program.
  • Providing more resources for the border.

“We need to make sure that we end for-profit detention centers, immigration detention centers,” she added.

Ansari, meanwhile, said she’d prioritize immigration issues. She said MAGA Republicans drive the narrative on this issue. Like Terán, she called for more resources at the border and better pathways for citizenship.

“Throughout my life, I’ve worked with refugee communities, and as a Councilwoman, helped direct $8.3 million to the International Rescue committee that does work both at the border and also with newly arrived refugees from around the world,” Ansari said.

Instead of talking about how he would help immigrants, Wooten spent his time trashing Republicans and saying Congress has no common sense.

Democratic candidates for Arizona Congressional District 3 on abortion

Ansari urged voters to look at her seven-page plan to support reproductive rights and women’s health.

“When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I immediately reached out to abortion providers,” Ansari said. “I drafted and enacted an ordinance at the City of Phoenix that would protect doctors and patients in our city from being criminalized by our police departments.”

Terán said she is endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Reproductive Freedom for All.

She also accused Ansari of taking money from MAGA donors. Terán said Ansari might be like Kyrsten Sinema, who “caved to GOP donors.”

In response, Ansari accused Terán of being “xenophobic, offensive and incredibly off-base.”

Wooten said his experience as a physician has made him face-to-face with the consequences of severe abortion restrictions. In fact, one of his patients is a woman who was pregnant with a child who didn’t have a brain.

“She had to carry the child to term because the doctors were worried and convinced that they may get filed upon if they were to do a DNC or abortion on this child,” Wooten said. “I do know two cases of friends of mine who lost patients because they were worried about doing abortions on a mother and she ended up getting septic and dying.”

What do the Democrats running in the primary election for CD-3 think of economy?

Terán said she wanted to rein in greedy corporations and strengthen antitrust laws to make life more affordable.

She also said the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have made Arizona more prosperous.

“The problem is that people in our communities are not feeling it yet,” Terán said. “When you have these type of policies, sometimes it takes years for to for them to really go into effect and really be felt.”

Ansari said her top priorities are raising wages and making housing more affordable and available. She touted her effort to legalize accessory dwelling units and approving housing units. She also promoted her prewritten plan to address housing and homelessness.

Ansari also said she supported business expansion, mentioning the new semiconductor facilities being built in Phoenix as an example.

“However, we do have to make sure that the people who are getting those jobs are actually Arizonans, are part of our unions,” Ansari said.

“I have worked hand in hand with many of our labor unions to make sure they’re getting direct access to TSMC so that they can … benefit from those jobs,” she added.

What do the Republicans running for CD-3 think of the border?

Zink said people who want to cross the border illegally should remain in their countries and wait for the proper vetting process. He also said sex and drug trafficking are huge crises.

“We need to sit down and make sure that we have legislation and that we secure the borders,” Zink said. “We need to make sure that that crisis is met head-on and that we prevent the military-aged men from coming into this country.”

Zink also called for a better pathway to citizenship for migrants. Specifically, he said DACA recipients pay money that isn’t regulated — and these payments don’t benefit Americans.

“They pay $500 a year just to not be deported. That is a $580 million to our government. What have they done with this?” Zink said.

Mendoza said he doesn’t like the idea of comprehensive immigration reform.

“I think the best route is incremental change. So small policy changes to just one huge package,” he said.

However, he didn’t have a plan for what those small policy changes would look like. He also said he wanted to double the amount of money Congress spends on the border.

“Right now, it’s about $20 billion. We can easily get that to $40 billion. So if we get that first and then we can start the path to citizenship,” Mendoza said.

He also said he doubted the moderators or Zink could define a human right.

“I’m just a regular guy that lives the regular life, but my academic background has been in political science and human rights,” Mendoza said. “A human right is a claim by someone on someone for something essential to human dignity. And there’s nobody else on stage that understands the technical theory better than me.”

Republicans running for Congressional District 3 in primary election on economy

Mendoza said he predicted the economy would get worse. He said he wants to stabilize debt so the country can invest. He also said the Federal Reserve is the reason for the economic strain.

“The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates high so that inflation stays high so that we can cut employment,” Mendoza said. “That’s the Federal Reserve’s goal with their inflation is to reduce employment. So, until employment goes down, inflation is going to keep going up and isn’t that messed up?”

Zink said the U.S. has to stop printing money and start investing in drilling.

“We have to put the Arizona people back to work,” Zink said. “Those manufacturing companies that have left and gone to China and have gone to other places? We need to bring those back.”

What do Arizona Republicans running in primary election think of abortion?

After moderators asked about abortion, Mendoza said there are more significant economic and social issues that actually threaten the nation. He said he and a past partner had a pregnancy scare and decided to get an abortion. However, they later discovered she wasn’t pregnant.

“Abortion should be defined as the willful termination of a pregnancy in the third trimester,” Mendoza said. “If it’s happening third trimester because you just don’t want the baby anymore. I think that should be a crime.”

He also called for better sexual education, like giving people condoms and setting up STD clinics, to stop abortions.

Zink, however, said he was staunchly against abortion due to his work as a pastor. He said Roe v. Wade should stay at the state level and no federal abortion law should be instated.

Zink also said the word “fetus” in Latin means “little child,” which means fetuses have constitutional rights that should be protected.

“It’s a body in itself, and if it’s ‘My body, my choice,’ then the body also needs to have its choice as well,” Zink said. “They have a constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Republicans, Democrats running for CD-3 debate on economy, border, abortion before primary election