Arizonans will have a governor who supports full public school funding, gun safety laws and electricity made from solar power if a Democrat is elected in November. Candidates Steve Farley, David Garcia and newcomer Kelly Fryer spoke at a candidate forum at the University of Arizona in Tucson on April 7.
The audience of 300 was energized by the “blue wave” sweeping the nation, electing Democrats in Alabama, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and perhaps Arizona. The public event was sponsored by the Young Democrats of Arizona and of the University of Arizona. (Compare a private GOP candidate forum that attracted only 40 people).
Each candidate pledged to support whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 28.
Ranking the candidates
Things could change but I rank state Senator Farley as the front-runner. He is the only one of the three to actually be elected — he’s been in the Legislature 12 years an has been elected 6 times — giving him a statewide network. Farley has been endorsed by more than 50 current and former elected officials.
Farley’s reports from the legislature are read by thousands every week. He leads in fundraising, which is essential to staffing an election campaign. The 2018 1st quarter report for campaign finance donations will be released between now and April 16.
“I’ve been running against Doug Ducey since he first was elected,” Farley said. “I know exactly what needs to be fixed, how to fix it and being governing on day one.”
See the video of the candidates debate at https://www.facebook.com/dailywildcat/videos/10155402727248302/
I rank David Garcia, an ASU professor and former associate superintendent of education, in second place. Garcia has never been elected to public office.
He is pinning his campaign on bringing Latinos and young people out to vote. However, these demographics did not turn out for him in his unsuccessful 2014 bid for Superintendent of Public Instruction, where he lost by 16,034 votes to Diane Douglas, who did not campaign publicly. Skeptics don’t see a significant increase in Latino voter participation.
That said, he’s picked up endorsements from the Arizona Education Association, Planned Parenthood Arizona, Democracy for America, UFCW Local 99 and LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona).
“What is Arizona is most known for — immigration, the wall, Joe Arpaio, [ex-state senator] Russell Pierce. The common denominator is that our Latino community is under attack,” he said. “When we win it will be a national story. Because Arizona is known for anti-immigrant hate, we are going to elect a guy named Garcia to be Governor.”
Kelly Fryer of Bisbee is openly gay, a former teacher and pastor, and CEO of the nonprofit YWCA Southern Arizona. She has never been elected to public office and I rank her as a dark-horse in third place. Fryer decided to run after speaking at the Tucson Women’s March in January.