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Students could decide Parker-Sinema congressional race

ASU students may cast the deciding votes for an untested Congressional district that could turn either red or blue in November.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, and Councilman Vernon B. Parker, R-Paradise Valley, will contend for the newly drawn 9th Congressional District seat, which covers parts of the East Valley and ASU.

Kim Fridkin, interim director of the School of Politics and Global Studies, said legislative and congressional redistricting made the 9th District more competitive.

Because the Tempe campus is part of the 9th District, college voters could be particularly influential.

“In a race like District 9’s, if the students are more liberal and they turn out, Sinema could win the race,” Fridkin said.

Candidates will work on branding themselves at the start of the campaign before they begin to attack each other, Fridkin said.

In the primary, Sinema’s Democratic opponents unsuccessfully pointed to her record in the legislature as evidence that she was out of touch with the common voter.

Fridkin said Parker will likely attempt to do the same.

While that tactic may not have been successful in the primary, Fridkin said it could be more detrimental in the general election.

“Parker’s campaign will probably be policy-oriented,” she said. “He will portray her (liberal policies) as out of step with the district.”

Fridkin said it is going to be harder for Sinema to attack Parker on policy because his lack of history in legislature will make his positions harder to evaluate.

“Sinema may try to paint Parker as out of touch with the ‘common person’ since he was mayor of Paradise Valley, an exclusive enclave for the wealthy,” Fridkin said.

Both Parker and Sinema said the issue of job creation will be an important factor in their campaigns.

“We have a very different vision of how to create a better America,” Sinema said.

A member of ASU’s faculty, Sinema said her economic plan includes keeping interest rates low for student loans and continuing Federal Student Aid programs like the Pell Grant.

“The things that are important to college students now are the same things that were important to me when I was a student,” Sinema said.

Parker said his platform will focus on the need to generate economic growth through fiscally conservative policies and tax breaks for businesses.

Going into the general election, Parker said he will contrast his conservative policies with Sinema’s history of legislation.

Parker, who sent his son to college this fall, said his policies focus on improving the job market so students can find employment after they graduate.

Parker won the Republican nomination against six other candidates, narrowly beating runner-up Air Force Lt. Col. Wendy Rogers, a local business owner, by 2 percent.

In the Democratic primary, Sinema squared off with former Sen. David Schapira, D-Phoenix, and former Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny. She won with almost 42 percent of the vote.


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