Kate Gallego urges DNC for a Democratic Presidential Debate in Arizona

Democratic presidential debates in Arizona are a possibility in the future

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is urging the Democratic National Committee to host a Democratic Presidential Debate in Arizona. 

In a recent statement to the AZ Central, Gallego said, “We are ready and eager to host a presidential debate in Phoenix, and I have been in contact with the DNC encouraging them to choose our city.”  

Gallego added that “the Phoenix area, including our neighboring tribal nations, would be a great location to discuss many issues such as American innovation, infrastructure and protecting our environment — all topics that deserve additional attention in this campaign."

In an email sent out to her subscribers, Gallego explained, “Our state is the perfect place to discuss issues such as American innovation, infrastructure and protecting the environment – all topics that are especially important to our community.” 

A petition has been started to “bring a presidential primary debate to Arizona."

Mariana Peña, a senior majoring in political science and president of the ASU Young Democrats, said she would be pleased if a Democratic Presidential Debate was held in Phoenix or somewhere else on campus.  

The last presidential debate held on ASU’s campus was in 2004 when former President George Bush and Senator John Kerry contended in Tempe.  

“We are super excited and (are) supporting Kate Gallego in this push,” Peña said. “We believe it’s important that we can have a debate here so questions specifically on Arizona can be asked.”

Peña also stressed the importance of holding conversations that bring everyone into the picture, as she mentioned how Arizona is usually made up of an even number of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

“To get anything done, it does require a lot of nuance and being able to talk to people of diverse backgrounds,” Peña said. 

Professor Dave Wells, who teaches political science at ASU, indicated how influential a local Democratic debate could be. 

“There are lots of different ways in which politics impact people — if not immediately, then down the road,” Wells said.

“Arizona is one of three states where Hillary Clinton did better in 2016 than Barack Obama did in 2012. The other states were Texas and California,” Wells said. “I expect that Arizona will be one of the most competitive states in this next election cycle – and it could be quite pivotal.” 

Wells also mentioned that student involvement in campaigns and direct meetings with candidates could encourage young voters to get more acquainted with those who will be on the ballot. 

Arizona has long been known as a swing state, and recent shifts within the Democratic Party could categorize the region as a “battleground state” during the 2020 election. 

Change was made in 2018 when Kyrsten Sinema became the first Democrat to win a Senate race in decades. The 2016 Presidential Election also made waves when Donald Trump won the plurality (rather than the majority) of Arizona votes.  

Jack Bolla Morris, a sophomore majoring in public service and policy, agreed that holding a presidential debate in Arizona could influence future elections.

“Voter turnout in Maricopa County could largely decide how this election goes," said Bolla Morris. "If people in Maricopa County are excited and enthused and a lot of them turn out to vote, this state could potentially flip."

Bolla Morris also said that having a debate here could encourage more students to get directly involved.

“It would be a really great opportunity for students in the area to try to get involved with this,” Bolla Morris said. “They could help with a lot of the intermediate tasks, and at the same time, it’s a great hands-on experience for young people.”

There have already been four presidential primary debates related to the 2020 election.  The upcoming two will be held in Atlanta on Nov. 20 and in Los Angeles on Dec. 19. Six more debates will be held in 2020, with the final debate taking place in April. 

The Democratic Party’s primary election will be held in Arizona on March 17, 2020.  


“Kate Gallego” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 4. 

Reach the reporter at kdonohu2@asu.edu and follow @kellydonohue15 on Twitter.

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