By Recker McDowell —
President Donald Trump will be in Phoenix for a campaign rally and on March 15 Democratic presidential hopefuls will have a debate in Phoenix ahead of the March 17 primary.
The events show the importance Arizona and Maricopa County will play in the 2020 election landscape. That includes the Democratic presidential race and Trump’s bid to get to 270 electoral votes and a second term.
The Arizona U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Mark Kelly is also poised to be one of the most competitive and most expensive in the country.
Maricopa County will be one of the key battlegrounds for Trump and his Democratic rival. Trump carried Maricopa County 48 percent to 45 percent over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
But Democrat Kyrsten Sinema carried Maricopa County 51 percent to 47 percent over McSally in 2018. That gives fuels to Democrats’ hopes that ‘red-state’ Arizona isn’t so red with population growth in metro Phoenix coupled with Democratic strongholds such as Tucson and Flagstaff.
Metro Phoenix – like other battleground areas in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — will show whether Trump can turnout his base again or Democratic constituencies that didn’t turnout enough for Hillary Clinton will be energized by the 2020 nominee.
In Arizona, Trump faces the dynamic of whether his rivalries with the late U.S. Sen. John McCain and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake might help his Democratic foe.
But Trump still has a strong economy in his corner and has seen McSally join him in going after the media. He has also been buoyed , at least short-term, by his acquittal on the impeachment charges.
The Arizona Democratic primary will also show not only how much energy there is with the crop of presidential candidates but also the kind of direction the party is headed towards whether it be a progressive such U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders or a more moderate alternative such as Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg or Joe Biden.
The question for Democrats in November is whether progressives will turnout for a nominee who is not Bernie Sanders, and whether moderates and independents will turnout for a nominee who is Bernie Sanders.
But the question for Arizona voters (real voters, real people) should be less about the horse race, political trash talk and Electoral College math. The race should be about solutions for issues that impact real people’s lives (health care, jobs, education and in the West issues such as water, infrastructure and immigration).
But we won’t hold our breath with the political discourse focused on Twitter storms, opposition research and media punditry.