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Arizona Republican governor and Democrat rival debate again

September 26, 2018
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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, left, and Democratic challenger David Garcia partake in a televised debate in the Arizona Public Media studios in Tucson, Ariz., Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018. (Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Gov. Doug Ducey largely emphasized border security and his Democratic rival David Garcia focused mostly on public education Tuesday in the second of two debates in the run up to November’s election.

The evening debate in Tucson was broadcast and streamed online live by Arizona Public Media featured three journalists asking questions.

Solar energy, water resources, income taxes and attracting business were among a host of issues that came up during the fast-moving, one-hour matchup that gave the opponents little time to respond to questions and even less time for rebuttals.

Ducey repeatedly brought up the Border Strike Force he helped create, a law enforcement initiative targeting border crime.

But Garcia said state roads near the border are not being patrolled 24 hours a day as necessary because resources from Arizona’s Department of Public Safety are being diverted to the force, a key part of Ducey’s re-election bid. Several border sheriffs have complained about the lack of round-the-clock patrols on highways.

“That’s another example of a broken promise by Doug Ducey,” said Garcia, adding that the initiative is “leaving highways open at night” to criminals.

Ducey declared he was working to “secure Arizona’s future” with the force attacking border crime like drug cartels and sex trafficking.

Border crime and illegal immigration are issues that run deep in Arizona and Ducey has stressed increased security along the state’s southern boundary.

Garcia, a military veteran who works as education professor, has focused much more on the state’s public education system.

An unprecedented teacher strike in Arizona shut down public schools for six days in the spring. The teachers returned to class after the governor signed a plan to give them a 20 percent pay raise: 9 percent in the fall and about 5 percent in each of the following two years. A previously agreed upon raise makes up the remainder.

Garcia said school funding still lags nationwide and that Arizona is among the worst places in the country for teachers, with many working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Ducey said he was able to come up with the money for the raises “because our general fund is overflowing with dollars, our economy is booming.”

The men differed on the issue of “school resource officers,” with Ducey favoring funding for law enforcers on campus “to make sure our kids our safe.” Garcia declared, “I am against weapons on campus.”

Throughout the debate, the men repeatedly retreated to their personal talking points, with Garcia declaring Ducey “a follower not a leader” and the governor calling on viewers to visit his fact check website on Garcia’s past statements.

The debate was less tense than the first one in Phoenix on Monday, which featured a sole moderator. The candidates that night sparred over border and education policies, with Garcia complaining about attack ads by the Republic Governors Association he said were “bigoted.”

Ducey did not address the ads directly.

On Tuesday, Ducey stressed his successes over four years, saying he had balanced Arizona’s budget and restarted the economy during his time as governor. “Our relationship with Mexico has never been better and we are able to focus on border security,” he said.

Garcia, a fourth generation Arizona Hispanic, said it’s time for a change.

“It’s time to elect a leader who is from us and is for us,” Garcia said.

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