Martha McSally breezed through the Congressional District 2 Republican primary election Tuesday, setting up a rematch with Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Ron Barber in November.
Jobs and the economy, border security, immigration and the A-10 aircraft are prominent issues affecting the Southern Arizona district, and in the midst of Barber and McSally's campaigns.
Jobs and Economy
Barber said the region needs to speed the economic recovery, but that in the mean time there have been some success stories in retaining jobs and opportunities already in place.
"The A-10 jobs, 2,000 jobs would have gone if we had not won that battle, down near Wilcox, we had a power plant that could close if the EPA didn't do the right thing, looks like we're going to win, saving 260 jobs in a rural area, it's all about jobs in the end," he said.
McSally said there needs to be someone in Congress pushing to capitalize trade opportunities between Southern Arizona and Mexico.
"Manning at the ports, building the infrastructure so we can actually have the logistical hub that we need," she said.
Protecting the military bases in the region, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca, is also key to have a thriving economy in the district, she added.
The border isn't secure, both candidates agreed.
"I spend a lot of time down at the border, and the ranchers are obviously in a situation where they are having to make life or death decisions, it is a public safety issue, we have criminal cartels that are trafficking through our neighborhoods, as well as people coming illegally looking for work, but we need to agree that the border is not secure," McSally said.
Barber said the border communities do not feel safe. Both he and McSally pointed to poor strategies as a major issue.
"We have a strategy that keeps our Border Patrol back from the border, way too far back, they need to be at the border, where they can intercept the cartels...when they come across with illegal immigrants or drugs, and both of those things are happening on a daily basis to people I represent," Barber said.
McSally had a similar point, saying a good strategy needs to be thought out prior to sending more manpower and technology to the border.
Both candidates agreed there needs to be some sort of reform.
McSally focused on facilitating the process for people who want to come work.
"We need a pragmatic, step-by-step approach, include securing our borders to make sure we don't incentivize future illegal activity, and also reforming our legal immigration system ,so that it is responsive to our economic needs, and those who want to come here and work on all ends of the spectrum have a way to do it," she said.
Barber said the immigration system is broken, and that the approximately 11 million people who live in the U.S. undocumented cannot be ignored in the process of fixing it.
"We need to bring them out of the shadows, put them through a rigorous test, if they want to stay here," he said. "When we do immigration reform right, we are going to bring the economy up tremendously. Immigration done right...with the right restrictions...no amnesty, will make our economy better and stronger, particularly here on the Southwest."
McSally said Barber didn't fight hard enough for the aircraft. She argued the congressman hadn't even seen it as a risk until the fate of losing the aircraft gained media attention.
"He started to realize that this was a big deal for his re-election, and now there has been a lot of activity, but don't confuse activity with progress," she argued.
Barber said he's been fighting for the aircraft since he worked for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
"Working on Davis-Monthan long before Martha came back to run for office, it is an insult that she would suggest that," he said.
Barber added he won a major battle in the House when he saved the A-10 funding for another year.