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Top Democrats bash one another, flex experience in CD3 debate

Raquel Terán and Yassamin Ansari, the highest polling Democrats in the race for an open seat in Arizona’s Congressional District 3, attacked one another and flexed past experience in a debate Wednesday.

Along with a third candidate, Duane Wooten, they aim to replace Congressman Ruben Gallego — who’s running for U.S. Senate — in heavily Democratic CD3, which encompasses most of Phoenix. 

Terán, a former state senator, began by rattling off a list of her efforts and accomplishments over the course of a long career in Arizona politics. 

She highlighted her work to recall former Republican lawmaker Russell Pearce and oust longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as well as her efforts to win elections as chair of the state Democratic Party in 2022.

Ansari, who worked as a climate advisor to the United Nations before her election to the nbsp; Phoenix City Council, touted her record passing of measures at the city level on affordable housing, heat and wages. 

Democrats hold the majority on the Phoenix council, but Ansari said she’s also been able to work across the aisle — something she said Terán can’t do.

On issues like border security, abortion, housing and law enforcement, the candidates stayed fairly aligned in their ideologies.

In an effort to differentiate themselves, Terán was also the first to go on the offensive, attacking Ansari for accepting contributions from donors who’ve also supported Republicans.  

Terán also touted that she’d earned the coveted endorsement of nbsp; Planned Parenthood’s political arm, and characterized Ansari as an out of touch millionaire landlord. 

“She changes her positions. … What I know is that we cannot trust and we cannot count on her. What are MAGA Republican donors doing investing in a Democratic primary? That’s the big question here,” Terán said. 

Following the debate, Ansari pushed back against Terán’s accusations.

“That is false. I do own one property in downtown Phoenix where I live,” Ansari told reporters. “I don’t consider myself a millionaire. … I do not have a million dollars.”

Asnari also accused Terán of xenophobia for criticizing her acceptance of campaign dollars from Iranian donors who may also support Republicans, but support her, she says, because she shares their background.

And she bashed Terán for not getting anything done during her time at the state Legislature.

Terán only introduced a single bill over the course of five years there, which didn’t pass, Ansari said. She says that the fact that Democrats are in the minority in the legislature is no excuse.

Wooten, a pediatrician, is the only candidate in the race who hasn’t served in a political office. 

He said that although he lacks the funding and endorsements that Terán and Ansari boast, he still thinks he can eke out a win as the underdog. And he emphasized his connection to the community, and experience in political work, as a sign he can get things done in Congress. 

“You can pull people together and not be necessarily sitting in the House,” he said.

During the debate, Wooten also emphasized the importance of getting a hospital in south Phoenix.

“It’s unacceptable that we have no tertiary care hospital in the south Phoenix area, so if you’re a mother pregnant in your eighth month and you start bleeding on 48th Street and Baseline, by the time EMS has scrambled to you and taken you to a level three hospital, the baby is dead,” he said.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.