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2 Democrats vie for chance to challenge US Rep. McSally

Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele face off in the Democratic primary in CD2.

Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele face off in the Democratic primary in CD2.

At first glance, the Democrats running for U.S. House in the southeast Arizona district that includes most of Tucson are a lot alike.

Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele are both former state lawmakers, elected twice, who call the Tucson area home. Both say they want to bring more jobs to Arizona.

But the candidates say they each bring a different outlook and background to the Democratic primary.

Heinz and Steele are vying for a chance to go up against incumbent U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, a first-term Republican who won the seat by only 167 votes in 2014. The November contest is expected to be competitive and one of the most closely watched in the nation.

Heinz, a practicing physician, says his experience as a doctor gives him unique insight into the struggles Americans face. Steele, a former television and radio news anchor and mental health counselor, says her progressive stances on issues like women’s rights and immigration more strongly represent the 2nd Congressional District.

Heinz was elected to the Legislature in 2008 and served until January 2013. He touts his record of working with the Republican majority on passing bills aimed at veterans’ issues and improving health care and care for seniors.

“The main thing that I’m hearing from the voters is they’re frustrated with just typical Washington, D.C., politics, and Martha McSally … is more of the same,” Heinz said. “Really what it comes down to is that we have to have the strongest Democrat capable of challenging Martha McSally, and I believe I am that candidate.”

Steele was elected to the Legislature in 2012 and resigned in January to focus on her congressional campaign. She says her background as a mental health counselor helped her forge strong relationships with Republicans. She says that led to the passage of several bills she pushed, including funding for mental health first aid, more money for U.S. customs officers at ports of entry and aid for victims of human sex trafficking.

“I think more than ever people want someone who will represent their values,” Steele said. “It comes down to the issues. What helps the hardworking families?”

Heinz and Steele say they’re determined to bring jobs to the state. Heinz says he’d like to focus on solar energy and roads and infrastructure. Steele is interested in a high-speed rail line between Tucson and Phoenix. Both say seniors need more legislative protections, including strengthening and expanding the social security system and Medicare.

For example, Heinz wants Medicare to be allowed to negotiate prices on prescription medications, and he supports the Affordable Care Act, which he helped implement as the former director for provider outreach with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We have so much further to go. We have six or seven million Americans in states like Georgia and Florida, where there’s been no Medicaid expansion. That really has to be addressed,” Heinz said.

Steele believes the minimum wage should be raised, and working families need more affordable child care.

“People in this country should not be working full-time and not being able to make ends meet,” Steele said. “As a single mom, I really get that.”

The state’s primary will be held Aug. 30. The winner will face McSally ai??i?? who is unopposed in the primaries ai??i?? in the general election Nov. 8.

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