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The New York Times Editorial - How to Win My State

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The New York Times

February 2, 2004, Monday, Late Edition - Final

HEADLINE: How to Win My State;
For Independent Arizonans, It's About the Details

BYLINE: By Janet Napolitano; Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, was elected governor of Arizona in 2002. She has not endorsed any candidate in tomorrow's primary.

The Democratic presidential primary in Arizona tomorrow is a wide-open contest for the votes of a serious-minded electorate that is imbued with the West's trademark pragmatism, optimism and independence. What other state can boast of giving the nation leaders as diverse as Barry Goldwater and Mo Udall?

Although Arizona's demographics are changing quickly, our voters remain proudly independent. A win in Arizona, a state without a favorite son in the race, would truly be a victory based on issues and substance.

Arizona is a fast-growing state with a rapidly increasing Hispanic population. With independents accounting for 22 percent of the electorate, no party claims a majority of registered voters. George W. Bush won Arizona in 2000, but Bill Clinton won in 1996. And while Republicans hold a six-point registration advantage over Democrats, Arizona elected a Democratic governor and attorney general two years ago.

What will it take to win tomorrow? To earn votes here, candidates should stick to the issues over which voters have expressed concern. Instead of Bush-bashing, tell us what you would do as president. Talk with us about your vision for an America that is changing almost as rapidly as Arizona is.

Some issues are as important to the nation as they are to Arizona, but there are a few Arizonans are particularly interested in. Arizonans care about health care. Too many of them cannot afford any health insurance, and many who are insured have concerns about quality. Elderly Arizonans are demanding serious solutions to the crisis of escalating prescription drug prices.

Arizonans also care about our economy. While our unemployment rate hovers around the national average, too may people are out of work, and far too many people are forced to take dead-end, low-wage jobs with few if any benefits. Give us your vision to create a more stable and prosperous job base that will offer job opportunities to people of all skill levels.

Arizonans care about immigration reform. None of us wants to see hundreds of undocumented people die in the Arizona desert each summer, or hundreds of thousands more arrested each year for crossing into the United States illegally. Nor do we want to see a continuation of the federal government's incoherent border policy that allows this state of affairs to continue.

Give us your vision for an immigration policy that is fair and enforceable so the federal government can finally begin taking responsibility for the mess it has made of the international border with Mexico.

Unlike many of the other primaries, Arizona's contest does not have a candidate with a home advantage. That makes Arizona one of this year's first serious tests of presidential timber. A strong showing here tomorrow will be a powerful demonstration of electability in November

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