Elections

Watch Debates of "Lesser-Known" Republican Presidential Candidates in Arizona


Millions of people will tune in to the Republican presidential candidate debate in Mesa tomorrow, an event that could help decide the outcome of the upcoming primary election.

Yet it's possible (and just about as likely as a summer snowcap on Piestewa Peak) that voters have made up their minds based on two debates of Republican candidates that took place over the weekend in Tucson.

Yeah, those debates didn't receive as much news coverage as the Mesa one's getting. But we invite you to check out these two hour-long programs, if for nothing but the comic relief.

The Tucson Weekly, in conjunction with Access Tucson and Project White House, hosted the two televised debates featuring "dark horse" candidates whose names will appear on the primary election ballot.

Judging from our fairly rapid scan-through of the debate videos, the nine Arizona "dark horse" candidates are thoughtful citizens with a lot to say about America's problems and potential solutions. But presidential material? Um, not quite.

At least the weekly knew how to set the proper tone for the lesser debates, with California  journalist Dave Maass guiding the panel through questions both serious and silly, and University of Arizona journalism student Amanda Hurley preventing things from getting too out of hand with her stoic countenance.



The candidates discussed the budget, health care and defense -- but left time to cover important issues like whether killer whales and zombies had civil rights. (Three members of the panel said they'd give zombies the right to vote.)

Sarah Gonzales, a poet, states that pictures of Rick Santorum, posted wherever people might be having sex, would provide effective birth control.

Donald Benjamin says he would try to regulate how items are displayed in grocery stores.

Peter "Simon" Bollander suggests moving the country's prisoners to an island and worries that too many politicians don't understand economics.

And so on.

Tomorrow night's debate with Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul might look and sound more polished than Arizona's dark horses did, (except for Paul, of course).

The pros are better at slinging bull, that's all.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern