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CD 2 Democratic candidates to debate

Six Democratic congressional candidates will go head-to-head at a forum moderated by TucsonSentinel.com Editor Dylan Smith on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Responding to questions about their approach to issues important to Southern Arizona voters will be Matt Heinz, Ann Kirkpatrick, Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Barbara Sherry and Bruce Wheeler.

The 90-minute public forum will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Madera Clubhouse ballroom, 2055 E. Quail Crossing Blvd., in Quail Creek, east of Sahuarita. Doors will open for the un-ticketed event at 1 p.m.

The forum is co-sponsored by alliance4action, the Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area and the Democratic Club of Quail Creek.

The Democrats are vying in the August primary election to determine who will run in the November general election that will pick the next member of Congress for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being left open by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

Kirkpatrick is the former CD 1 congresswoman who lost the U.S. Senate race to John McCain in 2016. Matt Heinz was the Democratic candidate who lost to McSally in November 2016. Mary Matiella is a former assistant Army secretary seeking elected office for the first time, as are political newcomers Billy Kovacs and Barbara Sherry. Former state representative and ex-Tucson City Councilman Bruce Wheeler is again running in the Democratic congressional primary.

While the wide field of candidates precludes the event from being a formal debate, because of time restrictions, the six will be asked to individually weigh in on questions about issues the the next representative from CD 2 will face.

The sponsoring organizations and TucsonSentinel.com have solicited input on potential questions from the public — weigh in here in the comments to discuss what you think the candidates need to address.

Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.

Although the sponsoring political groups are submitting topics of interest, the format and questions asked at the forum will be determined solely by TucsonSentinel.com's journalists. The discussion will be videotaped and posted online after the event.

"We feel fortunate to have such a remarkable and diverse selection of candidates to offer our community for the CD2 seat once held by Gabby Giffords," said Miriam Lindmeier, one of the leaders of alliance4action. "This is our opportunity to learn who these candidates are, what they believe and what they will bring to the congressional table for our district."

On the Republican side, four more candidates hopped into the primary race over the last couple weeks, joining Lea Marquez Peterson in the CD 2 race. They are: Brandon Martin, Danny Morales, Casey Welch and Marilyn Wiles.

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Kirkpatrick, Matiella, Wheeler, Kovacs, Sherry and Heinz.