/ Modified jan 24, 2020 4:48 p.m.

Journalists roundtable: New legislative session, 2020 campaigns, impeachment trial

Plus, their approach to covering the presidential election.

As predicted in the world of politics, 2020 is off to a busy start. While Arizona’s Capitol is abuzz with a new legislative session, all eyes are on the impeachment trial on Capitol Hill. Plus, Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick also found themselves in the national spotlight. Lorraine Rivera explored these issues and more with local journalists Dylan Smith, publisher of the Tucson Sentinel, and Edward Celaya, opinion writer for the Arizona Daily Star.

On pressing issues facing state lawmakers:

“What sort of steps are we going to take for the future for our education system in the state?” Smith asked. “School districts are still really very pressured all over Arizona. Especially in places that can’t afford significant budget overrides.”

On Sen. McSally’s gone-viral exchange with a CNN journalist where she called him a “liberal hack”:

“I think that serves a two-fold purpose. Number one, to raise some much-needed cash. The fourth quarter just came out and she raised $2 million less than Mr. Mark Kelly. And then another thing is to kind of shore up her support from the right,” Celaya said. “This, for me, really looks like it was a way for her to tie her star to the president.”

On whether Rep. Kirkpatrick’s decision to seek treatment for alcoholism makes her vulnerable to a primary challenger:

“What we don’t know is how long she won’t be participating actively in the House, not being able to show up and vote, because of getting treatment. And if that goes on, some momentum might build toward somebody else jumping into that,” Smith said. “But the window to actually do that and build a credible, effective campaign is pretty short.”

On the significance of Rep. Debbie Lesko’s appointment to President Trump’s impeachment team:

“For those that are already supporters of Congresswoman Lesko, this is just another kind of feather to put in her cap. Something that she’ll be able to point back to,” Celaya said. “Ultimately, I think it was kind of a reward from the Trump Administration to a person in Congress they felt was doing a good job kind of carrying the water for the administration.”

Arizona 360
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