Rep. Raúl Grijalva's comments two years ago about boycotting Arizona continue to attract new challengers at election time, but the five-term congressman says this election isn't about those comments.

The three candidates in the heavily Hispanic, heavily Democratic District 3 are more alike than different.

They all list job creation as a top priority. Each supports the Affordable Care Act and says there's more to be done on a health-care overhaul. Each is opposed to SB 1070.

Where they differ is mainly in their experience levels and their geographical voter bases.

Still, Tucson physician Manny Arreguin and Yuma businesswoman Amanda Aguirre will try to put Grijalva on defense for the boycott comments.

"Sometimes he's more concerned about his congressional job than providing jobs for the people who helped get him into office," Arreguin said.

"My vision is to be more representative of Arizona, and I would never call for a boycott when businesses are hurting," Aguirre said.

Grijalva defended himself, saying: "I think I have an obligation to raise my voice, and I did, and there was consequences to it. But I think they're running on a one-trick pony."

He said his opponents are running "an anti-Raúl race" instead of providing a public policy choice.

Arreguin said Grijalva's boycott comments missed their mark of hitting political leaders and ultimately hurt workers such as electricians and maids, who lost work when Arizona lost business because of the boycott.

Each candidate has a different view on whether voters should elect someone with political experience.

Grijalva said both experience and consistency are important, so voters should elect someone like him.

Aguirre said voters should choose someone with both political and business experience - someone like her.

And Arreguin said voters want an unconventional, moderate citizen legislator like him, not a "seasoned politician" such as Grijalva and former state Sen. Aguirre.

"One of the things we're seeing across the country is that incumbents are losing races to unconventional candidates," Arreguin said.

"When you look at Congress in general, there's a 9 percent approval rating," he added. "You wouldn't go to a doctor who had a 9 percent approval rating. ... So why is it that we find that acceptable in Congress?"

Aguirre agreed that voters are "upset with what's going on in Washington, D.C. Nothing is moving forward, and they relate Grijalva to that problem."

Grijalva said it's wishful thinking by his opponents that he would "inherit that ire."

"Voters can make the distinction, and I trust their judgment," he said.

He said the obstruction in Congress comes primarily from tea-party members and other Republicans. Aguirre and Arreguin are naive or unrealistic if they think they can work through that blockage any better than he has, Grijalva added.

Grijalva said more significant than his experience is his consistency. He hasn't switched parties like Arreguin or turned his back on labor or the environment like Aguirre, he said.

Just like he doesn't have the knowledge to deliver babies or run a health center, he said, they don't have the knowledge to work on the federal budget.

The battleground in the new District 3 could be in the southwestern part of Maricopa County. While about half of the registered Democrats in the new district are in Pima County, nearly a quarter live in Maricopa County, in places including Buckeye, Avondale and Litchfield Park. The candidates are spending a lot of time there introducing themselves to voters.

Democrats debate

A candidate forum with Amanda Aguirre, Manny Arreguin and Rep. Raúl Grijalva is planned as a special edition of "Arizona Illustrated."

• When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

• Watch: KUAT or at

Debate in Rio Rico

The Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District will host a candidate forum for both Democrats and Republicans in CD3.

• When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16

• Where: Rio Rico High School cafeteria, 590 Camino Lito Galindo

MOre inside and online

See where the CD3 candidates stand on issues. Page A6

On StarNet: A breakdown of Tucson-area races, voter resources and links to political news coverage can be found at elections

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346.