Daniel Wood Raúl Grijalva

Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva, left, squared off against Republican opponent Daniel Wood in a heated debate Sept. 28.

In a Sept. 28 debate that aired on Arizona PBS, Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva squared off against Republican opponent Daniel Wood in a heated debate. 

In 2002, Grijalva was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which spans from Nogales to Yuma and includes much of the West Valley. He has been reelected eight times, receiving 64% of the votes in 2018.

Wood is the latest Republican challenger attempting to defeat Grijalva. According to his campaign website, Wood is a veteran of the U.S. Marines, manager of Hickman Farms and is a “patriot fighting for American values” who lives in Maricopa.

With the Nov. 3 vote approaching, the two answered questions about the economy, immigration and President Donald Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grijalva, who was raised in Tucson, said he is concerned about the president’s economic reopening plans that could spark a second wave of infections in the country.

“This country, as we come out of this darkness that we’re in, the COVID pandemic, things are going to change. And the status quo of how we’ve had things in the past are not going to apply to the recoveries in the rebuilding this nation is going to be,” Grijalva said.

Wood, making his first bid for elected office, said he is running for Congress because of the country’s current political climate.

“I want to fight for just for the American people and let them know that there’s someone here other than these career politicians who is going to work for them and fight for them,” Wood said.

Grijalva called his opponent “someone that has the philosophy of Donald Trump, that sees the pandemic as a hoax, that doesn’t believe in climate science, that doesn’t believe in a full investment in the belief that the people of this state, of this country.”

Wood countered that the Democrat establishment is failing the public during the pandemic.

“We have governors and Democratic leaders who have stepped in and they’re taking away the rights and freedoms of American people,” Wood said.

The two were asked their views of the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A month and a half to almost two months before the pandemic became the item that the country had to respond to, the Congress had to respond to, the president of the United States was briefed on it,” Grijalva said.

“He said in an interview that it was true—that it was deadly, that it was going to spread, that it was going to have economic devastation to this country—for months, and nothing was done.”

Wood had a vastly different view.

“I support the president, I do,” Wood said. “But if I run for Congress, I also am going to stand up for things. If (Trump is) doing something that they don’t want him to do, I will stand up for that,” Wood said.

“The president had to deal with something that was chaotic. What he did is he took it step by step, same thing I had to do when I came to a traffic scene where someone was mangled,” said Wood, a former law enforcement officer.

The two also had differing views of immigration.

“It seems like what happens is a lot of these asylum seekers get caught up … in the court system,” Wood said. “We’ve got to protect the nation first because those coming over borders might have COVID. So that’s why we (closed the border). That makes perfect sense. We need to protect the nation.”

Grijalva countered, “Under Obama, we had the executive order of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) because the Republican-controlled Congress would not pass any legislation dealing with the Dream Act or any immigration legislation,” Grijalva said. “One of the first things Trump did was undo that executive order and take it to the Supreme Court.”