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Obama in Phoenix Wednesday: Here's where the former president will be speaking

Hobbs and Kelly will join former president, along with other Democratic nominees, at get-out-the-vote event. Mesa's Republican mayor is one of the featured speakers.

PHOENIX — Former President Barack Obama will hold a campaign rally Wednesday at Phoenix's Cesar Chavez High School, visiting a majority Latino campus in a largely Hispanic area that could help shore up the top of Arizona's Democratic ticket.

Joining Obama onstage will be Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, and U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and the program begins at 6:30 p.m.

Both Hobbs and Kelly are locked in races rated as toss-ups against Republican opponents, Kari Lake for governor and Blake Masters for the Senate.

According to a news release Tuesday from the Arizona Democratic Party, the other speakers at the event include John Giles, the Republican mayor of Mesa, one of several prominent Republicans who have endorsed Hobbs; and the three other nominees on the statewide Democratic ticket - Kris Mayes, for attorney general, Adrian Fontes, for secretary of state, and Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman. 

Rounding out the speakers list are Congressman Ruben Gallego, who represents the district where the high school is located; Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy; and Arizona Democratic Party Chair and State Sen. Raquel Terán

Information on attending the rally is available here.

Obama's visit comes six days before the general election but three weeks after the start of mail-in voting in Arizona. About 900,000 ballots have been returned statewide, less than a third of the projected turnout.

The historic challenge for statewide Democratic candidates in midterm elections is voter turnout. Republicans typically enjoy a turnout advantage in the mid- to high single digits.

"Democrats only chance of winning this election is by increasing voter turnout and increasing voter enthusiasm," said Paul Bentz, a senior vice president and chief pollster at HighGround Consulting in Phoenix.

Obama, Bentz said, "is the closest thing that Democrats have to a personality that draws crowds."

The former president is also going to a state where the current president hasn't gone.

President Joe Biden has made campaign stops this year in seven Western and Southwestern states, but not Arizona.  He's showed up in four of Arizona's five border states. The exception is deep red Utah.

"The president doesn't have great approval numbers in Arizona...  We all know that," said Tony Cani, a deputy director of Biden's 2020 campaign in Arizona.

But he added: "In a year that would be really difficult for Democrats, both the Senate race and the governor's race are very, very close."

For Republican candidates in Arizona and elsewhere, Biden's job performance has been the No. 1 issue. That's especially salient in Arizona, with Phoenix's worst-in-the-nation inflation rate of 13 percent.

Arizona is also the state where Republicans mounted the most aggressive efforts to overturn Biden's 2020 election victory. A months-long partisan election review failed to uncover evidence of wrongdoing. 

The current Republican statewide ticket is stacked with more election deniers than any other ballot in the country. 

Obama will be in Nevada Tuesday, campaigning for Democratic incumbents facing tough re-election fights.

The former president has electrified Democratic crowds during recent stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia.

Bringing in Obama as the campaign closer, Cani said, "is going to help on turnout. I think it's also going to help on that tiny bit of the few people that are left that haven't yet made up their mind."

Bringing in Obama as the campaign closer, Cani said, "is going to help on turnout. I think it's also going to help on that tiny bit of the few people that are left that haven't yet made up their mind."

Cesar Chavez High School is located in Laveen, a community in west Phoenix. Sixty-five percent of the 2,700 students at Cesar Chavez are Hispanic.

Cesar Chavez will be the fourth Phoenix area high school to host Obama since his election in 2008. 

Just a month into his presidency, in February 2009, Obama traveled to Arizona, the epicenter of the housing meltdown. At Mesa's Dobson High School, Obama unveiled his plan for dealing with the foreclosure crisis.

During his two terms in office, Obama also spoke at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee in 2013 and Phoenix's Central High School in 2015. 

Decision 2022

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