Two parties, one uphill challenge - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Two parties, one uphill challenge

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Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 6:06 am | Updated: 7:39 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Teresa Ottesen, meet Elizabeth Rogers. Ottesen is the 25-year-old Republican and political neophyte who said she plans to run against Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, next year.

Rogers was the 25-year-old Democrat and political neophyte who ran against Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., last year.

Despite their opposite party affiliations, there are certain similarities to the young women’s quests.

Ottesen, a Scottsdale resident, is challenging an incumbent with strong polling numbers. Rogers, a Tempe resident, also challenged an incumbent with strong polling numbers.

Ottesen said health care and education are her top issues. Rogers made health care and education her top issues.

Ottesen said she plans to tap the youth vote. Rogers said she planned to tap the youth vote.

Ottesen’s election results are yet unknown. Rogers got crushed.

Rogers collected 38.2 percent of the vote in Congressional District 5, which includes Tempe and Scottsdale. Hayworth walked off with 59.5 percent.

Rogers said the campaign proved to be a valuable experience, despite the loss.

"My biggest accomplishment was the 102,363 votes I got. So many people said, ‘Well, you’re not going to do well. You’re not going to do this. You’re not going to do that.’ And then I did it and look at the results," Rogers said Tuesday.

Since November, she has accepted the job of vice president of programming for the Young Democrats of Arizona. It involves helping organize high school and community college groups and arranging social events for young professionals.

The race for Congress served as good groundwork for another run at elected office, perhaps even a rematch with Hayworth sometime in the future, Rogers said. Ottesen likely will enjoy similar benefits from her race for governor.

"This is definitely good for her long-term political career, because this is the kind of race you don’t expect to win, but you have a chance to learn all the things you need to know about how to run a race," Rogers said. "And if you make mistakes, it doesn’t matter."

Rogers’ biggest misstep last year was taking too long to start heavy campaigning. She decided to run in February, but didn’t start visiting neighborhood association meetings and service club meetings until six weeks before the general election.

Instead, she spent the early part of the campaign working Democratic Party events in an effort to secure the primary nomination.

"I didn’t realize what it was going to take to get my name out there and to get people to recognize me and everything. Starting as soon as possible is always the best thing," Rogers said.

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