Democrat Rodney Glassman, who is challenging incumbent John McCain for a U.S. Senate seat from Arizona, concedes that about 60 percent of voters probably don't know who he is.
Nevertheless, he said, about the same percentage of voters have an unfavorable opinion of McCain. And therein lies an opportunity.
"That's about 60 percent that want to hear something about us," he said during a speech Wednesday morning to local Democrats at a Marie Callender's restaurant at I-10 and Chandler Boulevard. "There aren't a lot of people going around saying we need another six years of John McCain."
Glassman, 32, one of the youngest Senate candidates in the country, said he represents the future, while the four-term McCain, 74, is of the past. Glassman said that despite the four-term incumbent's longevity, the state's education system still suffers, a large number of people are upside down on their mortgages and infrastructure projects that might have come here have gone to other states.
"The question is, what do we have to show for it?" he said.
Glassman, who identified his top priorities as jobs and education, earned a PhD in arid land resources science from the University of Arizona, is a former Tucson City councilman and serves as a Judge Advocate General officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He also served as a legislative aide to state Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson), who called for a boycott against Arizona over the state's adoption of SB1070, the anti-illegal immigration law.
Glassman said that although he does not support SB1070, he opposed calls for a boycott from the beginning. SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it's the federal government's job to create and enforce immigration policy, he said.
"Since the day the boycott was called, I've been against it the entire time," he said. "Arizona working families don't need boycotts, they need jobs."
Instead, Glassman said he supports securing the border with additional border patrol and customs agents, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and by building fences in select locations. He also called for the creation of a path to legalization for up to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
As for the controversial national health-care reform law President Obama signed earlier this year, Glassman said it's not perfect, but he would have supported it.
"Yes, I would have voted for it, and I would have participated on Arizona's behalf to create something in our best interest," he said. "The sad fact is that Arizona doesn't have anyone negotiating on our behalf. We have a senator who is not as interested in other people's health care as he is about his own."
He urged supporters to spread the word about his candidacy.
"We have a long way to go to get voters to know who we are," Glassman said.