Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 11, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Journalists discuss the week's top news stories.
Category: Journalists Roundtable   |   Keywords: top stories,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Mark Brodie of KJZZ radio, Dennis Welch of "The Arizona Guardian," and Doug Maceachern of "The Arizona Republic."

Ted Simons: Senator Jon Kyl announces that he's not seeking reelection. How much of a surprise was that?

Mark Brodie: People were looking at all sorts of things and trying to read the tea leaves. I think somewhat of a surprise but maybe not totally a surprise. He had been thinking about this for some time. He mentioned yesterday, right around the time of his last election in 2006, he thought, maybe I don't want to do this again. Maybe for some it was a surprise.

Dennis Welch: He did a good job keeping it close to the vest. There wasn't a long drawn out process that maybe he was thinking about it. We heard about it on a Thursday, on a Wednesday night, I heard some buzz about it and Thursday he came out and said, it's over, I'm hanging it up. He did a good job keeping it close to the vest.

Doug Maceachern: With politicians, you get the sense that they'll leave when they get kicked out the door. Kyl's, he was respected on both side of the aisle and of great influence behind the scenes. And that's the sort of scenario that a lot of people are very reluctant to part with, and he was.

Mark Brodie: And he mentioned during his remarks yesterday morning at the press conference, he didn't want to be somebody who basically hung on too long and mentioned his colleagues are forced out of office either because they lose election or various reasons, he didn't want that to be the case with him.
Ted Simons: Why this particular day, why this particular time?

Dennis Welch: He made clear, Kyl is someone who does care about the health of the party a lot and wanted to give everybody an opportunity to run a campaign who wanted to run for his seat. Time to get their operations together and raise the money you're going to need. This race is going to take $3 million, $4 million to be successful and wanted to give them time for that and that's why he's doing it now as opposed to waiting to early next year. Over the years, Jon Kyl's name been mentioned for Vice president, Supreme Court material, a variety of things. He's a United States senator. Do we expect to see anything more from him after he leaves office?

Doug Maceachern: In terms of public office, we were talking yesterday and he ruled out everything except what he considered a unlikely scenario in which somebody offers him a vice presidential opportunity. I have my theory about this and I think that it takes -- Kyl is somebody that thinks very deeply. He understands issues but also understands political circumstance and the political circumstance for doing something and he mentioned only sort of in passing, entitlement reform is something that someone who is running for reelection pretty much wants to wipe off their table because it's such a hot potato. I think he's got a serious interest in taking a lead in doing something about entitlement reform which, you know, if he does, I think that's -- he's doing everyone a great service.

Ted Simons: Is that also similar scenario with immigration reform? He got hammered last time he tried to doing so with immigration, now he doesn't care all that much.
Mark Brodie: He still cares, but as Doug said, correctly, he doesn't have to go for reelection. He mentioned that, he spoke with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who is also not running for reelection. There are three or four mentioned they're not running for reelection. Talked about taking on entitlement reform and maybe something dealing with immigration and I think definitely looking to use the lame duck senator caucus, if that's what you want to call it, as a way to get things done that folks who have to run for reelection can't do.

Ted Simons: Let's go ahead and open the flood gates here and talk about the possibilities

Ted Simons: Watch for the stampede. We'll start with Republicans. I'll throw names out. Flake, Shadegg, Hayworth, Hail, Quayle, Martin. It goes on and on.

Dennis Welch: If you're an elected official, if you're used to be a elected officials or thinking about it, you're probably going to be rumored being this in race. But Jeff flake, I think pretty much, he's going to be in this race. It's a matter of time before he makes it official. He's wanted this office for quite some time and I think he's got interesting qualities that can help or hurt him. He's certainly vulnerable to the Republican primary, stances on immigration and Cuba. He gets good marks for stands on earmarks and what not. He's going to be an interesting, strong candidate. We heard before coming on the show today, John Shadegg is taking his name out.
Ted Simons: Is that a surprise?

Dennis Welch: Not so much a surprise, he was ready to leave Washington when he left early last year, he was done with that and I think he wants to stick around, and here, hang out with the family and what not.
Ted Simons: Doug, seemed like that seat was just waiting for John Shadegg for a long time. Didn't is feel that way?
Doug Maceachern: We anticipated among Republicans at least, the big showdown between Flake and Shadegg for that seat. But that was always sort of a uncomfortable scenario because John Shadegg, he wanted out and he seriously -- you could tell he just -- he was tired of playing the Washington game. The fact he's already ruled himself out, doesn't surprise me in the least.
Ted Simons: What do you think, mark, as far as the names floating about? Jeff flake. Who else are you seeing?
Mark Brodie: The list, as Dennis said is potentially endless. I've had people say if you thought the GOP primary in the third congressional race was big, that one had 10 candidates in the Republican field. This one, the senate race is going to be like that on steroids. Gigantic, we've heard that former governor Symington is mulling a run. Unless someone says they're not going to run, you have considered everybody as fair game. It's a rare thing for a U.S. senate seat to be open and a lot of people will look at it as this is their chance.

Doug Maceachern: And the interesting thing, that the avalanche keeps getting bigger as you go farther downhill. There's a number of sitting congressional members thinking about this and suddenly those seats come open and you have virtually every public official in Arizona jockeying and re-jockeying for what they think might get them into Washington.
Dennis Welch: This is a big game changer in Arizona politics when you look at who is going to be in a position of power in a few years. Not only potentially all of the congressional seats open. But another one coming up through redistricting and what's that going to mean for everybody at the statehouse. We saw what one congressional opening in CD3. What's it going to be if we have two, three, four congressional seats open? You're going to have half the legislature is probably going to jump out and run.

Ted Simons: Let's ask this question: Will this -- does it look like this has the possibility of being a crowded primary or will we see something where a lot of folks are expressing interest but we've already seen John Shadegg say no, Governor Brewer -- some folks, by the time serious campaigning comes, what do you think will happen? A crowded field?

Mark Brodie: I have not spoken with anyone who thinks this will not be a crowded field. But everybody says it's going to be a crowded field and I've been hearing spates this is going to be far and away the most expensive, especially Republican primary in state history and Dennis mentioned dollar amounts. Crowded field and lots of money thrown around. That's the - the gist I'm getting.

Dennis Welch: Another guy that's going to be a strong candidate, representative Trent frank. He was a long shot when he scored the win in 2002 for congress. He's a guy who could do well with the Christian conservatives and the tea party types. He could raise money and he could be a credible challenger.

Ted Simons: What about Ben Quayle and Russell Pearce?

Doug Maceachern: I think Ben Quayle, is -- I think probably -- I mean, he just gotten elected to his first public office and before that, you know, he was on the internet, I understood. [Laughter] But his mother --

Ted Simons: Yes?

Doug Maceachern: -- his mother might be considering it. I find that -- that means every single public figure. Including sports figures.

Dennis Welch: That's the thing. If you've got a good name and money, your name is always going to be thrown out there and the Quayles have both. Money and a good political last name and with Ben, I think Doug is right, he just got elected and has a lot of problems with Republicans, with his own party that he needs to shore up and he may be told to wait a few more years, wait for McCain and that seat could open up and it would be a good time to go for that.

Doug Maceachern: The other one, Russell Pearce, there's a interesting dynamic working there. It's the 1070 dynamic we saw sweep Governor Brewer into office just last year. There's a presumption and I think at this point at least, legitimate, is that Mr. Pearce has got a national following and he certainly thinks highly of himself and he could see himself as senator. So yeah, that's -- plus in a crowded field where you command a substantial minority constituency, your chances aren't too bad.

Ted Simons: Let's go from a crowded field to what most analysts are saying a thin bench. That's the Democrats. Obviously former Governor Napolitano is a person could be considered. Terry Goder, Phil Gordon, Jim Peterson, names to be considered.

Mark Brodie: To be considered, kind of like with Republican, if you're a democrat elected official, former elected official or thinking about being elected official, I think you have to consider this. Yeah, we've heard former governor Napolitano and Jim Peterson who lost it to Kyl in '06 and I've heard university regent Fred Duval and the -- and areas of the Arizona delegation, maybe Ed PASTORE and congresswoman Giffords who has been rumored to be up for the seat before everything happened.

Ted Simons: I want to get to Giffords in a second. That's a fascinating scenario there. But back to the Democrats -- Harry Mitchell? Is it going to be a stampede?

Dennis Welch: It could draw a crowded field because you could see this is your opportunity to win the nomination and maybe pull off a surprising victory because if you get a crowded primary in a Republican race, you might get a extremist or Russell Pearce type and have problems in a general election and leave a moderate democrat in a good position to run win the race. I have think Felecia Rotellini has been rumored to making a run as well.

Ted Simons: What about Grant Woods? I don't know about even if he can get out of a Republican primary. Is this where an independent candidate could really make a splash?

Doug Maceachern: If you thought the scenarios we're drawing up here a couple seconds ago were complex as -- complex enough for you, it gets even more fascinating if, yes, Grant looks at that seat and says, well, you know, considering the dynamics of the Republican party as it exists in Arizona right now, hmm, maybe my chances aren't so hot. As a Republican, Grant is the kind of guy that theoretically at least could consider a run as an independent. At that point, in a three-way race, I mean, that's the sort of election that got Evan Mecham to become -- Mecham to become governor.

Dennis Welch: I think this could be the year for a independent to really strike. We found out not long ago that the latest registration figures show that Democrats are in third place behind independents in the number of registered voters out there. The Republicans hold the top spot but by 2012, independents could overtake Republicans.

Mark brodie: And don't discount grant woods connection with John McCain. What would John McCain role be in that?

Dennis Welch: He says things that others aren't willing to do and he'd be a fascinating character to cover.

Ted Simons: There would be a party line to adhere to. All right. Gabby Giffords and that particular scenario. If she is recovered and this would -- you know, it's a miracle recovery so far, but let's take it further. If she's recovered enough to even campaign in the slightest bit and were to run, does anyone beat her anywhere?

Mark Brodie: From people I've talked to, no. And again, this is a big if. Running a statewide campaign especially in a state like Arizona where there's a lot of space between cities, it's grueling for people in perfect health. But nobody I've talked to has said if she runs, she might not be the favorite but she's a really strong contender because at this point she's got great name I.D. Everybody knows who she is and the story is so compelling with her.
Ted Simons: Doug, just to get out and campaign, just to campaign in the slightest bit, that's difficult for healthy individual to do and she's got a lot of recovery ahead of her. Is this just folks talking for the most part.

Doug Maceachern: Just as there has been since the shooting, there's a huge emotional attachment to gabby and what she's gone through and the people that suffered in Tucson a month ago. I don't know that over the long haul of the senate campaign that gets you through. You have to have a lot of stamina and really, it's so speculative now whether or not she's at all capable of doing something like that. It's -- it's almost -- I don't know, it's all strikes me as wrong to raise her as a possibility.

Ted Simons: Indeed.

Dennis Welch: And a lot of people are reluctant to really talk about this publicly or going on record as saying it, but it can't be ignored. It hovers over the political scene, the question that's out there. If she does enter, it's a game changer.

Ted Simons: And Grant Woods has already said if she shows interest, he probably would not run because he would likely support her.
Dennis Welch: And Democrats say it's hers to do what she wants with it. There's not a democrat in the state or in the country that would want to run against her and probably a lot of Republicans.

Mark Brodie: And the reason we're talking about this is because she was somebody before everything that happened last month happened, she was seen as a potential candidate for this seat when Jon Kyl or even John McCain, if he was the first of the two to retire, she was seen on the democratic side who could get into the race and have success it's not like people are pulling this out because of what happened. This was something that people had been talking about before.
Doug Maceachern: All I can say, if she runs, if it gets to the point where that becomes a possibility. I'm starting work on the movie script.

Ted Simons: You talk about national attention on a particular senate race, my goodness. Quickly before we go, Doug, you're an old hand. Prediction. Who is going to take that seat. One name either side. Who is going to succeed Jon Kyl.

Doug Maceachern: I think Jeff flake.

Ted Simons: What do you think, Dennis?

Dennis Welch: Oh, man, I'm going to have to say Jeff Flake. He's got strong name recognition and he's going to have a great organization and go with Jeff.

Ted Simons: Not like you're rooting but give me an idea.

Mark Brodie: I have absolutely no idea.

Ted Simons: You can't do that.

Mark Brodie: I don't think Jeff flake is a bad choice.

Ted Simons: To win. Not May you want him to win but think --

Mark Brodie: It seems he has a good shot and people who know a heck of a lot more than I do think he has a shot.

Dennis Welch: But we thought we were going to -- Governor Goddard.

Ted simons: That's why we do predictions. Doug, countersuit to 1070 as far as the governor and the state of Arizona, give us a synopsis.

Doug Maceachern: There's not a good track record for suits like this. But the governor launched a suit against the federal government for a list of grievance against the feds for poor border security. From a purely legal standpoint, it doesn't look like it's going to go far just because it's difficult to sue the federal government because it's not doing the kind of job in a particular issue that you think it should. And so those -- those cases don't have a good track record. That leaves one to wonder what exactly was the motivation behind filing a suit in the first place, and I just think that the governor in terms of keeping the border issue alive, they've had a lot of success with it in terms of getting it attention for the state. And I guess she recognizes that she has to keep plugging away at that.
Dennis Welch: I think it's great political theater and don't think it's all the governor behind this. If she would have thought about this earlier, they would have done it. I think Tom Horne has a lot to do behind it. Defending 1070, in case you didn't know that. Everywhere he goes, he says he's the attorney general that's going to defend it in court and plays well for a guy who has higher aspirations.

Mark Brodie: I think it's been a few months since we gathered on the steps outside of the federal courthouse to deal with 1070 and I haven't read a lot of legal analysis that suggests this has more chance of success than a state suing the feds because we don't like the way they're doing the war in Afghanistan.

Ted Simons: Kirk Adams is introducing a bunch of ideas regarding pension reforms. Four major ideas but in general, raising the age, getting more employee input, trying to go after double dippers and the drop program deferred retirement option. Will these things get far, because you're messing with something here, as far as entitlements and benefits.

Doug Maceacher: The entitlements as the third rail of politics is a very difficult issue to deal with. Nevertheless, I think the speaker has approached it more seriously than any politician -- I mean, dropping yourself out of the program is a pretty big -- pretty great way to start a campaign like that. Whether his chance of success, I think, you know, they approach 50/50. Think there's a good chance that we can see some serious changes.

Ted Simons: What do you think, Dennis? What's the reaction at the capitol?

Dennis Welch: I think it's popular. The "Republic" did a great story. The drop program has been written about for years and some of the public officials' retirement fund is over -- been abused a lot. I think it's a popular issue. I think something is going to happen in year.

Ted Simons: Hearing from the employee groups?

Mark Brodie: They're not real happy as you might expect and it's interesting because of the state constitution, none of this would apply to people already in the system. It's new hires because you can't go back and take benefits away. But I think this is going to be a fight and I think Kirk Adams knows that.

Doug Maceacher: The tough ones aren't the ones that have obvious problems like the elected officials one. The really difficult ones are the programs that are -- that retirement programs for people we like. Like teachers and firefighters and policemen.

Dennis Welch: And the public unions and they're strong and have a lot of influence and power and money to play with and it's going to be tough to work with them so they're not going to give up much.
Ted Simons: All right. Gentlemen good stuff. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.



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