Ted Simons: The governor’s race is already heating up with numerous candidates and near-candidates declaring a desire to run. Arizona State University pollster Bruce Merrill is here to talk about what could be quite a campaign. This is really shaping up quite well, isn't it?
Bruce Merrill: It is. Believe it or not, it's getting late. It's only 18 months until the election. It takes that long to put together a really successful campaign in a major statewide election. The election isn't that far off.
Ted Simons: Let's start with Andy Thomas, that's got most tongues wagging right now. Surprised he made this announcement?
Bruce Merrill: Not surprised, or not surprised. He can get clean election money and use that money to further his agenda. In my opinion, I don't think he has a great chance to be successful in the primary. But he certainly could affect the outcome of the primary, depending upon how many people end up being in the race, and how that vote is decided.
Ted Simons: How much could he disrupt a primary? Let's say there are not too many candidates, say there's a whole boatload of them. How does he affect that?
Bruce Merrill: The key thing right now, I think there could be seven, eight candidates on the Republican side. It really gets down -- remember, the turnout in the primary in Arizona is quite low, 30-35 percent, at most. It's going to depend on more than anything, and Andy Thomas is one of those people, how many right-wingers or conservatives get involved. The more right-wing candidates you have, the more they divide that vote, which allows somebody like a Hugh Holman or a Scott Smith, or a more moderate candidate to sneak through a primary.
Ted Simons: Where would a Ken Bennett fall on that grid?
Bruce Merrill: I don't like those terms, conservative or liberal. He certainly has had, because of some of his positions on where Obama was born and some other things, a lot of impact with the so-called Tea Party-ers. That would kind of put him at least towards the right end of the spectrum as we normally talk about it.
Ted Simons: Back to Andy Thomas. Does he have enough name recognition or time to barnstorm and raise that name recognition?
Bruce Merrill: He has more than most, that's for sure. And keep in mind, it's only in Maricopa County because he was a county attorney. But the thing is 70 percent of the vote's in Maricopa County now. That's why you don't hear a lot even with some of the gubernatorial candidates, about people from Tucson or other parts of the state.
Ted Simons: So let's say -- last thing on Thomas -- his announcement, does that mean anyone who may have been thinking, may be thinking twice or vice versa?
Bruce Merrill: I don't think so. It's kind of hard to know how -- he certainly will have his supporters. He was very vociferous for a long time. He and Joe Arpaio were best buddies. He's a disbarred attorney and he has been disgraced in many respects, and he may have a hard time overcoming that. The interesting thing, Ted, you raise an interesting point. One of the people most influential in my opinion, who gets the nomination is who gets Joe Arpaio's endorsement.
Ted Simons: Even now?
Bruce Merrill: Even now. A lot of people don't like Joe. But the people who have a high probability of voting, older retired people in Sun City, Sun City West, East Valley, they like Joe a lot. That’s why during presidential primary elections every one of the candidates wanted Joe's endorsement.
Ted Simons: Let's go over to the Democratic side. Fred Duvall has made his announcement. A lot of folks are expecting Chad Campbell to do likewise. He hasn't yet. First of all, the primary, and then either one of these guys in the general.
Bruce Merrill: I think you've raised two questions. There will be fewer people on the Democratic side. There are fewer Democrats and they haven't competed effectively at that level for some time. There's no big-name person. I think Fred Duvall is an extremely bright person, he’s certainly good qualifications in education, with the board. The question on him, is he tough enough? I've had people ask me that. I like him, he's bright, is he going to be tough enough to take on somebody? Chad might be tougher. He's been in the crucible in the legislature, and it's hard to say, but keep in mind the other factor, whether it's with these two candidates on the Democratic side and to some degree the Republican side, it's going to take a lot of money. Keep in mind, Cardin spent 10 million running a primary for the statewide race for the Senate. The Governor's race is similar. It's going to take a minimum of three to five million dollars for a successful candidate to come out of the primary.
Ted Simons: Sounds like that would hurt maybe Melvin or a Christine Jones if she should decide to run. Who would it help on the Republican side and who on the Democratic side?
Bruce Merrill: It certainly helps somebody like Doug Ducey, a very successful businessman, Ken Bennett. The other thing about both of them, they both have the advantages of name recognition because they ran statewide races. They both have the resources more than the other candidates to fund the campaign. But there's no question, money is a much more important player.
Ted Simons: Duvall or Campbell on Democratic side, capable of raising more money?
Bruce Merrill: I really don't know.
Ted Simons: Hard to say, isn't it?
Bruce Merrill: Yea, really hard to say.
Ted Simons: The mayor of Mesa, he was such a dark horse candidate for so long, everyone's got him as a dark horse candidate. How does he sit in all this?
Bruce Merrill: If you talk to people about Scott, they really like him. He's done a great job in Mesa and that's a tough place over there. They have been down economically for a long time. He's a moderate, and his chance -- he would have a lot better chance as Republican candidate in the general election if he can get out of the primary, than he's going to have -- he's going have a tough time in the primary, I don't think there's much doubt.
Ted Simons: Overall, both primaries in general. Impact of the Latino vote, the changing demographics of Arizona.
Bruce Merrill: Increasingly important. We really saw this, there was a lot of energy that came out of the Dream Act people in Arizona. The more exciting thing with the Hispanics wasn't the traditional Hispanics, it was these young people. I think you're going to see the Hispanics have more and more of a role on the Democratic side.
Ted Simons: Midyear elections, impact there?
Bruce Merrill: You hate to see the politics but there's no question that the Democrats and Obama, the more havoc or crisis they can create in terms of the legislature, allowing them to good out into the legislative and Congressional Districts and say, I need you in Washington, vote Democratic that we can get rid of these Republicans in the house.
Ted Simons: Interesting. Bruce, always a pleasure.