Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 23, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists' Roundtable Year-Ender


  • Michael Grant sits down with journalists Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, The Tribune's Mark Flatten and The Arizona Republic's Doug MacEachern to look back at the year's top stories and give predictions for 2006.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to a special edition of "Horizon." this is our annual year-end prediction show during the next half hour, our panel will preview 2006 and let you know what will happen during the year. At least they'll try to do their best. That's next on "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Our prognostication panel includes Howie Fischer, Mark Flatten of the East Valley Tribune, and Doug MacEachern. Before we get to the predictions for 2006, let's look back at how extremely well our panel did for 2005. Producer Steve Clawson has a recap of the hits and the misses.

Steve Clawson:
When we last left our group, they had finished in a tie for their predictions in 2004. Now it's time to find out how they did predicting what would happen in 2005. We begin with a simple question -- plus or minus 10, how many days would the 2005 legislative session last?

Howard Fischer:
145.

Doug MacEachen:
I'm going with 140 days.

Michael Grant:
So that's your final answer?

Doug MacEachen:
That is my final answer.

Mark Flatten:
I was going to go with the first week in June, so -- I'll say sometime before Doug's prediction. I would say the first week of June, probably the second, third.

Steve Clawson:
The correct answer is 123 days. The legislature officially adjourned the session on may 12. With 2006 being an election year, Michael Grant was already looking ahead.

Michael Grant:
You think people are going to be declaring against Governor Napolitano next year for 2006?

Mark Flatten:
Maybe around the November-December time frame, maybe J.D. Hayworth if he chooses not to run as an election candidate, which I think it's very likely sometime in December he would make that announcement, but I don't think we'll see that until 2006.

Doug MacEachen:
It's pretty much a lock J.D. will announce eventually, but when is the question. I think he'll announce late next year. I think we'll see at the very least an announcement of an exploratory committee.

Steve Clawson:
There was a steady progression of republican candidates announcing they would and would not run for governor. Congressman J.D. Hayworth, former Maricopa county attorney and former Governor Symington announced they would not run. Another election question, senator -- centered around democratic party chairman Jim Peterson and whether he would announce a run against senator Jon Kyl.

Howard Fischer:
I think he recognizes the party doesn't have anyone else strong, he's also got more money than god, which certainly helps when you're running this kind of race.

Mark Flatten:
I think he goes, he's been building up to this, I think Peterson has seen his progression where he became the party chair, Napolitano was up and rising, she's where she needs to be from the democrats' perspective, he's the obvious choice to be. The one to challenge.

Doug MacEachen:
I'm going to say no. I don't think he will.

Steve Clawson:
Jim Peterson resigned as party chairman and announced his campaign against senator Kyl. Speaking of democrats, the panel was asked to predict who would become the new chairman of the democratic national committee.

Doug MacEachen:
Tim Roamer from Indiana is a late entrant into the sweepstakes, and he -- and it seems as though he was encouraged by a lot of party types to get into the race and it just -- I just have a sense that that's for a good reason, Tim Roamer.

Michael Grant:
You're going to go with Howard Dean again, Mark? It worked pretty well for you this year.

Mark Flatten:
I sort of underestimated his nuttiness. I gotta go with my buddy Doug.

Howard Fischer:
There's some procedure from survivor where you get one free pass of something you don't want to deal with. Don't know, don't care.

Steve Clawson:
For the second year in a row, our panel was wrong on a prediction about Howard Dean. Our panel members are always asked for a long shot prediction, and a sure thing.

Doug MacEachen:
My sure shot is that someone in Hollywood will make a major motion picture with overtly religious themes that tries to take in the sort of box office of the "The Passion of the Christ." my long shot, major social security reform passes.

Michael Grant:
Sure shot, long shot?

Howard Fischer:
Long shot is that the Arizona Daily Star and Flagstaff paper sold to Ganett, my sure shot is next year I'll have less hair, you'll have more.

Michael Grant:
Mark?

Mark Flatten:
My long shot was going to be that the president's immigration reform bill goes nowhere, and my sure shot was going to be that Kyl goes nowhere either.

Steve Clawson:
Doug was half right. Mark got both his right and Howie gets a half credit for having less hair. The show started with what should have been a simple question. How many vetoes would governor Napolitano issue in 2005, and how many would be overridden?

Doug MacEachen:
I'm going to say an even two dozen.

Michael Grant:
Two dozen vetoes? Any overrides?

Doug MacEachen:
I will say no.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Howie?

Howard Fischer:
I'm going to take his number and divide it by two. I think it will be 12 vetoes, including the line items, and I don't think they'll override because you don't have 40 in the house, and I don't see any democrats siding with the republicans to override a veto. So I think it's going to be 12 at bats, zero homers.

Michael Grant:
There's two wrong guesses.

Mark Flatten:
I would say -- I would go lower than Howie, you've got to bracket somebody. I'll go with nine vetoes; I don't think any will be overridden.

Steve Clawson:
The final veto total for governor Napolitano was 61. Now it's time to reveal this year's winner. Out of a possible 11 points, Doug finished with four points. Howie is the runner up with 4.5, and Mark takes the 2005 prediction championship with an even five points.

Michael Grant:
That is terrible!

Mark Flatten:
I was going to go with Howard Dean, but Doug talked me out of it.

Michael Grant:
Why do we keep doing this?

Howard Fischer:
That's what I'm saying. You keep inviting us back, year after year after year; we're down to the winner getting five points out of 11. This is like the Cardinals.

Mark Flatten:
I think Howie should get the full point, because I do think you have more hair this year.

Michael Grant:
That's true. All right. Well, let's plunge into this thing. Let's start with the Jon Kyl-Jim Peterson race. First question, who wins the darn thing?

Howard Fischer:
Oh, barring Kyl self-destructing or barring 8,000 dead in the war in Iraq, I think Kyl walks away with the thing. I don't think it's going to be by the margin that he would like, I don't think it will be by the margin some of the polls are predicting, but I think he gets 56\% on this one.

Michael Grant:
Mark?

Mark Flatten:
I tend agree with Howie. I think it may go by a higher margin, and the reason I say that is nothing against Peterson, he's a very bright candidate, he's going to be well-financed, he's done -- he's very politically savvy, but I think he's making one mistake early out of the gate, which a lot of democrats nationally I think are making, and that's that they're letting the national party take too much control of their campaigns. It was O'Neill who said all elections are local, and the democrats seemed to have lost sense of that. And I think Peterson is not going to attain his full potential until he decides who's going to run an Arizona campaign with Arizona people until Washington -- and tell Washington to go away. I think Kyl wins it, I would give him probably a 10-point edge.

Michael Grant:
Possibility for a sweep here, Doug. What do you think?

Doug MacEachen:
I'm tempted to be in contrary here, but I can't do that. I'm going to say Kyl wins as well, I'm going -- I think Howie is still right from last year, that Peterson does have more money than god, and he still has it. Nevertheless, I think Kyl's got a good shot. However, the -- mark is correct, it is a race that's being taken over by the national people, but there's also a national issue here that I think sort of plays into it. That being the immigration issue. And I still think that Kyl will make that more of a strong suit than a liability.

Michael Grant:
Speaking about more money than god, here's a more challenging question. Kyl-Peterson race. How much money total spent?

Doug MacEachen:
Well, the conventional wisdom figure has it something in the range of $12 million, $13 million. It's always low balling, which is an enormous amount of money for an Arizona race, but that's the low-balling for this early in the race, so I'm going to say -- I'm going to go $15 million.

Michael Grant:
Mark?

Mark Flatten:
I'll go -- I was going to go 15, so I'll raise Doug by a mill, I'll go $16 million. Once this thing gets hot and heavy, particularly if Peterson starts closing the gap, you're going to see a lot of out of state money being poured into this race.

Michael Grant:
Howie, what do you think?

Howard Fischer:
I think it's going to be close to 13. While it's going to get desperate, I think at a certain point it's going to become obvious to the democrats that this one is not winnable. And much better off spending their money on another race, which is the house seat down in congressional district eight rather than blowing the money on the Peterson race.

Mark Flatten:
It's different money; the money going into the senate campaigns is a lot different, a different campaign group.

Howard Fischer:
Oh, understood, but I think the people, the folks from out of state who are going to be giving, who are looking for the targets of opportunity seek -- see an open seat from Colby as much more of a target of opportunity to spend money if you've got Californians and New Yorkers and Chicagoans than --

Mark Flatten:
That's -- that kind of thinking puts you down half a point.

Michael Grant:
Well, ok. Let's stick with that. Jim kicks off the holiday season, in fact I think it was Wednesday right before thanksgiving, if I recall, by saying, no, after 25 years I'm going to shut it down. We could go through a variety of permutations. Who do you think is most likely to win that seat?

Howard Fischer:
I think at this point, and we get into the permutations, Gifford could walk away with it, even though she's a democrat, and the reason is, if enough moderate republicans get into the primary, a Tim b, a Tom Volge, you end up giving the primary to randy graph. While he appeals to people with his anti-immigration stance, he scares more moderate republicans. And Gabby actually has a very good business background, she owns a business, she does not scare moderate republicans, she's been elected three times from at least part of that district, and I'm going to maybe this becomes a long shot, but I think the democrats takes it, Gabby Gifford becomes the next congressman.

Michael Grant:
Four or five point advantage?

Doug MacEachen:
I think the trend is toward a competitive race. They're assuming that the republican candidate isn't a Randy Graph, which is a possibility. Given that, I think -- I'm turning toward democrat, I think the stars are aligning for them in a number of states, including a marginal district like that in Arizona, so I give it to the democrats, I'm just picking a name out of a hat, I'm saying Patty Weise.

Michael Grant:
Well, Mark, 82-84, that seat was controlled by a democrat, what do you think this time?

Mark Flatten:
I think -- I'm going to go with someone like Volge. He's someone that's got a lot of appeal, he's not really frightening to anybody, the question is whether he's going to run or not.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Let's shift to the run for governor, and let's do a sub question here. Is Joe Arpaio going to run?

Mark Flatten:
No, I think he's got his media fix at this point. He is kind of like a Christmas elf, he comes around this year every time and gets the media fix, and then he opts not to run. He's not going to run, I don't think. I'm relatively sure of that.

Michael Grant:
We should disclose here that we poll -- pull for Joe Arpaio to run, because then Robbie Sherwood has to shave his head.

Howard Fischer:
We have the tape that he will shave his head. No, it's not going to happen, though given our record of predictions, debris a special magic crystal ball this year with a little smiley face, so let's see what the magic ball has to say. "You've got to be kidding." Even the ball doesn't think Joe's going to run.

Michael Grant:
Future uncertain, what's your answer?

Doug MacEachen:
How can I follow that? There's something about the color pink. Joe was a code pink character. Whenever his political future is on the line, he does something like pink underwear, now he's painted his -- one of his holding tanks pink. Just to get attention, you think? I'm saying no. I don't think he's going to run.

Michael Grant:
All right. We've got at least a taping time we've got, what, four declared republican candidates. For governor. Out of that field, who do you think emerges from the primary?

Doug MacEachen:
Janet Napolitano.

Michael Grant:
That's a crossover vote.

Doug MacEachen:
I think given the nature of republican primaries and the sort of cultural issues that have likelihood of bubbling up around the time of the republican primary, I think Len Munsol has a pretty good shot at getting the nomination.

Michael Grant:
Mark?

Mark Flatten:
I'd have to go with somebody like a green, just because I think -- I don't think the republicans are going to really care who wins the nomination too much. Whoever alphabetically appears first on any given ballot will probably be the guy who wins it. I don't see they have a realistic shot of beating the governor, and I think they know that, and they're not going to get too worked up about it.

Howard Fischer:
The thing working in green's favor, if you have three antiabortion candidates in there and he becomes the pro-choice candidate, and they split the vote, maybe. Given who turns out in the primary, I'm in agreement with Doug. You've got Len, who has this massive mailing list, who can bring out the believers. This is a guy when he finally makes the formal announcement in January, will somehow attribute his candidacy to god. And that appeals to a certain number of people within the Republican Party, and I think Len would have the leg up. Now, assuming there's no wild cards, anybody else jumping in, obviously not Joe, but assuming we don't get somebody else, the party looks around and says oh, my god is this what we have to offer?

Michael Grant:
That's September. November rolls around, governor Napolitano, win or lose? You've got to be kidding.

Howard Fischer:
The magic ball says, particularly if it's Len, Janet wins. I think she'll win no matter who the republican nominee is. Certainly the legislature will try to soften her up on images of immigration. They're going to send her tax cut bills; they're going to dare her to veto. But many of the moderate republicans have no problem with her. The business community has no problem with her. And so I think Janet is easily re-electible. Margin, I think it may only be 51-49 because there are certain people who will vote republican even if it's a dead republican, but I think she still wins.

Michael Grant:
Doug?

Doug MacEachen:
I am trying to think of the circumstance in which she would do something extraordinarily clumsy that would give them something to throw hooks into her, and cause her to fumble in the race, and my assumption is that would have something to do with something regarding taxes. She hasn't espoused any kind of interest whatsoever in raising taxes up until this point. The coffers are full; I just don't how it could turn out otherwise.

Michael Grant:
Legislature will be slinging some things her way, immigration obviously comes immediately to mind, Mark, and they might -- some tax developments I think are a possibility. November next year, Janet Napolitano win reelection?

Mark Flatten:
Oh, yeah. I would -- I don't remember what the quote-dead man's vote is, I think it's around 35\%.

Michael Grant:
Actually it was 19\%.

Mark Flatten:
19\%? I'll give whoever the dead man the republicans nominate, I'll give them 35\%. And Napolitano the rest.

Michael Grant:
This is kind of fun, Mark. Skip Rimsza has --

Mark Flatten:
What could possibly be fun about Skip Rimsza?

Michael Grant:
It's fun that apparently he's going to run for secretary of state against Jan Brewer.

Mark Flatten:
I don't think he'll hurricane Rita beat her. I don't know that Rimsza is what -- is that well loved within the Republican Party. Brewer has been a good loyal soldier to the Republican Party for a long time, and I don't see her get can unseated by him.

Michael Grant:
Doug?

Doug MacEachen:
I don't see it either, although what Rimsza has got going against him is the former Phoenix mayor factor. Former Phoenix mayors don't traditionally do real well in races of their choosing after leaving office. However, as Skip has pointed out, it's been two years, I believe since he was in office, roughly, and so he can't be accused of using it as a platform to higher office somewhere else. I don't think it will make a lot of difference. I think Jan has got a lot of party-based support that's going to keep her on the job.

Howard Fischer:
And the other piece of it is, what becomes the issue? It's not like the elections, which is much of what the secretary of state's office runs. It's not like we've got massive voter fraud or butterfly ballots with hanging chads. What is the reason to turn her out of office? I mean, she's certainly very partisan, and has a lot of party support there. It would be more interesting if a good high-profile democrat were to decide to emerge, but even they be I think Jan Brewer will remain secretary of state and governor in waiting perhaps.

Michael Grant:
Slade meet got any chance against Tom Horn for superintendent of public instruction?

Doug MacEachen:
I really don't think so. I think that Slade is a provocative guy; I'll give him thatch. He'll make a good candidate. But Tom has imprinted his office, I think controversially so in some respects, but I think -- I think he's probably going to win out.

Michael Grant:
Tom Horn has been a strong backer obviously of the aims test. Let's say you have an aims meltdown next year. Does that help Slade mead?

Mark Flatten:
I don't -- it may help Slade mead, I don't think mead is going to beat Horn. Horn has, in terms of education policy, been conservative, but not nutty. He's maintained I think a fairly central to conservative position, not something he can be attacked too much on either side for. It's not bold and dynamic, but doesn't leave him really vulnerable.

Michael Grant:
But hasn't he forever lost the vending machine vote?

Howard Fischer:
And that's true in terms of the junk food stuff. The placing might be vulnerable is not from Slade mead on his left, but perhaps his right. Tom has taken pains to say that he is not going to be backing that 65-cent initiative that randy is circulating because he doesn't necessarily think it's a good idea the way the thing is crafted. So somebody like a randy on the right could go ahead and pull that together. But in terms after Slade Mead this, is a great race. You have Slade Mead, who is republican, who wants to kind of run as a quasi democrat, Tom Horn who registered for democrat who got elected as a republican, and I don't know if either party trusts either of them.

Michael Grant:
Let's go to springtime, Phoenix bond election. March. Voters ok it?

Howard Fischer:
I think they will. I don't see anything really alarming in there. If they approved the stupid trolley system, and you know how I feel about that, even the little ball hates the trolley, there's nothing in there, unless there's some kickback over issues like the trump tower or anything else, I don't see that. The one wild card is whether the public will say to the phoenix city council; let me make sure we got this right. You committed to spend the money for a downtown campus before we told you could? But because of the way they packaged this stuff. I, I think it goes to very low turnout and nobody cares.

Michael Grant:
Does it resonate very much?

Doug MacEachen:
I think it does more than these elections traditionally could. I think trump tower issue, if it gets to the ballot, has got a possibility of bringing out a lot more voters than would have been there otherwise. And certainly the downtown issue is something that people who paid more attention to, but I think that this is -- there is a lot more than just downtown to the bond election, I think voters will be committed to it, it will pass pretty easily.

Michael Grant:
It is a wide basin variety of projects. Do you think it goes snuff?

Mark Flatten:
I think it will pass if the trump tower thing gets on the same ballot. You might draw out a lot of sort of lynch the council types, which might close the gap. But I assume it will pass.

Michael Grant:
As usual, we're completely running out of time. I want to touch on some of the props and get your read on those. Mark, same-sex marriage ban. Does it make the ballot, and does it win?

Mark Flatten:
Makes the ballot, I'm presuming it will win. It's won in just about -- I think in every other state it's been on, Arizona I don't think will be any exception.

Michael Grant:
Doug?

Doug MacEachen:
I have to go along with Mark. I think in all likelihood it will get on the ballot, it looks like it probably will. Certainly controversial, but I think it will pass.

Howard Fischer:
I'm going to say the courts are going to knock it off under a single subject rule. So Arizonans aren't going to get to vote on it at all.

Michael Grant:
You should have saved that for, I don't know, long shot or something.

Howard Fischer:
I've got a few more, don't worry. The ball and I have our list here.

Michael Grant:
This is kind of fun. You think Arizonans, Doug, will vote for mail-in balloting, go To the Oregon system?

Doug MacEachen:
It has a chance of getting to the ballot. Do I have to say yes or no?

Michael Grant:
Yes.

Howard Fischer:
It's hard to score if you don't say yes or no.

Doug MacEachen:
Um, if it gets in the ballot, I will say no, I don't believe it will pass.

Michael Grant:
Mark?

Mark Flatten:
I don't think it will be passed into law.

Howard Fischer:
I think it will pass if you can get it on the ballot and Rick Murphy has plenty of money, he's selling his radio stations, I think the people say, we don't see the fraud, because if you've got the signatures --

Mark Flatten:
I don't think it will pass because people at this point are just sort of Fed Winston cup all these weird little election things after four years.

Michael Grant:
All right. I'm going to leave enough time for long shot and sure things, but I think we can squeeze n. What about the statewide smoking ban?

Howard Fischer:
If it makes the ballot, I think it wins because only 24\% of Arizonans smoke. But I know that you may get a more of a negative vote against it than that 24\%, because a lot of people are getting to the point where we beat on smokers enough. Like the tax.

Michael Grant:
You should have checked the magic eight ball; it would have said future smokey. What do you think?

Doug MacEachen:
It makes the ballot, wins.

Mark Flatten:
Makes the ballot and wins.

Michael Grant:
All right. Long shot, and sure thing prediction?

Mark Flatten:
They play together, my sure thing is this is the year congress is finally going to do serious immigration reform. Something meaningful. That's I think my sure thing. The long shot is, I don't think the president and McCain et al. Are going to get the kind of quasi amnesty they're looking for.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Doug? Long shot, sure thing?

Doug MacEachen:
I have to agonize over this for so long. The best I can do, the -- I hate to say this in this environment, but U.A. over A.S.U. next year in football. That's my slam-dunk. I'm sorry to say that. But nevertheless, long shot, I'm saying Tom Delay chooses not to run for reelection.

Michael Grant:
30 seconds.

Howard Fischer:
Sure shot, republican continues its love appear with Janet Napolitano, endorse her for reelection. Long shot, they do come up with a deal on extending tuition tax credits for private and parochial schools to corporations, and the ball's long shot is that the republicans in the legislature take over Channel 8 and it becomes G.O.P.B.S.

Michael Grant:
All right. And we're shooting for six?

Mark Flatten:
We're going to break 50.

Michael Grant:
That was fun, as always. Not every accurate, but fun. Thanks very much. And thank you very much for joining us for this special edition of "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Happy holidays. Good night.

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