Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 15, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists’ Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Join us as reporters bring us up to date on the latest news in the Journalists’ Roundtable.
Guests:
  • Jeremy Duda - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
  • Howard Fischer - Journalist, Capitol Media Services
  • Luige del Puerto - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Journalists Roundtable   |   Keywords: roundtable, top stories,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon's" "Journalists' Roundtable," I'm Ted Simons. Joining me is Jeremy Duda of the "Arizona Capitol Times," Howard Fischer of the "Capitol Media Services," and Luige del Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times." A new poll of Maricopa County Republican and Independent early ballot voters shows Doug Ducey and Scott Smith running one-two in the gubernatorial GOP primary. Tell us more about this poll. Any surprises here? What's going on?

Jeremy Duda: Not too much. Keep in mind, that is poll just in Maricopa County and just of early voters. People who have already turned in their ballots, done by a Republican consultant named Bert Coleman who’s not tied to any of the campaigns. He loves doing these kinds of polls. Ducey is up with a 4-point lead among those who have already turned in ballots. Smith is in the lead with Independents. The numbers look fairly good, although Coleman did another one a couple weeks ago that showed Smith up by a few points. Smith may be sliding a little bit.

Howard Fischer: We love this as journalists, the horse race. It's the trend you look for. We were talking about Christine Jones being in the top tier. Having already put over $2 million of her own money in, she's put another $700,000 in. Interesting commercials, and she's fighting for her life.

Ted Simons: What happened to Christine Jones, what's going on there?

Luige del Puerto: There's some theories that she might have peaked too soon. Some of the stuff she had said, written or tweeted before, some of that is beginning to hurt her. The fact is that we see two broad trends in all these polls. Ducey has been maintaining his lead and Smith is gaining. So those are the two big things we're seeing in all of these polls recently.

Jeremy Duda: Trends you see is Ducey in the lead and Smith pointing to the second spot to a greater or lesser degree, depending on who's putting out the polls. I think Smith has a real problem here, in that the guy doesn't seem to have any money. He's been off the air for a few days and just announced a new ad today, a capable guy but just known in the West Valley. They are talking about having a lot of momentum. We've raised $100,000 since the buyer endorsement. Ducey and Jones have spent twice that each in the same period of time.

Howard Fischer: That's the key, those I.E.'s are out there the free enterprise club, just throwing mud everywhere, everywhere. What's going to get interesting, is there's another I.E. out there waiting to strike, and that's the one that Jan Brewer runs for Arizona's legacy. She's only got about $600,000 though she's continuing to raise money. She could make a difference out there in terms of helping push some of his numbers up and attacking others.

Luige del Puerto: Now, what was really interesting in seeing is whether the Governor's endorsement of Scott Smith made any sort of a bump in the last two weeks or so. In a poll commissioned by Ducey's campaign, High Ground, the consulting firm, showed it might have had some impact in the last couple of days or so. But still, Ducey is maintaining his lead.

Ted Simons: But as you mentioned when we started talking about this, the Coleman poll included Independents. And just Independents only Smith at 34, Ducey at 23. That's a big margin. The question is will those independents -- obviously the early voters are there, but will they come out on election day?

Jeremy Duda: They may. Everybody expects higher than usual independent turnout. Another poll has Ducey leading by a couple of points over Smith. We've been trying to figure out which of these polls to believe. Like Howie said, you follow the trends more than anything.

Luige del Puerto: It's supposed to be the only way for Scott Smith to win this race, given the fact that he really doesn't have that much money to spend on TV and advertising, would be if the independents would show up and vote. What we are hearing from the Maricopa County elections office is that independents are requesting more ballots, they are turning in more ballots than those -- I think double digits more than the number that turned out and cast ballots in the last cycle.

Howard Fischer: One other factor at work, that's Andrew Thomas. I believe that his supporters -- probably lie to pollsters much in the same way 1986 Mecham's supporters lied and left everyone in surprise. Thomas is going to score in the double digits, and if those votes are taken away more from Ducey than they are from Smith, and you've got these Thomas folks, this conservative wing and folks saying, let's go to real conservative.

Ted Simons: Quickly, before we leave this. The Coleman poll, Thomas is in third place, 11%, ahead of Jones.

Luige del Puerto: That's true for the High Ground poll released yesterday. Thomas tied with Christine Jones in third place.

Ted Simons: That's got to drive Doug Ducey's camp crazy.

Howard Fischer: Oh, it does, it does. He strikes certain chords in certain groups.

Jeremy Duda: It probably drives Christine Jones a little more crazy. Seal the border, stop immigration, that's been her theme. You can't beat Thomas on those issues, if that's what you care about most.

Howard Fischer: He's also taken on the gay lobby, remember that.

Luige del Puerto: You've got to think about one thing. Andrew Thomas has been very consistent in his message.

Ted Simons: Can we stop thinking about that now?

Luige del Puerto: Yeah.

Ted Simons: You mentioned money and you mentioned that the Governor is kind of getting in here as far as her political action committees and groups are concerned, again driving Doug Ducey crazy. He may do something about it.

Howard Fischer: What's interesting is this whole story I wrote about was shot to me by the Ducey campaign. Wouldn't want to look into whether there's some violation of law. It says independent expenditures have not been truly independent. You can't say here what's I need, and then the I.E. come in and solve that. They are saying, we don't know exactly what went on but we know they have been taking a lot. We know Smith's supporters met with the Governor, notwithstanding. I think they are trying to scare Jan off, she don't care. She said I know what the law is, I'm going to spend money, I'm going to elect. They are at the point where they are trying to saber rattle on this.

Ted Simons: We don't know how much she has to say regarding where the money goes, but I'm guessing she has a little bit of something to say there. If she's with Smith on the campaign trail, what is coordination? Define the word.

Jeremy Duda: It depends. Are they sharing strategy? Is Smith telling her about the specific needs of his campaign, what he really needs to do? Or is it based on a general -- maybe I'll run some ads saying what Scott Smith is doing. You’re allowed to talk, but what are you talking about.

Howard Fischer: One of the stories Jeremy had this week was a great story, you have a candidate with the legislature out of Sierra Vista who said to the Governor, gee, I need -- the Governor said, how can I help you. Well, I need money for mailings. August 11th, all of a sudden there are some mailings. There may be an actual trail there. I think what Ducey is alleging, and note there hasn't been any money spent by the Governor yet, what Ducey is alleging is sort of innuendo and hoping to get her to back off.

Ted Simons: Hoping to head her off at the pass.

Luige del Puerto: Talking about the candidate out of legislative district 14, her opponent, David Stevens, an incumbent legislator, filed a complaint with the Secretary's office basically accusing her of coordinating with the Governor’s office.

Ted Simons: Isn't this a little sloppy on the Governor's part?

Jeremy Duda: And on Susan Seifert's part. Seifert met with the Governor to talk about her endorsement, because she's part of a whole lot of legislative endorsements, she said what can I do to help. She said, we're pretty lean on money for mailers. Lo and behold, there's the money. She says this on the record to a reporter. And her opponents immediately take notice.

Luige del Puerto: And the biggest political committee funders of the I.E. that's making that spending. On that mailer there's a group called the Arizona Technology Council that was a funder of Arizona's Legacy. What’s interesting is that this group had actually endorsed David Stevens, and Mr. Gowan in that race. So now their name is on the mailer opposing the candidates that, you know, they --

Howard Fischer: All of which goes to show you, if you give money to somebody else to spend, kiss it good-bye.

Luige del Puerto: They are asking for their money back. That's what their technology counsel is saying.

Ted Simons: He doesn't even know where it's going anymore.

Jeremy Duda: They may not be the only ones. Arizona's Legacy, it was set up to working with the pro expansion budget. They got a lot of money from the business community. Now the Governor is talking about spending some of this nest egg to help Smith. Well, a lot of these organizations that gave money to this nest egg, they aren't supporting Smith. A lot of them are supporting Ducey. There are a few Bennett supporters at least in the mix. These people are not going to be happy if this money starts going out to support Scott Smith.

Ted Simons: Let's keep moving here. Adam Clausen reveals he has a slow-growing leukemia that was diagnosed a year ago.

Howard Fischer: His statement is, I was feeling tired, I went to the doctor who tells him, you have this disease that affects white cell production. This is something that tends not to kill you. People live and die with it, although most of the time people get it when they are older and he's still in his thirties. He said, the word is getting out that he was sick. He said, I wanted to get ahead of it. The simple way of doing that, you put out a release, end of it. No, I’ve got to have a press conference. I'm here to answer all your questions. One of the great questions was, let's assume you lose the congressional race. Yet you've got a preexisting condition, you don't have insurance. Doesn't Obamacare help you, the very thing you're trying to kill? He says yes, but I have a different plan that will work for preexisting conditions.
Ted Simons: It is interesting because he is so much against the Affordable Care Act. He says he could lose access to quality doctors, he could have his health care rationed. This is weird kind of stuff when you're talking cancer, campaigns, Affordable Care Act.

Luige del Puerto: He maintains it's nothing to do with his congressional race, on that day that she went to the doctor, the day he was tired, he said it was after the debate over Obamacare.

Jeremy Duda: It makes a fine campaign narrative and he's probably going to need it.

Ted Simons: Is that still Tobin's to lose or is Tobin losing it?

Jeremy Duda: I think all three of them are kind of losing it now. No one has really impressed out of that field. Everyone assumed Tobin, you know, the Speaker of the House, he’s going to raise all this money – well, he hasn’t really raised much money, comparatively. Even though his opponents have made some pretty serious missteps and gaffs that have ended up on the "Colbert Report" and stuff like that, we haven’t seen any polls showing him ahead. It could be anyone's game at this point.

Luige del Puerto: One of the things I was told this morning, all the news articles created by him declaring he has cancer, it's all over that part of the state. And many of them are saying that he's running against Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election, so the theory is it is helping him and might help him. Frankly, no one's really raising money.

Howard Fischer: You've got another problem which is this is a very unusual district. It starts at the northern border goes to the eastern border around up through the valley where he lives and back up into Casa Grande and Florence. He is on the tail end of this dog here, so you've got a rancher from Arizona, a lawmaker who can see the district from his backyard so to speak. It'll be interesting to see how this three-way-race turns out.

Ted Simons: It's really getting rough and tumble here. Now Gallego, the Democrat, has a fundraiser and on the host committee is Fife Symington. And we should mention Johnston, not a democrat anymore, an independent, was hosting this whole thing.

Howard Fischer: We were trying to scratch our heads and say, who owes something here. Fife Symington owes his political career to Bill Clinton because of Clinton pardoning him and all sorts of weird stuff. Is it less pro-Gallego and more anti-Mary Rose Wilcox. I don't know whether Mary Rose crossed swords with Paul when she was the mayor of Phoenix or with someone when she was running for governor, whatever it is I don't want her more than I want Gallego.

Ted Simons: Is that money worth the image of having Symington supporting you at a fund-raiser?

Jeremy Duda: Well it depends what Mary Rose Wilcox can do with it. They immediately put out a press release saying anti-immigration Fife Symington is supporting Ruben Gallego because of some comments made when he testified in Congress in 1994 talking about the immigrant invasion. Are you going to put it on a mailer or a TV ad…?

Howard Fischer: Let's talk about the turnover in this state. There's a whole bunch of stuff there, I don't know what it means. Among some folks being supported by a Republican is the kiss of death. We’ve seen this in the Horne-Brnovich race in terms of, well you supported Pete Rios. Among the rest of the folks they don't care.

Ted Simons: But that is a race that seems to be an uber-Democrat race.

Luige del Puerto: It is a very democratic district, there’s no doubt about that. Whatever money that fundraiser will raise, Gallego will be able to use it.

Ted Simons: Tom Horne, Attorney General, he wanted a restraining order against the county attorney’s office because Montgomery says he doesn't particularly like Tom Horne? The restraining order request was denied. Any surprise there at all?

Howard Fischer: No, no surprise, for a couple of reasons. As the judge put it he said, look, if every time somebody didn’t like Tom Horne they’d be disqualified there’d be nobody left to investigate Tom Horne. Bill Montgomery is certainly supporting Mark Brnovich. Montgomery said, I am walling myself off much the same way Tom Horne says he's walled himself off from his own office's investigation of him. The judge said, I don't have any reason to preclude them from investigating, and if not them, who?. Yavapai County attorney has the charges against him, it's no surprise there. I think Tom's thinking like a lawyer instead of a politician. Every time one of these things comes up there's a story.

Ted Simons: Why am I supposed to presume the attorney's office is going to act unethically.

Luige del Puerto: You can't disqualify everything this office has done or is going to do based on the presumption that its head is politically leaning toward one way or the other.

Jeremy Duda: Even if you can get Bill Montgomery and whoever else is qualified, a week and a half from now it might not matter. [talking at once]

Ted Simons: We've got about a minute left. Hit us with this latest poll.

Howard Fischer: This latest poll by the parent group, fairly well-known for doing fairly accurate polls, shows Horne with a three-point lead over Brnovich. Horne has legal problems, ethical problems, the baseball cap and the whole routine. And yet Brnovich hasn't been able to close the deal. Heaven help -- look, we had a Jerry Louis in the legislature -- what I'm saying is it really sometimes comes down to that. And what's interesting is the more people who like the Tea Party, the more likely they are to vote for for Tom Horne.

Ted Simons: Are we surprised that, at least in one poll, Horne is doing that well?

Jeremy Duda: I kind of am. Most of the polls we’ve seen have shown Brnovich up but still not by double digits –- which you would expect from a guy who’s faced more than two years of scandals on the front page once a week – but he’s got a lot of support among those Tea Party voters like you mentioned Howie, among conservatives, the same people who hated him four years ago love him now because he’s been a very conservative attorney general.

It's still not up by tax deductible gauges from a guy who's faced more than two years of scandals on the front page for more than a week. You mentioned how among conservatives, the same people who hated him four years ago will love him now, he's been a very conservative attorney general.

Luige del Puerto: He's a formidable candidate with a consistent message and that resonates within his base.

Ted Simons: We will stop it right there. Great stuff, always is during the elections. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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