Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 8, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don’t miss HORIZON’s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.
Guests:
  • Chip Scutari - Arizona Republic
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript

Michael Grant:
It's Friday September 8, 2006. In the headlines this week, with just days to go before the primary election, candidates hard at work on the campaign trail. Senator John McCain has been busy this week endorsing a republican gubernatorial candidate, coming to the defense of Senator Jon Kyl. And Monday's immigration rally at the state capitol resulted in a smaller than expected turnout. That's next on Horizon.

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Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant, this is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are soon to not journalist Chip Scutari of the Arizona Republic, Mike Sunnucks of the Business Journal and Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services. Next Tuesday voters will head to the polls in the primary election, unlike past years very few contested races and voter turn out expected to be low. Chip, we're going to miss you.

Chip Scutari:
Thank you. I'll miss you, too. I won't miss Howie but I'll miss you.

Michael Grant: Gotcha. Are we going to see a record low -of course, the problem with this question is we don't know what a record low primary turnout is but are we going to have one not withstanding?

Chip Scutari:
I think it's safe we're not going to have a record turn out, and I don't think there will be a lot long lines at various polling places. And that is based on what Experts are talking their early ballot requests are down almost 40\% to 50\% as of today I think. So we're looking at a low turnout maybe 18 to 20\% which translates plates to about 200,000 folks which is a huge downturn from 2002 when we had Governor Napolitano going against Matt Salmon. But we also have to look at, the economy is doing well. There aren't a lot of statewide primaries as there were in 2002 at the AG and some of the other bigger races

Michael Grant:
Well and an open governor's chair too.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, and there's not a lot of buzz about these four republican gubernatorial candidates. They weren't on top of a lot of the republican's wish list even a year ago. People were talking about Mary Peters, Richard Carmona, Senate President Ken Bennett. And so there hasn't been a lot of buzz about this election.

Howard Fischer:
And that's really the key. I don't know if you folks saw the republic's endorsement, I use the term loosely, of Len Munsil this morning. I mean talking about damning with faint praise, It basically was, okay, we'll endorse Len, I mean if this is the best they can do boy are we in trouble here. It is a lackluster field. There are a lot of republicans out there who say yea what does it matter? There are some republicans who will not vote for any of them. There are some who like the way the state's being run and are probably going to vote for Napolitano. There are others who figure it doesn't matter because Janet's going to win. On the democratic side what have you got? You really only have one statewide race which is the school superintendent. I'll bet that only 3\% of our audience can give us the name of both candidates.

Michael Grant:
Very few contested legislative primaries in contrast to a couple of years when the republicans were in the process of, shall we say, dealing out party discipline. So there's not a lot of moving elements involved in this one. Well Mike let's turn to the gubernatorial primary. We have got a 4-way race but really a two-way race?

Mike Sunnucks:
It's really Munsil against Goldwater with Goldwater kind of appealing to the minutemen anti-immigration crowd and Munsil has the evangelical Christians, the antiabortion, antigay marriage folks with him. It's really between those two, Mike Harris and Tupper are kind of considered far back from that. I think the low turnout helps Munsil because he's got the grassroots network, probably a lot of early voters. He's got a fair amount of endorsements, he just picked up McCain's endorsement as well as the four congressmen, Rensey, Shadegg, Franks and Flake. So he's kind of got the conservative establishment behind him. So I would say he's, slight favorite right now.

Howard Fischer:
But, let me interject something here. You go out, you go to these precinct committee meetings and Chip's been at some of these, too. And you talk to people and they say, you know, I like that Don Goldwater. Well why? I remember his Uncle Barry, even if they weren't here. And there's such a funny factor in there.

Mike Sunnucks:
That's what the wild card is the name I.D.

Howard Fischer:
And it's going to be close, I mean you've got a couple of things that happen. Len got an extra 80,000 that we'll talk about. Don Goldwater who finally got his check on Tuesday for his clean elections money still hasn't managed to get himself up on the air I don't know whether it's just lack of organization and so clearly again that helps Len who has the organizational structure.

Chip Scutari:
Just to kind of piggyback on Howie's comment because Goldwater took so long to collect those $5 contributions Munsil was the only republican candidate who can have an early ballot campaign, send out a mail pieces hey if your going to vote early tell us so he can bank maybe 20 or 30 or thousand votes which is a big deal in this modern day where so many people vote early.

Mike Sunnucks:
Plus we, know that the Munsil crowd the anti-abortion, pro-life, evangelical Christians, the center for Arizona policy they've turned out. They are organized, they've got a good grassroots. They've turned out in past elections. We're not sure if the Goldwater folks are going to turn out. We got people who recognize him via his name and then we've got this kinda anti-immigration crowd which we don't know how organized or how passionate they are about turning out in the primary.

Michael Grant:
All right. Let's deal with money matters. As we mentioned, Don Goldwater did in fact get his money finally from clean elections, 450,000 bucks on Tuesday. And he's got to spend it all by Tuesday at midnight. That's a challenge.

Chip Scutari:
Well, according to his campaign he told us that they have I think two TV ads in rotation. They already have internet ads up on AZ central which pops up and it can play a video and they have banner headlines, they have a radio ad and a mail piece so I think they're going to spend through it by Tuesday. You know you have to really or else it goes back into the clean elections kitty. And we saw this in 2002 with former state treasurer Carol Springer who got I think a million dollars with about three weeks to go. So you can spend through the money and consultants aren't afraid to spend it, and they will make some money on media buys.

Mike Sunnucks:
And that did really nothing really for Springer in that race, she was a distant third.

Chip Scutari:
And the one intriguing thing really about this primary is it really is too close to call. And there's been no money to do significant tracking polls so unlike 2002 when we knew Matt Salmon was going to wallop Betsy Bales this one really is nip and tuck and can go either way.

Michael Grant: Although the polling data that we have seen and I don't think we've polled on the race for a couple of months, if memory served, did at that point in time indicate that Don Goldwater had what, maybe 7, 8, 9 points on Len Munsil.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, he had a double digit lead in most polls but you know people were thinking that was a reflection of the magic of his surname and you know Munsil's crowd as Mike mentioned goes to the polls and they're not in a lot of these phone surveys. So we'll see if it's really Munsil's organization vs. Goldwater's famous name.

Mike Sunnucks:
A huge block of undecided folks in that poll, too, what 40 some percent?

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, it's a big number

Michael Grant:
Alright, sticking with the greenback theme for a moment, Len Munsil gets 80,000 more greenbacks from clean elections? How does this work?

Howard Fischer:
Well, have you ever seen these sort of wheel of fortune things you spin the wheel and you get the award? I think that's where the 80,000 came from. As we've talked about on the show, there was a last-minute push-poll done on Len, by we don't know who, nobody's come forward. And somebody calls around and asks three questions one is about Goldwater will you support him if you knew he supported a wall? Okay. Second question, Len Munsil has portrayed himself as a family values candidate. Would you support him if you knew he had an illegitimate child? Now, Len says that's false. It was conceived before the marriage but born afterwards so that's different. Then third one said will you support Len Munsil if you knew he said that god caused 9/11, which is -- he aloud -- that was not what he said but the poll question was god caused it. Len said, I've been fined essentially and under some precedent independent expenditures designed to influence elections on publicly funded candidates have to be matched. Okay, how do you match that? Len using some formulas set up under an earlier case this year said, okay. We've got 313 potential -- 313,000 potential registered voters, it costs 72 cents a call I ought to get almost a million dollars which Todd Lange of the clean elections commission said wait a second. That's 50\% above what you're getting now for one lousy thing? So they kicked it around and they said, he ought to get something. Now the problem is we don't know how many calls were made. Maybe only 12. How many people were reached? So what do we come up with? I know. $80,000.

Michael Grant:
Well, you know every little bit helps.

Chip Scutari:
And to be fair Todd Lange the executive director of clean elections commission, he was in a tough spot because it looks like express advocacy. Howie and I were both at the clean elections meeting. There was almost no discussion about the Munsil commission if there should be matching funds and they almost went automatically with Todd's recommendation so there wasn't a lot of disagreement about that.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think it shows the silliness of this system, a random number picked out of nowhere. This comes on the heels of them saying that Napolitano campaign violated the rules by spending money early and then gave no penalty for it. And so maybe we should look at just going private and letting the market place decide these things.

Michael Grant:
Well okay, we got a few other things to talk about on this primary so let me wrap this segment up. Mike what do you think? Who wins the republican primary next Tuesday?

Mike Sunnucks:
Munsil.

Michael Grant: Alright, Chip?

Chip: I say Munsil in a squeaker.

Michael Grant:
Howie?

Howard Fischer:
I'm going with a squeaker but I'm going with Goldwater because Chip and I have a lunch bet on this thing and I'm counting on a very nice lunch courtesy of the soon-to-be publicist, here who's going to be paid a lot of money.

Michael Grant:
Superintendent of public instruction Slade Mead and Jason Williams it's a democrat primary. Who wins that one?

Howard Fischer:
Well Slade Mead is a very good campaigner. He obviously is a state lawmaker. He clearly has some name I.D. and knows how to do it but Jason has been spending a lot of money which has resulted again in those funny little matches there. I'm not sure that you talk to democrats and this goes back to my original point. Democrats are getting those early ballots and saying, huh? And I think it's going to come down in a lot of cases to whose name they recognize. Now Slade's is more recognizable. Now some of the democrats may remember though that Slade up until recently was a republican. Now, whether that sours them on him hard to say.

Michael Grant:
Let's go down to --

Mike Sunnucks:
Slade's also got the endorsement of the teacher's union so I think that's a big advantage.

Michael Grant:
That helps.

Michael Grant:
Chip let's go down to Southeast Arizona. Jim Colby is vacating the seat after what, 11 terms, I think. Very heavily contested primaries on both sides. Let's focus on the democratic primary first. As a race primarily between Gabby Gifford's former legislator, Patty Weiss former TV anchor but the poll data indicates that Gabby Gifford is walking away with it.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, the early thinking was that Patty Weiss had been on TV for a number of years, she's going to win this primary. But Gabby's campaign has done a phenomenal job of raising money, organizing, getting key endorsements. And it looks like she's going to win, if you believe the polls, by a comfortable margin. The republican side Randy Graff, Don Goldwater anti-immigration build a wall at border versus Steve Huffman moderate republican, state lawmaker and current polls show Graff in the lead. This is the race in Arizona. A lot of national attention. Probably talk about the national committee spending money in the primary which is very odd and it upset most of the other candidates. But this is the biggest election in Arizona across the nation.

Howard Fischer:
And it really is. One of the interesting things was that on some of the polls we're showing actually it was Graff then Mike Helen then Steve Huffman before all that money got poured in there. I mean, Steve is not much of the campaigner got one of the stupider border ads I've ever seen. Steve walking around with a flash life. We're going to get those illegals. Say what? He's not a great campaigner. He's a basically decent fellow. But somebody like Randy Graff who is a real firebrand. He's the Don Goldwater if you will of district date --

Mike Sunnucks:
He ran against Colby got 40\% with no money ran against a strong incumbent in Colby got 40\% last time. So he's been running hard for four years.

Howard Fischer:
I think some of the republicans are chewing on if Randy is the candidate, what happens, are there republicans who will not vote for him? We already know from talking to Jim Colby he will not endorse Randy. Fact is he might do what we talked about is he might do what Barry Goldwater did years ago in Northern Arizona and decide to endorse the democrat as an alternative.

Chip Scutari:
I think what the NRCC spending 122,000 in this race in the primary it shows the republicans, at the white house and the RNC and DC are worried about losing the majority in the house to spend money in a primary is very unusual.

Michael Grant:
Everybody subscribe to the conventional wisdom that if Randy Graff wins down there the democrats take it automatically?

Mike Sunnucks:
I would think the democrats would be favored in that but immigration is such a wild card issue there could be enough anger to with Graff will pull it out but I think Gifford's is the favorite.

Michael Grant:
Key legislative races. Mike there aren't many.

Mike Sunnucks:
No we do not have many seats just a couple of state senate republican primaries up. Allan Rabat and Carpenter and Gorman in Phoenix.

Michael Grant:
In the Colette Razati one has been drawing attention. It's been down and dirty.

Mike Sunnucks:
It is ugly. A lot of accusations talk about religion and abortion and social wedge issues and both of them are prone to very controversial remarks.

Chip Scutari:
One other key one is in district one to take Ken Bennett's seat up in Prescott, Northern Arizona area where Tom O'Halleran state represent is running against a Baptist Minister by the name of William Stole. So huge contested primaries, very important for moderate republicans and for the democrats because O'Halleran and Ken Allen and Toni Winn can win there's a moderate base she can work with in the future.

Howard Fischer:
What's important we talked about over the years in the show is for 25 of the 30 districts this is the election that barring something really strange happening like when the house speaker Jeff Groseclose lost his seat republican districts vote republican. If you don't elect the person you want now, this is it.

Michael Grant:
Now, one issue on the ballot also in Scottsdale, the adult clubs, Prop 401 is on there. That's kind of strange.

Howard Fischer:
Well, you know, I won't talk about my conflict of interest in that. This is a whole Jenna Jameson case where the moralists who exist in and around Scottsdale City Council decided we can't have strip clubs here. They were unable to drive her out of business legitimately so they basically came in and bypassed the normal ordinance process and shoved through this new law that says such things as dancers have to be four feet from customers. Tell me what kind of lap dance you're going to get four feet away. Might as well get the binoculars out and forget about shoving the money into the g string.

Michael Grant:
You're getting dangerously close to your conflict of interest.

Howard Fischer:
I want you to know Capitol Media services funded a field trip there.

[laughter]

Howard Fischer:
What happened as you know is that the opponents to the ordinance got enough signatures to get to throw it on the ballot.

Mike Sunnucks:
These are the strip clubs you're talking about.

Howard Fischer:
But they clearly had enough people to do it. What's going to be interesting in -- now the churches are getting involved saying we need to preserve that ordinance and this is going to be a very classic battle between those who say, you know, look, if you don't want to go to a strip club don't go and those who say you shouldn't go --

Mike Sunnucks:
Bipartisan folks supporting the ban. You have Harry Mitchell and J.D. Hayworth and Mary Manross whose a Democrat, Meg Cahill, Len Munsil so it's kind of cut across party lines.

Howard Fischer:
Of course they're going to do that, because it's a safe position but that doesn't make it right. I love the fact that we're all big business supporters except for certain kinds of business.

Mike Sunnucks:
The city has the right to regulate its businesses.

Michael Grant:
You truly enjoyed the field trip. We can tell this. Try not to be quite as emotional about this one.

[laughter]

Michael Grant:
A superior court judge has kicked -- now I'm going to the November ballot, Proposition 405 city of Phoenix is going to vote on the issue of whether or not basically City of Phoenix had to enter into a compact with the Federal Government to enforce Immigration Law. And a superior court judge kicked that off November's ballot.

Howard Fischer:
What the judge said is that when Randy Pullen first turned in his number of signatures, a number were found invalid the city aloud him to come back with some more. The court said, well, that's true. That's in the Phoenix city charter but state law governs what cities can do within certain parameters. And based on that all the supplemental signatures had to go out the window plus the fact there were two sets of petitions circulated by felons because they're not eligible to vote their signatures don't count and that left them below. Now Pullen told me today that he is going to take the case to the Supreme Court. But here's what happens. Because today was the last day to really qualify for the November ballot even if Randy wins at the Supreme Court now we've shoved it back to march which takes it out of the general election, out of the whole high-profile issue of immigration how it effects the statewide races and puts it on a local ballot with a lower turnout.

Mike Sunnucks:
But there's still what two or three other immigration ballots the legislature put in there including English language as the official language so they should still be able to get that immigration crowd out in November.

Michael Grant:
Chip on the immigration related issue fairly low turnout for that immigration rally on Monday.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah. We don't know if that was because it was Labor Day or the timing of it. But one thing that's clear is they really want these rallies to register people to vote and that hasn't been the case. The numbers have been way down from what they predicted. So I don't know if they're going to rethink their strategy nationally but a lot of these rallies across the country these pro immigration rallies have been lower turnouts than expected.

Howard Fischer:
One of the big problems in the Hispanic community and even Alfredo Gutierrez recognized that while the new immigrants legal immigrants don't have a lot of connection it's going to be their children. You need to plant the seeds now and 15 years from now these kids will be a real force to be reckoned which.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the democrats thought immigration might be a real issue for them, but then you had the San Diego race where Bill Hawk won and I think that pulled them back to think the conservatives have advantage on that.

Michael Grant:
Former Arizona Department of Transportation Director Mary Peters has been tabbed by President Bush to become the new Secretary of Transportation. Mike, why did Mary Peters get the nod?

Mike Sunnucks:
She used to be the state transportation secretary. She served as federal highway transportation administrator for three years she talked about running for governor and stepped down from that post and she came out here and flap over whether she was an Arizona resident or Virginia resident in DC and she pulled out of the governor's race. She is a loyal Bush person, noncontroversial, pretty well-liked but low-key so it should go through easily confirmation I would imagine.

Michael Grant:
Really remarkable career for her. I believe she started out as a secretary in the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Mike Sunnucks:
All the way up. And she's had run-ins with a few folks, Russell Pearce I believe and other folks but she's pretty well-liked and they liked her as a gubernatorial candidate until she opted not to run.

Chip Scutari:
Another reporter on the story interviewed about four or five people across the political spectrum. Everyone who said Mary is a person who gets things done. She'll cut through the red tape get things done. Very complimentary about how she helped them speed up freeway projects. So one thing about it she gets things done. I think she's been underestimated kind of her whole life and she keeps exceeding expectations.

Mike Sunnucks:
It could set her up for a governor next time. I think she's going to keep her Arizona residency.

Michael Grant:
Good idea. She's not going to register to vote again in was it Virginia?

Howard Fischer:
It was Virginia. What happened is she just figured well just because I'm voting in Virginia doesn't make me a resident. No, Mary, it does.

Michael Grant: A couple of fairly interesting business developments locally this week. Let's start with the Intel layoff announcement nationwide. Do we yet know, mike, how much local impact there may be?

Mike Sunnucks:
The best estimate is maybe 1,000 people if you take the nationwide percentage of what they're cutting if they cut even across all their operations be about 1,000 people but they're not saying specifically a lot of corporations do that when they announce these layoffs they don't give you state by state or market by market numbers but pretty substantial.

Michael Grant:
Stated reason for it?

Mike Sunnucks:
Cutting costs and reorganizing. These corporations go through these things. Semiconductors and computer chips are a very roller coaster type industry so you'll see big expansions and then some pull backs.

Howard Fischer:
Intel for years has tried to rely on the memory chips and concluded there's no money being made there and went to the semiconductors. The good news for Arizona is even though they're doing layoffs they're completing this bill dollar plant in Chandler which is going to mean new hires here. I think they recognize there's a good qualified work force in Arizona and they can get people here and we'll build the latest generation.

Chip Scutari:
Now, are those real cuts or attrition?

Mike Sunnucks:
Some cuts attrition and some retirement usually thing and offer some severance packages to folks to step forward but they will do some layoffs. Undetermined whether they're going to do them here and how much.

Michael Grant:
Phelps Dodge bid to become a much larger mining entity. It's pretty big already but that also went down.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, like a 17 billion-dollar deal with a Canadian company called Inko a nickel miner looked like it wasn't going to go through with the shareholders so they pulled out. Copper has been the price has been very high lately with U.S. and China demand and there's some concern copper may go down as the housing demand drops and china kind of levels off its economic growth but doing very well lately.

Howard Fischer:
I love the fact these deals are always set up that there's a walk away fee. So Phelps Dodge still makes money on the deal. What a wonderful way to do business where you make a bid on somebody you don't get it, well, here a couple million dollars for your trouble.

Michael Grant:
It's usually bigger than a couple million, though.

Chip Scutari:
It buys a lot of lap dances. [laughter]

Michael Grant:
reenhouse gasses?

Howard Fischer:
Yeah. The governor has been trying to talk up the issue of what states can do. Because where the federal government is really interested or not EPA is trying to figure out do they want to regulate them. Some states have moved down that path. California has adopted some measures there where they're going to adopt certain measures with more stringent standards particularly for tail pipe emissions. What they had done in the last decade on other kinds of admissions. The governor said today she wants to reduce greenhouse gasses by 2020 to what they were in 2000 and cut them in half again by 2040. One of the things you do is you have Arizona specific emissions for greenhouse gasses. Now, this of course raises a couple of questions. Does she have the legal right to do it, does she need legislation, does it comply with federal law? And even if so are people willing to pay more in Arizona for a vehicle to cut tail pipe emissions on greenhouse gasses which they may not consider a pollute ant?

Michael Grant:
All right, well, panelists we'll see what happens on Tuesday. Thanks very much for the primary preview. And we're out of time.

Larry Lemmons:
A preview of the primary election September 12. The republicans will choose a candidate to run against Governor Janet Napolitano and other significant races will be discussed. Also the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001 we'll see the dedication of a new memorial in Wesley Bolin Plaza Monday night at 7:00 on Channel 8's Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Tuesday, we'll talk about the general subject of low voter turnout which of course particularly a problem as we have discussed in primary elections. On Wednesday, we will recap the results of the primary assuming we have them by that point. Thursday, you can learn about Proposition 200. That's the one that would award some lucky voter $1 million for voting if it gets approved. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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