Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 27, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Harry Mitchell


  • A conversation with incoming Congressman Harry Mitchell, who defeated Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth in the Fifth Congressional District.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U. S. Congressman
  • Thayer Verschoor - Arizona Senate Majority Leader
Category: Elections

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, we talk to the new representative of Congressional district 5, Harry Mitchell, before he heads off to Washington. And the state's next legislative session promises to be somewhat different from the last. A look ahead to 2007 with legislative leaders, coming up next on "Horizon".

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon, I'm Michael Grant. He is the former mayor of Tempe, a former state legislator, and now, he is a United States Congressman-elect. Harry Mitchell will represent the fifth Congressional district in Washington when the session begins in January. He defeated longtime incumbent J.D. Hayworth in a close and somewhat bitter campaign. Joining us to talk about the campaign and the future, Congressman-elect Harry Mitchell.

Michael Grant:
Harry, congratulations.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you, Michael. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
[Chuckles] Still makes me chuckle, kind of.

Harry Mitchell:
Yea. It's hard to believe, even to myself.

Michael Grant:
I would think so. Election night, what kind of experience was that for you? Was it somewhat surreal?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it was, mainly because there were so many supporters in that room, so many people that helped volunteer in the campaign. It was exciting. We left that evening ahead, of course, and we just assumed that was the way it was going to be. But of course you never know, when there are so many votes left to be counted. But it was surreal, just to be -- it was just exciting. And I say, even when I went back to Washington for the orientation, after teaching government all these years --

Michael Grant:
Sure.

Harry Mitchell:
-- And to be there among the statues, the buildings, and all the things where so much history was made, I was pinching myself, yeah.

Michael Grant:
You know, I -- You know better than I would, but I want to say there was about 140,000 votes or so counted on Election Night, or thereabouts. Last time I checked, another 60,000 had come in. During that, well really, weeklong or so process there, did you have any reason to believe that 60,000 votes outstanding, realistically, was going to produce a significantly different result than the 140,000 that had come in?

Harry Mitchell:
No, I didn't know what the final count was going to be, of course, but I figured that all of those votes that haven't been counted probably represented a good cross-section of this district and this county. So thinking that way, it's probably just a random sample of what the vote was all about, and I expected us to win, even. I just had no idea what it would be.

Michael Grant:
You know, on election night, and for that matter, the day after election, and I think on the Friday edition, we were speculating about how Harry Mitchell won this thing. 17-point registration advantage for Republicans in that district, you're running against a six-term incumbent, and fairly popular--

Harry Mitchell:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
--Congressman. Certainly controversial, but high profile.

Harry Mitchell:
High name ID, very high name ID.

Michael Grant:
Absolutely high name ID. What do you credit your victory to? What do you think were the key component parts to overcoming those kinds of odds?

Harry Mitchell:
Well, I think a couple. One, we had a very good campaign in place to target people. We had a lot of people walking door to door, we had lots of people on telephones, a lot of mail. And I just think the issues we were talking about, I think, resonated with the people in this district. I think a lot of times Congressman Hayworth was out of touch on some of these issues. I think we hit the issues we thought were important to the constituents of this district, and we continued to make individual contact. And that was important. We had, at the very end, in the last four or five days before the election, we had as many as 800 volunteers. And I was excited about that, because here we were making contact with voters, getting out the vote. Of course, we were targeting Democrats who hadn't voted very much before, and I think there was a general feeling also that there needed to be a change. People were tired of the way things were going in Washington, the way business was being conducted. I think a lot of people, which was probably true nationwide, thought a change was needed. I think that helped us in our campaign, as well.

Michael Grant:
There seemed to be a significant momentum shift, I would say in the last, say, three weeks of the campaign, perhaps partly attributable to the phenomenon you talked about, sort of a general backlash against Washington. You obviously were there and following the trends and those kinds of things. Was there that kind of shift, in the, let's call it early October time frame?

Harry Mitchell:
I think there was. We had made some progress throughout the campaign. Early on, Survey U.S.A. had us 12 points down, then they had us three points down, and then the last poll showed us two points ahead, still within the margin of error. But I think there was a major shift, and I don't know if there were more events happening nationally. But I think the fact that we continued, we spent a lot of time and a lot of money in the last couple weeks on TV, as well as mailers, and again, contacting voters in person. So we really put a big effort towards the very end. We didn't have a lot of money, but we thought the best time would be towards the end, and that's what we did.

Michael Grant:
Let's go to the orientation. You went back, jeez, almost immediately afterwards.

Harry Mitchell:
Right.

Michael Grant:
You've already mentioned it. That was, I would imagine, a pretty significant experience.

Harry Mitchell:
Oh, absolutely. It was - and I said, there were a couple of times I got kind of emotional, kind of choked up. One of them was standing on the steps of the capitol, taking our class picture. You know how all group pictures are; it takes a while to get everybody settled--

Michael Grant:
Sure.

Harry Mitchell:
--And there were so many people in the press out in the audience, or out beyond the rope, which I had never seen that many press people, for one. And then standing there, getting ready, I looked out and saw the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the office buildings, and that was very touching to think that here I was, and what I was doing. I have to admit --

Michael Grant:
Goose bumps for a government teacher?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it was, very much so. And I would say also, you know, in those kinds of times, my family was very important. And I thought about my mom and dad and the help that, when I first got started way back in the City Council races, the work my dad put into it. And my grandfather was in the State Legislature when I was a kid, and that's how I got interested in politics.

Michael Grant:
Oh, I didn't realize that.

Harry Mitchell:
He got me out of school. He lived a block away and he got me out of school and I'd spend the day with him at the legislature. And then I got old enough to drive. I was putting signs up. When he couldn't see to drive at night, so I would drive him to meetings, and that was my interest. So it was kind of a nice family memory.

Michael Grant:
Let's talk about some mechanical things. What committees have you put in for?

Harry Mitchell:
One I felt would be very important for this district, to serve the constituents of this district and the state, is the Energy and Commerce Committee. It's one of the Exclusive Committees, which means it's one of the top committees, it's an important one, because there's such a far-reaching arch of issues that come before them, and a lot of them fit this district because of our hospitality, and out tourism, and our transportation needs, our energy as a growing area, a lot of the issues that confront this area are handled by that committee, and that's the one I'm trying to get on.

Michael Grant:
When do you get word on that? Is that a process that takes another few weeks?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it will. It will be in December. They haven't really named yet the committees which will be making recommendations and making some of the selections of those committee people. So it'll be a while.

Michael Grant:
Let's say we're sitting here in two years. For Harry Mitchell, are there certain most key two or three things, particularly with a focus on the 5th Congressional District, that you'd like to be sitting here in two years saying, okay, I got that accomplished and that accomplished?

Harry Mitchell:
Yeah. I think one of the most important issues in this campaign and everywhere is the issue of Illegal Immigration. I think that needs to be addressed right away. I think the new Congress is pretty much I believe in tune with the President on comprehensive reform for Illegal Immigration, I think that's one. Just the whole tenor of the way business is being conducted in Washington. On the agenda is an ethics reform, and just a new approach to doing business.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of new approaches, it has been suggested that an independent body should be set up, independent from Congress, to assess ethics violations. How do you feel about that?

Harry Mitchell:
I've heard that, and at first blush I think that may be a good idea. I'm not certain; I'd have to see the details of it. But somebody said it would operate somewhat like a grand jury. If there's enough evidence, then you bring it to the Ethics Committee. And the very fact that during the last Congress, some people were trying to play "change the rules" a little bit for people who were charged with ethics violations. I think this would certainly not be a bad idea.

Michael Grant:
If you subscribe to the theory that Americans feel something is going dysfunctionally wrong there, seems to me there is an argument to be made that you do something different than just, if you'll pardon the expression, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Harry Mitchell:
Right. I think you're right. When I first read that, I said, "Well, that intriguing, why not?" What we've had before hasn't really worked, as you say. So I think it would be very worthwhile.

Michael Grant:
On the immigration side, the general feeling is that if Congress doesn't get something done on that before the presidential election cycle starts -- and I'm not sure that isn't like yesterday
Harry Mitchell: It's only started

Michael Grant:
-- But in general, if Congress doesn't get something done on that by summer, it's going to be dead for the next two years. Do you subscribe to that?

Harry Mitchell:
Well, I don't know. I don't know how the process is going to go. And all the things that are in place for that, I don't know. But I really believe it's got to be addressed right away. It's just -- I think it's a crime to see the need for this, and not be able to address that need. And when I say the need for it, when you look, Maricopa County has 3\% unemployment rate, and the state has 3.6, there's a need for workers--

Michael Grant: Right

Harry Mitchell:
--And there are workers that want jobs. We've got to find a way to allow this to happen.

Michael Grant:
So obviously, a supporter of the Guest Worker Program. What about increased sanctions for employers who knowingly hire?

Harry Mitchell:
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. If you're going to have a decent Guest Worker Program, people have to fall within the bounds of that, and play by the rules. And those who want to go around it, once we've even established a Guest Worker Program, certainly have to be held accountable, and absolutely, you have to toughen it.

Michael Grant:
The toughest issue is, whatever you want to label it, a pathway to citizenship for those who are here, no pathway to citizenship, what's your position?

Harry Mitchell:
I think I agree with McCain's bill that there's got to be a pathway, and there's got to be some steps in place to allow this to happen. Everything from having a police background check, to having a job, to being here for a number of years, to learn English, pay a fine, pay a fee for -- to be -- start the process -- there's a whole number of series which I think are reasonable. I think we ought to be looking at those.

Michael Grant:
No concern at all, though, despite the hurdles you place there, you're basically saying to the next generation, that's OK, you know, if you get over here, we'll cut you some slack when you get here? That you're sending the wrong signal?

Harry Mitchell:
But I think the real issue is, that the reason you're illegal is because of our immigration program. If we have a Guest Worker Program, and people can come back and forth, and they come here to work, and the program sends them back afterwards, I don't think you'll find people over here wanting to work, and then trying to hide and stay here. We've got to have a system where people who come here to work, we keep track of them. Part of our problem, half the illegal immigrants that are here now, are here because they overstayed their visas. Even though we allow people in here, we don't have a good way to keep track of them. That's got to be part of the program.

Michael Grant:
Congressman-elect Harry Mitchell, thank you very much for joining us.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Congratulations.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
When the 48th Legislative Session convenes in January, there will be just few differences from last session. How the dynamics will play out will be a discussion I'll be having with a couple of legislative leaders. But first, here's a look at some of the changes.

Larry Lemmons:
Republicans remain the majority in both houses of the Legislature, but Democrats picked up a total of seven seats, six in the House and one in the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans lead 17-13, in the House, they lead 33-27. Leadership has changed in most positions. In the Senate, Tim Bee succeeds Ken Bennett as Senate President. Thayer Verschoor is Majority Leader, and the Majority Whip is John Huppenthal. On the Democratic Side, Marsha Arzberger is Minority Leader. Jorge Luis Garcia is the Assistant Minority Leader, and Rebecca Rios is Whip. In the House, Jim Weiers remains the Speaker of the House. Tom Boone is Majority Leader, and Majority Whip is John McComich. Phil lopes remains the House Minority Leader. Jack Brown is Assistant Minority Leader, and the Democrats' Whip is Steve Gallardo.

Michael Grant:
Joining me now to discuss how these changes could affect the relationship between the legislative branches and, for that matter, the Executive Branch, is the Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, and new grandfather, House Minority Leader Phil Lopes.

Michael Grant:
I just found out you're a new grandfather.

Phil Lopes:
That's correct.

Michael Grant:
Congratulations. Gentlemen, good to see you. Pretty significant -- let me start on the House side, because that was a pretty significant sea change for Democrats. You picked up six seats, Republicans still control the majority, but it's 33 to 27.

Phil Lopes:
Correct.

Michael Grant:
How much does that change the dynamics over there?

Phil Lopes:
It remains to be seen in actuality, but in theory, it changes it considerably. Because for the -- Obviously, we only need three votes to get the 30 to stop stuff. We need 31 votes to do stuff. So getting from 27 to 30 or 27 to 31 is much easier than getting from 21, which is where we were last session, to 31. So theoretically, we should do better in stopping what we consider bad stuff, and promoting what we consider good stuff.

Michael Grant:
You know, I have observed, though, from time to time over the years, that sometimes when the Majority Party -- and of course, in this state, in recent history, that's normally been the Republicans --

Phil Lopes:
Since statehood, right? Just kidding. [laughter]

Michael Grant:
-- Has too many votes to spare. I have, at times, seen a smaller caucus hanging together rather than hanging separately, and it being a more manageable task than if you've got a 38 or a 39, and somebody says, well, you don't need my vote, and you don't need my vote. Any of that involved?

Phil Lopes:
That could well be. Again, in theory, that could well be. But I think what's one of the dynamics that's going to change as a result of these numbers is that the extremes on the political spectrum will have less influence. I think you'll see that. So if that in fact happens, then I'm not sure even in theory, whether those numbers work out, as you say, if we're essentially moving to the middle of the road because we have to in order to get the numbers to add up.

Michael Grant:
Well, let's go over to the Senate side of this equation. Obviously not the same kind of sea change in terms of numbers, 17-13 for the Republicans, instead of 18-12. Does that change the dynamic significantly?

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, I don't know that it does change the dynamic that significantly in the senate, Michael. I mean, I think what's going to be the difference is, obviously, the leadership, and I think one of the things that we recognize is that, you know, that they did rather well in both the House and the Governor's race. And so, we're going to have that to deal with. I think it presents us with some great opportunities.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of leadership, let's go to leadership staff, President-Elect Tim Bee, canning all senior staff.

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, I don't like to think of it that way. [Laughter]

Michael Grant:
I think those guys might be thinking of it that way.

Thayer Verschoor:
I think -- and I support the President Bee's decision there. You know, what he's looking for is some fresh ideas, some innovation. It's time to, you know -- He has a direction he wants to see us going in there, in the Senate, and he wants to bring people in that he believes can see that vision.

Michael Grant:
Is this a case of senior staff getting out of touch with the Senators that they're supposed to serve, or at least some of them?

Thayer Verschoor:
You know, I don't know that it's that. I think mostly what it is, you know, I think the President Bee felt it was time for a change, that, you know, we've been -- sometimes you kind of get stuck in just doing things the way you've been doing it, because that's the way you've always done it. And I think he believes that, you know, that people are looking to us in the Senate, as leadership here in the State, to be innovative and forward-thinking, and be progressive, and I think that's kind of direction he wants to head in.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to the Loyal Opposition over here to start this round of questioning.

Michael Grant:
Governor Janet Napolitano thought she got a real mandate. You could look at here 30-point victory and perhaps reach that conclusion. Does that make Democrats' influence in the legislature maybe stronger than it ordinarily would have, even given your numbers of gains, just simply because you've got a governor that won by that wide a margin?

Phil Lopes:
Yes, no question, no question. And people have won with a lot fewer percentage points and called it a mandate, so I think it's easy to call this a mandate. But yes, I mean, we've been -- even with the numbers we had before, with the Governor's leadership, we were able to do some things that we wouldn't be able to do if she hadn't been sitting in the chair. So having her major win, having our increased numbers, we think, for example, that when agency people come in before committees, they're not going to be treated quite the same way as they have been in the past, because of her mandate, and because of our numbers. I think that's one of the dynamics that will change. Agency people and agency lobbyists will get treated differently.

Michael Grant:
Senator, what's your take on that? It does seem to me that the Governor has a pretty strong argument that the people of Arizona sent her back with a resounding victory. Does she pick up more clout in this process?

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, you know, Michael, and I -- there's no doubt that she had that large victory, and I think that's part of the things we have to recognize. And I think, you know, to say she has a mandate, you know what, when I look at her campaign commercials and see what she ran on, she says, I eliminated the deficit, I maxed out the rainy day fund, I gave you a $500 million tax cut -- when we look at those thing she ran on, I'm the only governor to put the National Guard on the border. Hey, if that's the mandate, I can support that mandate. And I think we might even come back and look at some more of those issues, tax cuts again for the future and this session, and more issues dealing with immigration. I think those are things we'll talk about.

Michael Grant:
Let me move to issues. Does the Senate have an agenda at this point in time? Are there certain key pieces of legislation?

Thayer Verschoor:
I think we're working on it. Some of the stuff, obviously, that's going to be important is transportation, and I think that's an issue we'll agree on both sides of the aisle with the Governor's Office. We'll put more into our transportation infrastructure, into freeway acceleration.

Michael Grant:
More one-time infusions? Similar to what happened -- Is the money there?

Thayer Verschoor:
If we have that, we're going to look at that. We haven't got the figures in on that, but it looks like there's going to be some funding available. The immigration, some of the immigration issues, some of the stuff the Governor said she supported, employer sanctions, toughening those up, I think those are some things we'll be looking at that, as well as furthering the Prop 200 stuff that we saw pass so overwhelmingly on the ballot. If you look at some of the things that passed on the ballot. Those, again, were good Conservative things. 207, private property rights, all the immigration bills passed at the 70 percentile plus.

Michael Grant:
Representative Lopes, it was kind of a mixed message that voters were sending. All four of the immigration propositions cleared overwhelmingly, in the two Congressional Districts where maybe they played most heavily, the result was different. Do Democrats have to look differently at some of these immigration proposals, in light of what happened at the ballot box?

Phil Lopes:
I don't think so, because we have always taken the position, for example, that employer sanctions needed to happen. But they need to happen in a way that does not run the risk of destroying our economy. So that's not a change for us. Does it -- do -- does the vote on the Proposition mean that we now would support not allowing undocumented people into a class to learn English? Absolutely not. We want people to learn English. That Proposition passed. So my point is that you can pick and choose, and we will do that.

Michael Grant:
Representative Phil Lopes, thank you very much for joining us. Senator Thayer Verschoor, good to see you. Gentlemen, best of luck.

Thayer Verschoor:
Thank you.

Phil Lopes:
Thank you.

Announcer:
An Arizona law aimed at cracking down on Human Smugglers is at the center of a class action lawsuit in Phoenix. Plus, a look at a very unique report entitled "Arizona Ideas." The report examines policy ideas rather than problems. Tuesday on "Horizon".

Michael Grant:
Wednesday, we'll take a look at the Phoenix Art Museum expansion, and Thursday, the Cactus League is undergoing a change, Glendale is the winner. Thanks for being here on Monday, I'm Michael Grant. Have a great night. Good night.

state Legislature Dynamics


  • A look at how the political relationships in the State Legislature may be changing now that Democrats have gained seven seats. Democratic State Representative Phil Lopes will discuss the issue with a Republican State Senator Thayer Verschoor.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U. S. Congressman
  • Thayer Verschoor - Arizona Senate Majority Leader
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, we talk to the new representative of Congressional district 5, Harry Mitchell, before he heads off to Washington. And the state's next legislative session promises to be somewhat different from the last. A look ahead to 2007 with legislative leaders, coming up next on "Horizon".

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon, I'm Michael Grant. He is the former mayor of Tempe, a former state legislator, and now, he is a United States Congressman-elect. Harry Mitchell will represent the fifth Congressional district in Washington when the session begins in January. He defeated longtime incumbent J.D. Hayworth in a close and somewhat bitter campaign. Joining us to talk about the campaign and the future, Congressman-elect Harry Mitchell.

Michael Grant:
Harry, congratulations.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you, Michael. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
[Chuckles] Still makes me chuckle, kind of.

Harry Mitchell:
Yea. It's hard to believe, even to myself.

Michael Grant:
I would think so. Election night, what kind of experience was that for you? Was it somewhat surreal?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it was, mainly because there were so many supporters in that room, so many people that helped volunteer in the campaign. It was exciting. We left that evening ahead, of course, and we just assumed that was the way it was going to be. But of course you never know, when there are so many votes left to be counted. But it was surreal, just to be -- it was just exciting. And I say, even when I went back to Washington for the orientation, after teaching government all these years --

Michael Grant:
Sure.

Harry Mitchell:
-- And to be there among the statues, the buildings, and all the things where so much history was made, I was pinching myself, yeah.

Michael Grant:
You know, I -- You know better than I would, but I want to say there was about 140,000 votes or so counted on Election Night, or thereabouts. Last time I checked, another 60,000 had come in. During that, well really, weeklong or so process there, did you have any reason to believe that 60,000 votes outstanding, realistically, was going to produce a significantly different result than the 140,000 that had come in?

Harry Mitchell:
No, I didn't know what the final count was going to be, of course, but I figured that all of those votes that haven't been counted probably represented a good cross-section of this district and this county. So thinking that way, it's probably just a random sample of what the vote was all about, and I expected us to win, even. I just had no idea what it would be.

Michael Grant:
You know, on election night, and for that matter, the day after election, and I think on the Friday edition, we were speculating about how Harry Mitchell won this thing. 17-point registration advantage for Republicans in that district, you're running against a six-term incumbent, and fairly popular--

Harry Mitchell:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
--Congressman. Certainly controversial, but high profile.

Harry Mitchell:
High name ID, very high name ID.

Michael Grant:
Absolutely high name ID. What do you credit your victory to? What do you think were the key component parts to overcoming those kinds of odds?

Harry Mitchell:
Well, I think a couple. One, we had a very good campaign in place to target people. We had a lot of people walking door to door, we had lots of people on telephones, a lot of mail. And I just think the issues we were talking about, I think, resonated with the people in this district. I think a lot of times Congressman Hayworth was out of touch on some of these issues. I think we hit the issues we thought were important to the constituents of this district, and we continued to make individual contact. And that was important. We had, at the very end, in the last four or five days before the election, we had as many as 800 volunteers. And I was excited about that, because here we were making contact with voters, getting out the vote. Of course, we were targeting Democrats who hadn't voted very much before, and I think there was a general feeling also that there needed to be a change. People were tired of the way things were going in Washington, the way business was being conducted. I think a lot of people, which was probably true nationwide, thought a change was needed. I think that helped us in our campaign, as well.

Michael Grant:
There seemed to be a significant momentum shift, I would say in the last, say, three weeks of the campaign, perhaps partly attributable to the phenomenon you talked about, sort of a general backlash against Washington. You obviously were there and following the trends and those kinds of things. Was there that kind of shift, in the, let's call it early October time frame?

Harry Mitchell:
I think there was. We had made some progress throughout the campaign. Early on, Survey U.S.A. had us 12 points down, then they had us three points down, and then the last poll showed us two points ahead, still within the margin of error. But I think there was a major shift, and I don't know if there were more events happening nationally. But I think the fact that we continued, we spent a lot of time and a lot of money in the last couple weeks on TV, as well as mailers, and again, contacting voters in person. So we really put a big effort towards the very end. We didn't have a lot of money, but we thought the best time would be towards the end, and that's what we did.

Michael Grant:
Let's go to the orientation. You went back, jeez, almost immediately afterwards.

Harry Mitchell:
Right.

Michael Grant:
You've already mentioned it. That was, I would imagine, a pretty significant experience.

Harry Mitchell:
Oh, absolutely. It was - and I said, there were a couple of times I got kind of emotional, kind of choked up. One of them was standing on the steps of the capitol, taking our class picture. You know how all group pictures are; it takes a while to get everybody settled--

Michael Grant:
Sure.

Harry Mitchell:
--And there were so many people in the press out in the audience, or out beyond the rope, which I had never seen that many press people, for one. And then standing there, getting ready, I looked out and saw the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the office buildings, and that was very touching to think that here I was, and what I was doing. I have to admit --

Michael Grant:
Goose bumps for a government teacher?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it was, very much so. And I would say also, you know, in those kinds of times, my family was very important. And I thought about my mom and dad and the help that, when I first got started way back in the City Council races, the work my dad put into it. And my grandfather was in the State Legislature when I was a kid, and that's how I got interested in politics.

Michael Grant:
Oh, I didn't realize that.

Harry Mitchell:
He got me out of school. He lived a block away and he got me out of school and I'd spend the day with him at the legislature. And then I got old enough to drive. I was putting signs up. When he couldn't see to drive at night, so I would drive him to meetings, and that was my interest. So it was kind of a nice family memory.

Michael Grant:
Let's talk about some mechanical things. What committees have you put in for?

Harry Mitchell:
One I felt would be very important for this district, to serve the constituents of this district and the state, is the Energy and Commerce Committee. It's one of the Exclusive Committees, which means it's one of the top committees, it's an important one, because there's such a far-reaching arch of issues that come before them, and a lot of them fit this district because of our hospitality, and out tourism, and our transportation needs, our energy as a growing area, a lot of the issues that confront this area are handled by that committee, and that's the one I'm trying to get on.

Michael Grant:
When do you get word on that? Is that a process that takes another few weeks?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, it will. It will be in December. They haven't really named yet the committees which will be making recommendations and making some of the selections of those committee people. So it'll be a while.

Michael Grant:
Let's say we're sitting here in two years. For Harry Mitchell, are there certain most key two or three things, particularly with a focus on the 5th Congressional District, that you'd like to be sitting here in two years saying, okay, I got that accomplished and that accomplished?

Harry Mitchell:
Yeah. I think one of the most important issues in this campaign and everywhere is the issue of Illegal Immigration. I think that needs to be addressed right away. I think the new Congress is pretty much I believe in tune with the President on comprehensive reform for Illegal Immigration, I think that's one. Just the whole tenor of the way business is being conducted in Washington. On the agenda is an ethics reform, and just a new approach to doing business.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of new approaches, it has been suggested that an independent body should be set up, independent from Congress, to assess ethics violations. How do you feel about that?

Harry Mitchell:
I've heard that, and at first blush I think that may be a good idea. I'm not certain; I'd have to see the details of it. But somebody said it would operate somewhat like a grand jury. If there's enough evidence, then you bring it to the Ethics Committee. And the very fact that during the last Congress, some people were trying to play "change the rules" a little bit for people who were charged with ethics violations. I think this would certainly not be a bad idea.

Michael Grant:
If you subscribe to the theory that Americans feel something is going dysfunctionally wrong there, seems to me there is an argument to be made that you do something different than just, if you'll pardon the expression, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Harry Mitchell:
Right. I think you're right. When I first read that, I said, "Well, that intriguing, why not?" What we've had before hasn't really worked, as you say. So I think it would be very worthwhile.

Michael Grant:
On the immigration side, the general feeling is that if Congress doesn't get something done on that before the presidential election cycle starts -- and I'm not sure that isn't like yesterday
Harry Mitchell: It's only started

Michael Grant:
-- But in general, if Congress doesn't get something done on that by summer, it's going to be dead for the next two years. Do you subscribe to that?

Harry Mitchell:
Well, I don't know. I don't know how the process is going to go. And all the things that are in place for that, I don't know. But I really believe it's got to be addressed right away. It's just -- I think it's a crime to see the need for this, and not be able to address that need. And when I say the need for it, when you look, Maricopa County has 3\% unemployment rate, and the state has 3.6, there's a need for workers--

Michael Grant: Right

Harry Mitchell:
--And there are workers that want jobs. We've got to find a way to allow this to happen.

Michael Grant:
So obviously, a supporter of the Guest Worker Program. What about increased sanctions for employers who knowingly hire?

Harry Mitchell:
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. If you're going to have a decent Guest Worker Program, people have to fall within the bounds of that, and play by the rules. And those who want to go around it, once we've even established a Guest Worker Program, certainly have to be held accountable, and absolutely, you have to toughen it.

Michael Grant:
The toughest issue is, whatever you want to label it, a pathway to citizenship for those who are here, no pathway to citizenship, what's your position?

Harry Mitchell:
I think I agree with McCain's bill that there's got to be a pathway, and there's got to be some steps in place to allow this to happen. Everything from having a police background check, to having a job, to being here for a number of years, to learn English, pay a fine, pay a fee for -- to be -- start the process -- there's a whole number of series which I think are reasonable. I think we ought to be looking at those.

Michael Grant:
No concern at all, though, despite the hurdles you place there, you're basically saying to the next generation, that's OK, you know, if you get over here, we'll cut you some slack when you get here? That you're sending the wrong signal?

Harry Mitchell:
But I think the real issue is, that the reason you're illegal is because of our immigration program. If we have a Guest Worker Program, and people can come back and forth, and they come here to work, and the program sends them back afterwards, I don't think you'll find people over here wanting to work, and then trying to hide and stay here. We've got to have a system where people who come here to work, we keep track of them. Part of our problem, half the illegal immigrants that are here now, are here because they overstayed their visas. Even though we allow people in here, we don't have a good way to keep track of them. That's got to be part of the program.

Michael Grant:
Congressman-elect Harry Mitchell, thank you very much for joining us.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Congratulations.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
When the 48th Legislative Session convenes in January, there will be just few differences from last session. How the dynamics will play out will be a discussion I'll be having with a couple of legislative leaders. But first, here's a look at some of the changes.

Larry Lemmons:
Republicans remain the majority in both houses of the Legislature, but Democrats picked up a total of seven seats, six in the House and one in the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans lead 17-13, in the House, they lead 33-27. Leadership has changed in most positions. In the Senate, Tim Bee succeeds Ken Bennett as Senate President. Thayer Verschoor is Majority Leader, and the Majority Whip is John Huppenthal. On the Democratic Side, Marsha Arzberger is Minority Leader. Jorge Luis Garcia is the Assistant Minority Leader, and Rebecca Rios is Whip. In the House, Jim Weiers remains the Speaker of the House. Tom Boone is Majority Leader, and Majority Whip is John McComich. Phil lopes remains the House Minority Leader. Jack Brown is Assistant Minority Leader, and the Democrats' Whip is Steve Gallardo.

Michael Grant:
Joining me now to discuss how these changes could affect the relationship between the legislative branches and, for that matter, the Executive Branch, is the Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, and new grandfather, House Minority Leader Phil Lopes.

Michael Grant:
I just found out you're a new grandfather.

Phil Lopes:
That's correct.

Michael Grant:
Congratulations. Gentlemen, good to see you. Pretty significant -- let me start on the House side, because that was a pretty significant sea change for Democrats. You picked up six seats, Republicans still control the majority, but it's 33 to 27.

Phil Lopes:
Correct.

Michael Grant:
How much does that change the dynamics over there?

Phil Lopes:
It remains to be seen in actuality, but in theory, it changes it considerably. Because for the -- Obviously, we only need three votes to get the 30 to stop stuff. We need 31 votes to do stuff. So getting from 27 to 30 or 27 to 31 is much easier than getting from 21, which is where we were last session, to 31. So theoretically, we should do better in stopping what we consider bad stuff, and promoting what we consider good stuff.

Michael Grant:
You know, I have observed, though, from time to time over the years, that sometimes when the Majority Party -- and of course, in this state, in recent history, that's normally been the Republicans --

Phil Lopes:
Since statehood, right? Just kidding. [laughter]

Michael Grant:
-- Has too many votes to spare. I have, at times, seen a smaller caucus hanging together rather than hanging separately, and it being a more manageable task than if you've got a 38 or a 39, and somebody says, well, you don't need my vote, and you don't need my vote. Any of that involved?

Phil Lopes:
That could well be. Again, in theory, that could well be. But I think what's one of the dynamics that's going to change as a result of these numbers is that the extremes on the political spectrum will have less influence. I think you'll see that. So if that in fact happens, then I'm not sure even in theory, whether those numbers work out, as you say, if we're essentially moving to the middle of the road because we have to in order to get the numbers to add up.

Michael Grant:
Well, let's go over to the Senate side of this equation. Obviously not the same kind of sea change in terms of numbers, 17-13 for the Republicans, instead of 18-12. Does that change the dynamic significantly?

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, I don't know that it does change the dynamic that significantly in the senate, Michael. I mean, I think what's going to be the difference is, obviously, the leadership, and I think one of the things that we recognize is that, you know, that they did rather well in both the House and the Governor's race. And so, we're going to have that to deal with. I think it presents us with some great opportunities.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of leadership, let's go to leadership staff, President-Elect Tim Bee, canning all senior staff.

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, I don't like to think of it that way. [Laughter]

Michael Grant:
I think those guys might be thinking of it that way.

Thayer Verschoor:
I think -- and I support the President Bee's decision there. You know, what he's looking for is some fresh ideas, some innovation. It's time to, you know -- He has a direction he wants to see us going in there, in the Senate, and he wants to bring people in that he believes can see that vision.

Michael Grant:
Is this a case of senior staff getting out of touch with the Senators that they're supposed to serve, or at least some of them?

Thayer Verschoor:
You know, I don't know that it's that. I think mostly what it is, you know, I think the President Bee felt it was time for a change, that, you know, we've been -- sometimes you kind of get stuck in just doing things the way you've been doing it, because that's the way you've always done it. And I think he believes that, you know, that people are looking to us in the Senate, as leadership here in the State, to be innovative and forward-thinking, and be progressive, and I think that's kind of direction he wants to head in.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to the Loyal Opposition over here to start this round of questioning.

Michael Grant:
Governor Janet Napolitano thought she got a real mandate. You could look at here 30-point victory and perhaps reach that conclusion. Does that make Democrats' influence in the legislature maybe stronger than it ordinarily would have, even given your numbers of gains, just simply because you've got a governor that won by that wide a margin?

Phil Lopes:
Yes, no question, no question. And people have won with a lot fewer percentage points and called it a mandate, so I think it's easy to call this a mandate. But yes, I mean, we've been -- even with the numbers we had before, with the Governor's leadership, we were able to do some things that we wouldn't be able to do if she hadn't been sitting in the chair. So having her major win, having our increased numbers, we think, for example, that when agency people come in before committees, they're not going to be treated quite the same way as they have been in the past, because of her mandate, and because of our numbers. I think that's one of the dynamics that will change. Agency people and agency lobbyists will get treated differently.

Michael Grant:
Senator, what's your take on that? It does seem to me that the Governor has a pretty strong argument that the people of Arizona sent her back with a resounding victory. Does she pick up more clout in this process?

Thayer Verschoor:
Well, you know, Michael, and I -- there's no doubt that she had that large victory, and I think that's part of the things we have to recognize. And I think, you know, to say she has a mandate, you know what, when I look at her campaign commercials and see what she ran on, she says, I eliminated the deficit, I maxed out the rainy day fund, I gave you a $500 million tax cut -- when we look at those thing she ran on, I'm the only governor to put the National Guard on the border. Hey, if that's the mandate, I can support that mandate. And I think we might even come back and look at some more of those issues, tax cuts again for the future and this session, and more issues dealing with immigration. I think those are things we'll talk about.

Michael Grant:
Let me move to issues. Does the Senate have an agenda at this point in time? Are there certain key pieces of legislation?

Thayer Verschoor:
I think we're working on it. Some of the stuff, obviously, that's going to be important is transportation, and I think that's an issue we'll agree on both sides of the aisle with the Governor's Office. We'll put more into our transportation infrastructure, into freeway acceleration.

Michael Grant:
More one-time infusions? Similar to what happened -- Is the money there?

Thayer Verschoor:
If we have that, we're going to look at that. We haven't got the figures in on that, but it looks like there's going to be some funding available. The immigration, some of the immigration issues, some of the stuff the Governor said she supported, employer sanctions, toughening those up, I think those are some things we'll be looking at that, as well as furthering the Prop 200 stuff that we saw pass so overwhelmingly on the ballot. If you look at some of the things that passed on the ballot. Those, again, were good Conservative things. 207, private property rights, all the immigration bills passed at the 70 percentile plus.

Michael Grant:
Representative Lopes, it was kind of a mixed message that voters were sending. All four of the immigration propositions cleared overwhelmingly, in the two Congressional Districts where maybe they played most heavily, the result was different. Do Democrats have to look differently at some of these immigration proposals, in light of what happened at the ballot box?

Phil Lopes:
I don't think so, because we have always taken the position, for example, that employer sanctions needed to happen. But they need to happen in a way that does not run the risk of destroying our economy. So that's not a change for us. Does it -- do -- does the vote on the Proposition mean that we now would support not allowing undocumented people into a class to learn English? Absolutely not. We want people to learn English. That Proposition passed. So my point is that you can pick and choose, and we will do that.

Michael Grant:
Representative Phil Lopes, thank you very much for joining us. Senator Thayer Verschoor, good to see you. Gentlemen, best of luck.

Thayer Verschoor:
Thank you.

Phil Lopes:
Thank you.

Announcer:
An Arizona law aimed at cracking down on Human Smugglers is at the center of a class action lawsuit in Phoenix. Plus, a look at a very unique report entitled "Arizona Ideas." The report examines policy ideas rather than problems. Tuesday on "Horizon".

Michael Grant:
Wednesday, we'll take a look at the Phoenix Art Museum expansion, and Thursday, the Cactus League is undergoing a change, Glendale is the winner. Thanks for being here on Monday, I'm Michael Grant. Have a great night. Good night.

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