Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 28, 2007


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists' Year in Review


  • Each year, three local journalists' make predictions about major news events for the upcoming year, review their predictions for the previous year. Mark Flatten of the Tribune, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services and Doug MacEachern of the Arizona Republic have better records than most T.V. psychics. Find out how they did.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Welcome to a special edition of Horizon, the journalists' year in review. Tonight, find out how our local journalists did on their predictions for 2007, and see what they will predict regarding big news events in 2008. That's next, on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the contributions of the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Good evening, I'm Ted Simons and this is the annual journalists' roundtable prediction show. Joining me to preview 2008 is Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Mark Flatten of "The East Valley Tribune" and Doug Maceachern of "The Arizona Republic."

Ted Simons:
Before we look ahead to the coming year, let's go back and see how our panel did in predicting what would happen in 2007. Producer Steve Clawson has the recap.

Steve Clawson:
Entering 2007, our esteemed panel was coming off an impressive performance from the previous year so. Let's see how they did in predicting the past 12 months. One of the things they looked at is the 2008 presidential race and potential surprises in the candidate lineup.

Howard Fischer:
I think in the end Mitt Romney is going to look around and say that he cannot get the backing that he needs.

Mark Flatten:
I don't think Barack Obama is going to run. I think Howie is right. He's going to get his name out there, get the publicity, the talk, the chatter.

Doug Maceachern:
I think that you're hitting a little bit more rumbling about Bill Richardson. I think he will officially drop out sometime before this time next year.

Steve Clawson:
Our panel was also asked specifically what month Senator John McCain would announce his run for president.

Mark Flatten:
I would say March. There's a lot of pressure for candidates to get in early this time.

Doug Maceachern:
Mark, I agree with everything you said, only I think that you don't -- you haven't got the ball rolling fast enough. I think he'll do it in February.

Howard Fischer:
Actually, I'm going to play contrarian on this, figuring that McCain is having no problem at all raising money through his "nonpartisan pac" so I think he'll hold off until June or July.

Steve Clawson:
He officially started his campaign in late April. However, on February 28th McCain announced on the David Letterman show if he was running for president.

John McCain:
You asked me if I would come back on the show if I was going to announce.

David Letterman:
Yes.

John McCain:
I am announcing I will be a candidate for president of the United States. [cheers]

Steve Clawson:
While there's no shortage of people running for president, attention turned to person who currently occupies the oval office. Our panel was asked for President Bush's approval rating would ever break the 50\% level in 2007.

Mark Flatten:
I don't think he's ever going to -- certainly not next year I don't think he'll cross that 50\% threshold.

Doug Maceachern:
No. It will not.

Howard Fischer:
I think maybe he gets up to 43 and that's it.

Steve Clawson:
President Bush's approval rating never even came close to 50\% in 2007. A review of 140 polls taken during the year showed the president's approval rating hovered in the 30's for most of the year. Only one time did he crack the 40\% barrier in one poll taken in early January. On the local front, Mayor Phil Gordon was up for re-election in 2007. Our panel was asked if he would face any serious challenger.

Mark Flatten:
Nobody serious.

Doug Maceachern:
I think Randy Pullen will make noises that he's going to run.

Howard Fischer:
Randy has been building a lot of name for himself. Obviously his successes in terms of the immigration stuff that will be hot issue button.

Steve Clawson:
In the end the only challenger was Steve Laurie. Mayor Phil Gordon easily won re-election with nearly 70\% of the vote in September's election. Randy Pullen's name came up in regard to another position, whether he would become the new chairman of the Arizona Republican party.

Doug Maceachern:
I think that Randy Pullen may be the next state party chair for the republicans.

Mark Flatten:
I'm going to say no. He's not a fan of John McCain and John McCain is going to pull out every stop he can possibly pull out to make sure the state republican party chairman is his guy.

Howard Fischer:
Randy made it clear. He said I'm not a McCainiac.

Steve Clawson:
Randy Pullen was elected chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. With an eye toward Washington our panel was asked if Congress would finally pass some type of comprehensive immigration reform.

Doug Maceachern:
I would think that this not being an election year for them, that this would be the optimum time for them to do that. I think, however, that the head-butting in Congress over that and so many other issues is just going to bring it to a stalemate.

Howard Fischer:
I think it's possible. I'm going to disagree with Doug and say they will pass something, it will have some element of slightly expanded guest worker program.

Mark Flatten:
I don't think you're going to see the kind of comprehensive package that Bush, McCain, flake and that crowd are looking for.

Steve Clawson:
The comprehensive immigration reform act of 2007 was introduced May 9. By late June it had gone down in flames. One of the highlights of the show are the long shot and sure thing predictions.

Mark Flatten:
The Cardinals will not be playing the inaugural Super Bowl in Phoenix stadium? Is that what it's called?

Group:
University of Phoenix Stadium.

Mark Flatten:
Long shot? Howie…in that chair.

Howard Fischer:
That scares a lot out of me. My sure shot, legislature will come up with more freeway money despite the fact the budget is tight. My long shot is that Gannett will be forced to sell either the Republic or Channel 12.

Doug Maceachern:
My thing is the legislative republicans will find some money however small to give back to taxpayers in some sort of either rebate or tax cut. And long shot, the Arizona cardinals this time next year, a wining record.

Steve Clawson:
There was also a business-related question in last year's show. Michael grant decided to play the role of Howie Mandel, only with hair.

Michael Grant:
In a cheap rating knockoff here we're introducing a new segment, deal or no deal. So Doug Maceachern, I ask you, U.S. Airways-Delta merger. Deal or no deal?

Doug Maceachern:
I say no deal, Howie.

Howard Fischer:
I think it's a no deal. I think that creditors are going to say that they've got a much better chance of emerging as a full-blown airline.

Mark Flatten:
I say no deal.

Steve Clawson:
On January 31st,'s airways withdrew its offer to buy Delta. Now it's time to find out who did the best job in predicting 2007. There were a total of 10 points available. In the spirit of deal or no deal, let's go to the briefcases. In this briefcase we find mark flatten with 1/2 points. In this briefcase there's Howie Fischer also with 6 1/2 points. In this briefcase there's this year's champion, Doug Maceachern, with 7 1/2 points.

Ted Simons:
And we would congratulate Doug but I wasn't looking at the briefcases to be quite honest with you on that last shot. But you got a juggernaut going here, mister.

Doug Maceachern:
I just can't get over it. I think I've come in first every single year the past four years.

Howard Fischer:
We'll have to do something about that. The really amazing thing about all of this, of course, is that when the high person wins with a C, you know, sort of a gentleman's C awe law our president, people keep watching this show year after year thinking we have what -- know what the heck we're talking about.

Ted Simons:
Well let's get it going, get it started. Champion, big deal. King is dead. Long live the king. Let's start with the presidential election. Mark, let's start with you. Who will win the republican and democratic nominations?

Mark Flatten:
I'm going to go with the conventional wisdom. I think what we're seeing now is a little bit of rattling and rumbling. It's going to settle down. I think it will be Giuliani on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton on the Democrat side.

Ted Simons:
Any fireworks between now and then?

Mark Flatten:
I think so. I think Obama will give Hillary a run for her money. I think what you're going to see in the Republican primary is that sort of quasi top tier start fading, particularly after the first couple of primaries.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
It's been such an unusual year so far. I'm going to run with the theme. I'm going to -- I think Hillary is proving herself brittle. And I don't know if she's going to make it to the finish line. I'm going to say Obama gets the nomination among the democrats. And I'm going to go out on a limb, too, with the republicans. I think when it all sorts out, McCain is going to have a shot. I'll stick with him.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. Howie.

Howard Fischer:
I'm going to side with Mark here in terms of Giuliani because I think McCain will fall by the wayside. We had prediction about when he got in the race, we'll have predictions about when he falls out of the race. I think Clinton is going to be hard to unseat. I think Obama has the star power but that fades. The one sort of wow-cardness is the Mike Huckabee factor because of the fact that all of a sudden a lot of folks have decided he's a nice guy, he's sort of a slow, steady plodder, and he would be the one guy who actually could knock out Giuliani.

Ted Simons:
All right. Let's get to the primary here in Arizona. Again, presidential primary both parties. Who wins?

Howard Fischer:
I think it's going to be the same thing. I think it will be Giuliani and Clinton.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
I think McCain and Clinton here in Arizona.

Mark Flatten:
I would think -- I think it's going to be Clinton on the democratic side, largely because Bill Clinton is very much loved by the democrats here. The republicans side here I think will be Romney. He spent a lot of time, a lot of money. He's really looking for Arizona as sort of the way out west.

Ted Simons:
So you're seeing McCain kind of going like this, Romney maybe leveling out.

Mark Flatten:
I don't think McCain is going to win Arizona. I think he burned too many bridges on immigration reform. And a republican primary, you know, he really did alienate the base on that one.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. All right. Third-party candidates. Anyone popping up? A Bloomberg, somebody else? You see anything like that?

Mark Flatten:
There will be any number of third-party candidates. Combined they might get 2\% of the vote. I don't think it's going to matter.

Ted Simons:
No one of consequence. Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
I think there's a possibility that Ron Paul will jump ship and run as a libertarian. He may be motivated -- he's got money. He may be motivate today continue.

Ted Simons:
Guerilla signage he's obvious lit winner. Does he have enough to make any kind of impact?

Doug Maceachern:
No. Except as a third-party candidate.

Mark Flatten:
He's the Howard Dean of the republican party at this point. He's going to get a lot of attention, he'll get a lot of money but he's not going to go anywhere. He might even go he ha.

Howard Fischer:
I hadn't thought about Ron Paul but I sort of like that idea, Doug. The fact he figures here's a chance to sort of spread the libertarian word. He knows he's not going to win. Why not? I'll go with Ron Paul as picking up a few percentage points.

Mark Flatten:
You're just kissing up to Doug because he won.

Ted Simons:
Yeah. What's your point. All right, Howie, who will be the next president of these United States?

Howard Fischer:
Oh, you no, having made the prediction of who the nominees are going to be, ill think assuming it ends up as a Giuliani-Clinton race, I think it's going to be Clinton. I think that Giuliani, you know, will flame out somewhere in there. I think that Hillary will be the next president.

Ted Simons:
Big win?

Howard Fischer:
Oh, no. Oh, no.

Ted Simons:
Very close.

Howard Fischer:
This is going to be one where the old people in florida are trying to figure out which of the chads they punch.

Ted Simons:
The return of the hanging Chad. Doug? The winner.

Doug Maceachern:
Well, Hillary I would think would do well in the general election. Nonetheless, honestly, I think Obama will be the next president.

Ted Simons:
Really?

Doug Maceachern:
Yes.

Ted Simons:
So instead of electing the first woman president, the first African-American president.

Doug Maceachern:
I'm throwing that out. Yes.

Ted Simons:
All right. That's a bold prediction.

Mark Flatten:
It is.

Ted Simons:
That's awfully bold.

Mark Flatten:
I'm not going to go that far. I think Giuliani will win. Because I think once we get down to the two nominees, the Clinton fatigue will set in again. It's like the old divorced couple that used to fight every day, get divorced and they get together on the holidays. But you know, once we start getting back into that mode I think people are going to start having some memories of the old days.

Howard Fischer:
I love the divorce analogy here of how many divorces do you need to be president. And whether Giuliani with on his third, maybe his fourth by the time November works around.

Mark Flatten:
It could be. The thing I think that Giuliani will have going for him is, Hillary Clinton is a fairly divisive figure. People like her or they dislike her. Giuliani, I don't think, evokes that strong love-hate relationship. But the big thing I think he will have going for him in a general is the exact difficulties he's having in the primary is he's got a lot of positions that will appeal to moderate, independents, even a lot of democrats. He's not sort of a hard-core right wing republican although he's trying to be in the primary.

Howard Fischer:
And that becomes the problem in the sense that republicans need that Christian right to give him the three, four, five percentage points they need to get him over the top. Christian rights look at Clinton and Giuliani and they stay home.

Mark Flatten:
They stay home. But the question is does that three or four percent get made up from the moderate and independents? Giuliani is acceptable to the right to the choice crowd.

Howard Fischer:
By all sides.

Mark Flatten:
In the one hand he has taken a big sort of flip-flop -- one of his many flip-flops is on the immigration issue. And republican or democrat he's taken a winning position on it.

Ted Simons:
Let's throw in another question here, addendum here. Bigger issue come the November vote, the war or immigration.

Mark Flatten:
I think it's going to be the immigration issue. Because the war is, you know, is what it is. I think that was sort of hashed out along dividing lines in the last election. I think immigration will be the big volatile issue.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
I think it will be a close call. Immigration in terms of ranking of issues that people care about, actually tend to rank pretty low, especially as compared to the war which is either first or second compared to the economy. I think there'll be some leavening. I think the war will continue to be high on people's agendas than immigration but not by much.

Howard Fischer:
First of all, I don't know how you score this in terms of what's on people's mind. I think immigration is the hotter issue. Without a draft, without people having a lot of involvement, short of us having 10,000 dead by next November, I think immigration will be a hotter issue. People see it. When you've got people in Iowa and New Hampshire not southwest border states talking about immigration. That's a hot issue.

Doug Maceachern:
I think as long as we have troops overseas, Howie, I think that's going to remain higher on people's care about list than -- anything but economy.

Mark Flatten:
The question is, what is the state of the war going to be? Whether it be longevity or political reality or whatever, I see in the coming year us starting to sort of back out of that a little bit and casualty -- and top priority on minimizing.

Howard Fischer:
That becomes the issue, assuming McCain, the war president is the not the nom northeast. Everyone else has the same sort of position, democrats saying maybe we can't get out in the first term. That's why I don't think the war is going to be that much issue because you won't find that much difference between the candidates.

Ted Simons:
Alright, let's get closer to home. Congressional district 1, Rick Renzi's seat. Howie, republican side, democrat side, who's going to run?

Howard Fischer:
I think that among the various Republicans who are sitting there saying, thank you, Rick, for getting out of our way here, it's going to be a close one between Bill Kopernicke and Ken Bennett. Obviously a lot of presence in Prescott. Kopernicke being from Safford doesn't have quite the center. So I give Bennett the edge on the issue there assuming he really does get involved. Democratic side, former state rep Ann Kirkpatrick. Good name ID be there. I think ultimately the democrat edges out the republican in the general.

Ted Simons:
Doug,what do you think as far as candidates are concerned?

Doug Maceachern:
I think Bennett probably is a likely R in that race. He's got great positioning in the real population -- one of the biggest population centers in the district, up in Prescott. And as far as a democrat, that's a real puzzle to me. I guess I'm just going to have to punt and go with Howie on this one. Richardson I think.

Mark Flatten:
Go with Howie on the people, too. I think Bennett will probably pull out the republican primary, and I do think the democrats are going to pick up that seat. It's going to be a tough year for republicans running for congress in general. I think Renzi has sort of poisoned the well for a lot of moderate republicans up there just because he's had so many problems up there. And I just see that seat going democratic.

Ted Simons:
What do you think, Doug? Democratic candidate with the recent skids in there with Renzi?

Doug Maceachern:
A great shot for them.

Ted Simons:
Howie? You?

Howard Fischer:
Yes.

Ted Simons:
All right. Russell Pearce. Think he's going to challenge Flake?

Mark Flatten:
I think he'll challenge flake and I think he will give a very, very, very serious challenge to flake. He may even unseat him. I wouldn't guess that he will. But the thing Pearce has going for him is -- Flake's biggest weakness is on the immigration issue. Take that off the table which is also Pearce's strongest issue. Take immigration off the table, what's Flake going to stay in Pearce is a big spending liberal I don't think so.

Howard Fischer:
If he's not going to be talking to the legislature like certain people did when Harry Mitchell was running for congress and Gabby Giffords, you can't raise money. Because when you're in congress in the legislature you can't take money from lobbyists. That makes it real hard. The same thing Jim bee will face. Can you get the money together? Russell has the advantage in the east valley of having a fairly high name ID. if in fact we talked at here that immigration is the number one issue on people's mind, you know, you get -- look, people pick up the newspaper, see illegal immigrant runs into trolley, you can't buy publicity like that. I think Russell is going to take him on and defeat him.

Ted Simons:
You think so? Bold. Bold. Doug.

Doug Maceachern:
That is bold. I don't think he's going to defeat him. I think that's a great call, but I think you're wrong. I think that it will be a tough race. I think, yes, he will challenge him. But the big question Mark is whether or not flake can run an incumbency race, which is much different from when he won it and he hasn't had a really tough one since. I think he's got it in him to rise to the challenge. And I think he'll pull it out. It will be tight.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. All right. C.d. 6 to c.d. 5. Harry Mitchell. Who's going to run against him?

Mark Flatten:
I don't know. I don't know it's going to matter. I think Mitchell is strong in that seat. I don't think a republican is going to knock him out even though that's traditionally been republican. Mitchell's popularity in that district transcends r and d. He was mayor of Tempe for however many years, 20 years. He was a high school teacher in Tempe. He was my high school government teacher. If you grew up in Tempe you know Harry Mitchell. I don't think the republicans will be able to knock him out.

Ted Simons:
What do you think, Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
Harry has far exceeded just about everyone's expectations for how he would do in this office, how he would walk that fine line in a border line district. I don't know who would challenge him. Whoever that person, is they will not be successful.

Howard Fischer:
Ditto, to use a Rush Limbaugh line.

Ted Simons:
Wow! So Harry should have really no trouble, then?

Mark Flatten:
I don't know that he will have no trouble. I think there'll probably be a credible republican. But that is just a tough -- he is a tough person to beat.

Howard Fischer:
That also goes to the issue of the national republican party. Where do they put their money into? I don't think this is the race. I think they put it into district 1 where it's an open seat. Whether they put their money behind Tim Bee in district 8 is the other question, where they figure that Gabby being a first-term person. Gabby doesn't have the same name ID and persona of Harry Mitchell does in Tempe.

Ted Simons:
To the state house. Legislature will be in session how many days, Howie?

Howard Fischer:
Okay. We've got the budget. I'd say 142.

Ted Simons:
I like it. Doug, what do you think?

Doug Maceachern:
You know, I'm going to exceed that. I think it is going to be one of the toughest ones they face. I'm going to say 151.

Mark Flatten:
Numerically I have no idea. But with all the budget problems they've got and an election year, I think they will be in there as of the third week in June.

Ted Simons:
Okay. How about it? Above or below? We've got to get a number.

Howard Fischer:
Look at the calendar.

Ted Simons:
We'll do the math. Making it difficult on me. Thank you very much. All right. The split. Republican-democrat split.

Mark Flatten:
I think Democrats will pick up a couple of seats, probably in the house. I don't know that they're going to gain control of either chamber.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
I think it could be even in the senate. I'm going to go with republicans retaining the senate by one and retaining a fairly reasonable in the house.

Howard Fischer:
I'm going to go the other way. I think the republicans will maintain control because I think the democrats may lose a seat actually in the senate, perhaps the district that Charlene [indiscernible] is in. Of course that depends on whether the republicans do something stupid like naming some right wing whacko to run against her. I think they may lose a seat or two in the house. Right now they're 27 out of 60. They could be down to 25.

Ted Simons:
All right. Let's get to the most exciting part of the program, the long shot and sure shot predictions, which are always fun to look back at and laugh over. Howie, long shot, sure shot.

Howard Fischer:
Well, my long shot is going to be that there will not be a transit vote on the ballot in '08 as much as people are trying to push this. Marty Schultz is trying to get more highway money maybe a sales tax. I think -- I don't think it will go. I think there won't be a legislative consensus since they won't true to do this by initiative. Sure shot, I'll throw two out there. Number one, the governor is not going to get a license with radio frequency identifier chip. The legislature will never approve it. And number two, that big green thing in the lobby next year will not be called a Christmas tree by the governor.

Ted Simons:
Still a holiday tree?

Howard Fischer:
Still a holiday tree…a seasonal tree along with the seasonal candelabra.

Mark Flatten:
Do I get credit if I do a sure shot that Howie which will do the same story again?

Ted Simons:
No, that's prohibited. It's off the boards.

Doug Maceachern:
My long shot is that Obama picks Hillary as his running mate is my long shot.

Ted Simons:
Whoa!

Doug Maceachern:
Or I got to add this. Or vice versa. So I get it both ways.

Doug Maceachern:
My sure thing, I believe that the Hollywood writers strike will be over before the Super Bowl.

Ted Simons:
All right. Mark?

Mark Flatten:
My long shot is that one of the top-tier presidential candidates will drop out of the race by the Arizona primary. That's a long shot. My sure shot is that there will be no significant tax increases at the state level. The governor is almost out of her time in office, and she's not going to sign a tax increase before she has to leave.

Ted Simons:
All right. We have literally have like 20 second. Yes or no answer, will we be riding the trolley to work at this time next year?

Howard Fischer:
Only if you want to go from 48th street to 44th street.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug Maceachern:
I say no. I bet not.

Mark Flatten:
Guarantee we will not be riding.

Ted Simons:
It will be there but you won't be on it, huh? All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. Good luck. May the best man win. Perhaps win again as the case may be. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us on this special edition of Horizon. You have a great evening.

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