Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 4, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Local reporters review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mary Jo Pitzl - Arizona Republic
  • Mary K Reinhart - Arizona Guardian
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript

Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," we'll discuss Governor Brewer's visit with President Obama over border issues. John Munger drops out of the governor's race. We'll discuss why, and medical marijuana makes it on the November ballot. That's next on "Horizon."

Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Mary Jo Pitzl of "The Arizona Republic," Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal," and Mary K. Reinhart of the "Arizona Guardian." The governor had a face to face with the president this week to discuss Arizona's immigration problem. Governor says it was a successful meeting. What does that mean?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Well, I thought she said it was a cordial meeting which is tempered language to say we talked at each other and maybe didn't have a whole lot of agreement. But it was successful she believes because the president said we are sending troops to the border and she believes the majority of them will be sent to the Arizona border.

Ted Simons:
What do you think it meant?

Mike Sunnucks:
Politically, I think it was a big win for the sitdown with the president. There was a picture with her and Obama in the oval office. She can claim during the campaign, hey, I forced action out of the administration. Whether how accurate it is doesn't really matter. Her signing the bill kind of propelled the issue. He responded to the uproar by dedicating the troops and now she gets to go there. The Attorney General of the state didn't go there. Janet Napolitano didn't do that when she was governor. She got to say look, here I am. I'm forcing the hand of the feds. I think everybody agrees the feds haven't done enough in the years.

Mary K. Reinhart:
Yeah anytime to have a sitdown in the oval office and go down to a phalanx of national reporters is successful for any politician. She sent out a more sharply worded statement from her campaign. It said, He said he didn't do this, he didn't do that. Basically sort of the same old song about ignoring the problem and reissuing an invitation, I think for the president to come down to the border and see for himself how bad things are in her words at the border. No word yet on whether he's going to take her invitation.



Mary Jo Pitzl:
The fact she got in for the audience of the president. Initially when she sought that, she was told Obama's schedule was booked, no time. They found time for the governor. That shows how white hot this issue is nationally and she was the one to push open the door to get in.

Mike Sunnucks:
If you think before she signed this she didn't have stature on this issue. It was Arpaio, senators out of Colorado. She didn't have any stature and now she's the flag waver, kind of leading the charge. I don't think she cared about the immigration before her political career and now she's the leader.

Mary K. Reinhart:
You're beginning to see a little bit of pushback of all of this talk of open borders and want reckless, crazy, gun-toting crazies on the border. Some of the local business officials down on the border and local law enforcement officials are saying, wait a minute, Phoenix. Stop talking about that. It's really not that bad. We're losing business. Everybody is running scared. The crime statistics show that crime is actually down along the border. There's kind of a disconnect between some of the things she's saying and what folks on the ground down there are actually saying.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
So you mean in a way they're creating their own, the advocates of the creation of reform are creating their own boycott of Arizona business?

Mary K. Reinhart:
Well in a sense, painting this picture of the border as this sort of lawless place when I think folks down there are saying it's not quite so.

Ted Simons:
I know the "Business Journal" has reported on this specifically where businesses in Phoenix and near the border reported that it's not good for business.

Mike Sunnucks:
Well yeah, Gpac, Thunderbird, the high-tech companies are worried about that. They want people to move here and locate businesses here. When you send that message out, like you guys said, it makes us seem like we're Juarez or Tijuana like there's violence over here. They're concerned about that. We don't have the most high wage of jobs here. They want to attract people here and If somebody thinks that will , they're crazy about that. The reality of it is that there are a lot of drugs going through here. We're the conduit for it. We're not like the 80s Miami or L.A. or Baltimore where there was a lot of drug violence on the streets. There are drugs coming through here and I think they're concerned. She said the day before the Obama thing, we're overrun by cartels. Someone who’s never been here will think we’re like Mexico then.
Mary Jo Pitzl:
Here is something that hadn't occurred to me, but I was talking to Senator Bob Burns about state budget issues. He says who knows, that Arizona is portrayed as the bad boy of the universe, what that will do to investor confidence. Arizona needs to borrow money for the state budget, but there's also the outside investor or private sector.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think private businesses and tourism folks are as worried about that as we're portrayed as racist or anti-hispanic. They look at the polls. They're really worried about the image thing because it makes us look like things are really out of control.

Mary K. Reinhart:
Just to come full circle back to the law that got this started. There's really nothing in the law that addresses drug smuggling and human smuggling. Proponents have said it's really not going to do anything to reduce that.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the argument to make on that is if they question somebody and he's a smuggler, that's the way to open the door. That's like what they did in New York under Giuliani, you get them on something minor and then hey look they’ve done all these other bad things.

Ted Simons:
We're going to have a couple more rally at the state capitol, pro 1070 rallies. What do you know about what we had last weekend and what we're looking forward to in the next couple of weekends? I keep hearing a lot of out-of-state folks are putting these on on both sides. Are these making a difference? What's going on here?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think to put on Mike's point that it adds to national perception, that Arizona is this hot bed that is portrayed as a racist state or biased state, especially from those folks who are here to oppose the law, it puts more of not a flattering spotlight on Arizona. Indeed, these groups are coming. Last week I was leaving the gym, last Saturday and I saw kids with T-shirts that said one Arizona, that’s the side that doesn’t like the bill. They told me they took a 36-hour bus ride from Washington down here to melt in the heat and march.

Mary K. Reinhart:
I was talking about somebody who was marching since the 60s about this. I said, what is the point of bringing all of these people together, pro and con? What do we get? Is there common ground? No, we're not trying to get common ground. He said it makes sense to show the strength of your position by numbers, this is how many people care and also rally the troops. It gets the agenda out, people excited and committed and new people to come in and commit to the cause. It's about the cause on either side and about showing your strength in numbers.

Mike Sunnucks:
I agree. I think it's a lot of out-of-state folks. The labor unions are trying to use this as an organizing thing with service workers. The tea party folks came in from Texas with that Tempe thing. You have the cottage industry, the professional folks who try to fund raise. It reminds me of the abortion debate. It's so polarized. No one is coming together, and you have groups coming in to raise money.

Ted Simons:
What about the idea though that you have these rallies and marches and they're gathering the base and energizing the base, what does that do as far as elections are concerned? Is either side being energized to the point where it's starting to get an edge, they're starting to be in a place they've seen otherwise?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think we have yet to see that. One thing I'm looking for is Hispanic voter registration. What matters, at least as far as Arizona is concerned, what this might do for Arizona elections. Who people vote into office this fall. Historically the Hispanic vote has been talked about a lot but doesn't materialize much. This might be a test that this is an issue that puts people registering and showing up and voting.

Mike Sunnucks:
From a Republican perspective, it takes the focus off the economy, budget issue and the management of the state and it puts in on one hot button issue and it’s probably a win for the Republicans in statewide office. We're not talking about how they are not creating jobs and our housing market isn't doing very good. We're talking about immigration. That seems to be a winner for the G.O.P.

Mary K. Reinhart:
I think that is a really good point. It's sucking the oxygen out of the room. There's no more talk about the economy and health care. We saw the DOW take a dive. I think the question becomes whether you start to see people say, hey, wait a minute. What about the economy? And start to begin asking those questions now that it's been a couple of months. I thought this was going to wear off in a little while but it's increased.


Mike Sunnucks:
The Democrats have gone along with it. Obama reacts to it. Goddard reacts to it. They've gone along for the ride. I don't know if that's a winner for them.

Ted Simons:
Speaking of Goddard, he says he is supposed to represent the state if somebody wants to sue on 1070. The governor wants her own attorney?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The governor has hired her own attorney already to represent her in the SB 1070 lawsuits. This is setting up what could very well be a Constitutional clash against the two parts of the executive branch, the attorney general and the governor. The governor says in House Bill 2162 that came along with the immigration measure, it specifically authorizes the governor to go hire her own attorney and leave the attorney general out of it. The Attorney General counters and says, wait a minute, I'm a Constitutional office. I'm to represent the state in lawsuits. I don't think this is going to be settled through dueling news conferences and press releases.

Mary K. Reinhart:
The question becomes, why do you elect an Attorney General then? Why elect him if he's not going to represent the state and the governor can come along and say, sorry, not at this time? Bender thinks this is unconstitutional. I think Goddard's office is saying, we're not going to fight that fight. It's a political stunt. If it gets to July 29th and push comes to shove, we'll see. But they haven't even committed to putting up a fight then.

Ted Simons:
We should mention, the trailer bill, the governor is saying all right. This is what it says. I'm going to do this, but the Attorney General's position by way of improvised statutes is to represent the states.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
One of the things that is hurting him in this, is in the English Language Learner case, the Flores case, he did decline as Attorney General to represent the legislature's position in this. People say, see, you can't trust him. I think somebody reminded me yesterday that at the time, lawmakers were even talking about starting impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General because he would not represent the state in the ELL case. He took a different position that was more – offensive to the law.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the point of view is, he's engaging her on her turf. He's engaging her on immigration. That seems to be the winning issue for her right now. I don't think he should play ball with her like this. They're just trying to undermine him and he's playing into it. He told the feds not to sue us over it, kind of moving towards the Republican position on this law even though he opposes it.

Mary K. Reinhart:
He's in a tough political spot, though. If he says, I hate this law, it's unconstitutional, 70% of the folks that say it's okay. If he takes -- so he's taking the position that it's Constitutional. I don't like it. I wouldn't have signed it. But it's my job as attorney general to defend it, even if I don't like it as I did with employer sanctions, with prop 200. He's defended bills, laws in the past that he didn't particularly like but sees it as his job to do so.

Mike Sunnucks:
Somebody is going to ask him in the campaign, is this Constitutional? That's going to be tough for him. People on his side of the aisle that don't think it is, is going to hurt him.

Ted Simons:
He’s also in a tough position in that If he wins, his heart wasn't in it anyway. If he loses, his heart wasn't in it anyways. Let's move on here. Romney in town campaigning for John McCain. What does this tell us about this race?

Mike Sunnucks:
It's the old presidential rivals. McCain vanquished him in the Republican campaign in 2008. Romney came into Mesa and campaigned with him. McCain has picked up pretty much all the endorsements out of this. The NRA, the right to life folks, the U.S. chambers, business groups here, all the delegation. The establishment, the Republican establishment is behind McCain. Palin has endorsed him. You know, part of it is just payback for past support. Future support, McCain can come in and help campaign with you. I think it helps McCain, Romney is Mormon and he probably has influence in the LDS community and conservatives.

Ted Simons:
Is he conservative enough for primary voters in the G.O.P. gubernatorial election?

Mary K. Reinhart:
I think it will be interesting to see J.D. Hayworth having a barbecue after Saturday Phoenix rising rally at the plaza. I think the primary will really tell us the strength of that tea party movement and whether or not they've got enough to pull a guy like J.D. Hayworth through the primary.



Ted Simons:
Let's move on to another race that had some fireworks. That is for Attorney General. I know you're at this particular debate. Tom Horne and Andrew Thomas lit it up, a real humdinger?

Mary K. Reinhart:
It was a humdinger. I don't know that we were surprised. There's a real difference between the two candidates right off the bat. Everybody knows that. This is the first time they met with the rowdy tea party crowd. The gloves came off in the opening statements. They didn't even wait for questions. And the, you know, the crowd was yelling and screaming and booing. It was quite a contest. I think both of them came out a little bloodied. But they raised all kinds of dirt at each other. They accused each other of lying, ambition. It all came up.

Ted Simons:
Some of the quotes from your story are amazing. Tom Horne as a liberal who switched parties. He's pro choice, pro-amnesty. Thomas made up stuff in a lawsuit? That's just a couple of seconds there. They went on for 90 minutes.

Mary K. Reinhart:
The poor moderator. She would try to ask a question and they would go yeah, but. And the next thing would have to be the rebuttal, because Thomas or Horne required the other guy to answer back, there was a lot of rebuttal that I don't think she was prepared for.

Ted Simons:
Who swayed the crowd? How many people were there?

Mary K. Reinhart:
I think it was a Thomas crowd.

Mike Sunnucks:
You mentioned tea party before, that is going to be a litmus test for the state of Arizona. They're the ones that are the loudest. They're the ones that complain and yell. We'll see if they're the ones that vote and the people that are a little quieter that may be a little more moderate, if they're the ones that turn out.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
What is interesting, the tea party had a chance to show their muscle last month when we had the sales tax election. It's a fiscal issue. It's a tax increase. You know, they said, well, we put up some signs but people took them down. Get used to it. That happens in campaigns. They were a nonfactor on something that you would think is a core issue.

Mike Sunnucks:
I don't think it's a core issue. It's a social movement. It's immigration, it's divisive issues I think it’s a lot more of that. I think that proved that they didn't turn out at all but they'll turn out for immigration.

Mary K. Reinhart:
One of Tom Horne's last statements to the crowd, was I’m the one that can win. you need 150,000 at least from the other party or independents to win the general and I'm the guy for it. I don't know if the tea party was swayed by that. That was kind of the line he has to walk.

Mike Sunnucks:
I don't think they care.

Ted Simons:
Another race is the governor's race. What happened to John Munger? Why did he drop out?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
John Munger says he dropped out because of the clean elections -- the state's public campaign finance law which the state supreme court said this week we're not going to take that challenge to the matching funds. You can come back and refile and do it in a different way. Immediately we're not going to block the request and not pass out matching funds. Without that, Munger, who is relying on private financing, says I can't compete. I'm not independently wealthy as Buz Mills is and I will not run under campaign financing. I'm boxed out and he left.

Mike Sunnucks:
I don't think there were circumstances where Munger would have won this primary. The people he spoke to seemed to like his ideas. Even for a Republican crowd, seemed like he resonated with them. Brewer has the encombancy I don't know if any ruling would have changed the thing. Maybe this was a convenient way to step out.

Ted Simons:
Another medical marijuana initiative will be hitting the ballot in November. We had the campaign spokesman here last night on "Horizon." Seems like this particular topic stays around, hangs around. They've moved it a little bit. Do we know how much different this is from previous initiative attempts?


Mary K. Reinhart:
Third time is the charm, right? This is supposed to protect doctors. I think that was the issue the last two times. Doctors weren't really protected from prosecution if they prescribed marijuana to their patients. This one evidently does that. It's also built in some language that will prevent Arizona I'm told from becoming California which has supposedly more dispensaries than Starbucks, but I'm not sure I believe that.

Ted Simons:
Is this -- the critics, I can hear it right now, this is a back door way to legalize marijuana. You have synthetic marijuana now, why isn't it good enough?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think it will be about money. If you see somebody like Sperling, from University of Phoenix, they put a lot of money in there. They get some folks that are ill that benefit from medical marijuana go on TV and they run a commercial that talks about the compassionate side of it. It could pass. Without that money, you get the anti-drug crowd. If they put some money in and run their own commercials saying this will destroy our society, you know, it could fail. I think it's one of those who spends the money on it. Are we still this libertarian state which we've always been or are we more of the conservative type of state, the tea party state?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think it's going to turn out to be one of the so-called citizen initiatives that we'll have on the ballot. A couple of years ago we had 19 ballot measures, a bunch of them citizen initiatives. This is one of the few ballot measures, the other being sent there by the legislature on a whole host of different issues. We haven't seen this sort of citizens effort.

Mike Sunnucks:
You're not seeing a "No" campaign yet. I don't know if they'll pop up. They may focus on immigration and those types of races. It may pass with some contradictory results which may be more conservative.

Ted Simons:
Real quickly. Would a tea party movement, how would they approach something like this?

Mike Sunnucks:
I would say they probably oppose it. I think they're socially conservative even though they claim to be more libertarian.

Ted Simons:
We'll stop it right there. Thanks a lot. We appreciate it.

Most of next week "Horizon" is preempted to bring you special programming. But Friday we'll be back with another edition of the journalists' roundtable. Washington week is next. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.


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