Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 22, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Local journalists discuss the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Robbie Sherwood - Arizona Republic
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday September 22nd, 2006. In the headlines this week, the U.S. senate race between incumbent Jon Kyl and challenger Jim Pederson heating up over the issue of illegal immigration. Republican gubernatorial challenger Len Munsil outlined his conservative reform agenda if he's elected governor. And a 60-day extension has been granted to a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge who is figuring out the constitutionality of Arizona's legislative districts. That's next on Horizon.

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Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Robbie Sherwood of the Arizona Republic, Paul Davenport of the Associated Press and Bob Robb of the Arizona Republic. With less than seven weeks to go before November's election. U.S. senate race between Republican incumbent Jon Kyl and Democratic challenger Jim Pederson continues to grab a lot of headlines. This week, the candidates exchanged words over illegal immigration. Robbie, what are both sides saying? Historically, of course?

Robbie Sherwood:
Well, the word they're exchanging is the A word, amnesty. Both accusing the other of being the bigger supporter of amnesty which is really kind of a verboten term now in the illegal immigration discourse. Neither claims support for it, but they both have evidence. You've seen the ad. Well, you can't miss it - Of the sheriff standing with Jon Kyl mustachioed, cowboy sheriffs repeating over and over Jim Pederson supported amnesty referring to a 1986 law passed by congress, signed by President Reagan that did grant amnesty to about 3 million illegal immigrants. It also did employer sanctions, enhanced border enforcement. And Pederson has taken heat for a radio interview which he referred to that '86 law as the last effective measure congress did.

Michael Grant:
The last comprehensive reform ever I think.

Robbie Sherwood:
He used the word effective, which is what was killing him and when you refer to amnesty, it's tough to conclude amnesty as effective, a bill that implied tacit support for amnesty, so he took a lot of heat. Well, what happened is some opposition research popped up in 1986 Scottsdale progress article campaign profile of Kyl's first run for congress that talked about his support for that law where he praised that as an effective way of dealing with illegal immigration, and while he articulated a couple of problems, none of them were amnesty. So he didn't vote on it at the time because he wasn't in congress yet but he was at the time considered a supporter, so it kind of came back on him a little bit.

Michael Grant:
Now, Bob, I'm not sure how much time we want to burn on this walk down memory lane. But apparently there's a little disagreement Senator Kyl as Congressman Kyl voted against something. Do we know precisely what?

Bob Robb:
As I understand it he voted both for some things and against some things that might be relevant to the issue of whether he supported amnesty. The only thing I understand he voted for was simply to extend the deadline for applying for it under the '86 act. It's really unfortunate that we've taken this stroll down memory lane, because there is a very substantive difference between the candidates about what to do about illegal immigration now. Jim Pederson supports giving people who are currently here illegally a pathway to citizenship and Kyl opposes that. I mean, that is a huge difference. Very relevant and salient to the current discussion. So hopefully the candidates will move the clock forward 20 years and quit debating about what position Kyl took in real time in '86, and what position or incautious remarks Jim Pederson might have made about the '86 act currently.

Michael Grant:
Agreed, Robbie, but of course it's difficult to get a discussion of this into a nice tight 15 second sound bite. And of course, as you sort of alluded, the A word, if you want to keep that out there because that's sort of viewed as one of the lethal hand grenades of the whole immigration thing.

Robbie Sherwood:
That's the only word an uneducated voter or someone who hasn't read up on that issue remembers about a candidate. That's equal to a no vote in today's environment, given to what's going on with illegal immigration.

Michael Grant:
Let's go down to speaking of a race that is certainly dominated in large part by immigration; let's go down to the congressional seat that Jim Colby is vacating. Republicans -- national Republicans pulled financial support on Randy Graff?

Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah. They pulled ad buys that they had reserved down there to the tune of about 1 million dollars. The bottom line is they're not going to come down there and support Randy Graff anytime soon. It came on the heels of a trip back to Washington, D.C. that Graff made where if you read his press releases was pretty encouraging. He had to mend some fences there with the Republicans because it had come down into his primary race and supported Steve Huffman in a crowded primary in order to try to get a more moderate person into the race with the Democrat and it didn't work. However, this sort of coincided with Gabrielle Gifford's campaign leaked an internal poll that showed her up 19. You can take that with a grain of salt, but it probably didn't help Graff's fortunes back east when they're looking at which races can we win and which ones can't we win and does it make sense to spend money there.

Michael Grant:
The conventional wisdom Bob as you know down there has been if Randy Graff wins the primary the Democrats get to immediately go and ask Janet Napolitano and that sort of thing.

Bob Robb:
The Republican National Committee campaign committee actually said that before the election and gave a substantial amount of money to one of Graff's opponents. The Republicans have about 50 seats nationwide that they are looking at. And it will be very difficult for Graff during the course of this campaign to convince Republicans that they ought to invest some of their national resources in this particular race.

Robbie Sherwood:
What we need to watch for is if the Democratic national money goes out of that district, because it's now seen as a sure thing and does that land in other races that maybe now that we have some money to spend does that land in C.D. 5 with J.D. Hayworth and Harry Mitchell? Is that race close enough to - you know, polls show it's not - but is that race close enough to start spending some national money, since that money is now free to go around the country?

Michael Grant:
Now, let's shift to the governor's race two or three developments with Len Munsil. Why don't we start I suppose with the substance one? He laid out a plan, Paul, this week for his first 100-days in office?

Paul Davenport:
Yeah. Len Munsil put out a one-sheeter, a conservative reform agenda of bullet points. He says what he's going to be doing in the next six weeks is taking one subject every week and putting out specific proposals for the electorate so he can get a grasp on what he would do. He's trying to draw distinctions between himself and Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano on this by laying out specifics of things like school vouchers, tax cuts, --

Michael Grant:
Parental consent on abortion.

Paul Davenport:
Parental consent on abortion. Border security measures and things like that. He's really going to lay out differences between himself and the Governor. At this news conference where I think about 20 Republican legislators and legislative candidates and he's saying he'll be in sync with them, this stuff is actually doable if he gets elected.

Michael Grant:
There's a theme obviously going on here, Bob, and I always wonder if it's effective or not, because some people are just as happy that the legislature and Governor don't really get along. Does the harmony thing play well, you think?

Bob Robb:
I actually don't. I think one of the more powerful arguments that Napolitano has although it's tricky in terms of how her campaign uses it, is that you need her as a break on the excessives of what many people regard as an excessively conservative legislature. So my suspicion is Munsil will be better advised or get further by stressing the elements of the reform agenda, the different direction he would like to take the state compared to where Napolitano would take the state, and not emphasize so much that he will be -- that he will be in harmony with the Republican legislature. I think what he's trying to do is to say is these things are real because the people who would have to enact it are with me. But I do believe that one of Napolitano's best arguments is you need her as a check on the Republican legislature.

Robbie Sherwood:
One of the things about these broad plans for office is, you know, the criticisms that was raised was that they lacked a lot of specifics. And I tend not to hold that against candidates who are running from the outside. Because they're not absolute experts on policy and governance, and they should run on some more broad goals. But the other thing is if he wins people expect you to enact exactly what you said. The one thing where he was kind of specific, and it would be curious to see if he wins if he actually does, which is turn over the appropriation authority on federal funds that come into the state to the legislature rather than the Governor's office.

Michael Grant:
Gosh, everybody since George WP Hunt has been vetoing that concept. That's a breaker there.

Bob Robb:
The description of this as generally vague was a little bit overstated. There were some specific things in it. For example, phasing out the state income tax over ten years, equalizing funding between charter schools and traditional schools. And my expectation is that in those elements that there weren't specifics such as employer sanctions under border security, those are going to be forthcoming. But there's a reasonable amount of meat in the first offer and my guess is you're going to get the specifics for good or real as this campaign progresses.

Paul Davenport:
One thing he's trying to do here is just spread it out over the 6-week time period so he can get publicity and news coverage about it because frankly these publicly-funded candidates don't have a lot of money to put their message out. This is a way to get something out that he regards as positive and he's hoping the media covers it.

Michael Grant:
Is he going to have time, though, to develop any of those bullet points if he's doing like ten debates with Governor Napolitano over the next six weeks?

Paul Davenport:
She says three; he says ten, whether it will be seven and a half and where the half will be. It was kind of amusing if nothing else today. The Governor puts out a news release saying she and Barry Hess are on the same page, they're going for three. Munsil puts out one this afternoon that says he and Barry Hess are on the same page for ten. It's obvious they're not really talking to each other at this point.

Michael Grant:
So Barry Hess is the real power broker on this struggle.

Bob Robb:
Well, apparently Hess is going to have 12, 13 debates, Napolitano only three and Munsil only ten.

Michael Grant:
Well, if it's a Friday in election season we certainly can't have one of these programs without talking about clean election funding, because that's just what you do for three, four, five months. Now, Len Munsil's gotten some additional clean election funding because of the couple of websites, right?

Paul Davenport:
One website involving a couple groups of Democratic operatives -- not the Democratic party as far as it's been established, but Democratic operatives -- put out and they also did some automated phone calls right around the primary time against Munsil. And so he got a relatively small amount of matching funds for that. It's still going to be debated whether from Munsil's perspective whether that's enough. He thinks there's a lot more to this.

Michael Grant:
And there's also -- and if you need a blackboard for this we can roll it in, but there's allegations of ties between these two groups and another group, right?

Bob Robb:
Correct. What it appears has happened is that some Democratic operatives, some of these itinerant young guys that kind of wander around from state to state came to the state and decided to have a little mischief and fun, so they created an organization that they call "The Arizona Conservative Trust." not sure they're conservativism you can trust -- to run this negative campaign against Munsil. They appear to have relationships including at least a period of employment from an organization called "The Project for Arizona's Future." this is supposed to be a nonpartisan issue-oriented campaign.

Michael Grant:
Radio ads.

Bob Robb:
It claimed it was going to raise big bucks, but there hasn't been a lot of manifestation of spending those big bucks. And just somehow the issues, positions that it has taken just happen to coincide precisely with whatever position on whatever issue the Governor is taking at this point in time. So the suspicion has been that it was intended to sort of promote her agenda. The question is whether there is an illegal connection between the two organizations, which the Munsil campaign has suggested is evidenced by the fact that the report, the campaign finance report for the Arizona Conservative Trust and the related organization of that was faxed from the fax machine, The Project for Arizona's Future. So there is at a minimum, unseemly mischief, trying to create false signals to the electorate. There may be serious legal problems here. And the Clean Election Commission has subpoena power. And the question is how aggressively is it going to exercise it?

Paul Davenport:
Munsil's campaign this afternoon also stirred the pot a bit more by throwing complaints to the County Attorney's office and the Secretary of State's office.

Michael Grant:
And no possibility at all that their fax machine was just broken? Well, I mean, that would be one of the --

Bob Robb:
And they went next door.

Paul Davenport:
I did ask somebody at one point, have these people never heard of Kinko's?

Bob Robb:
They're young Democratic operatives.

Michael Grant:
We've got a few Republicans endorsing Harry Mitchell in the challenge against J.D. Hayworth.

Robbie Sherwood: Yes. A lot of them are city-affiliated. Former Scottsdale Mayor, Sam Campana, former Tempe mayor, Neil Giuliano, members of the current Tempe city council. That's a district in which Harry Mitchell needs to convince voters, crossover Republican voters to vote for him, because he's outnumbered. It's a bar bell district. Scottsdale would be one end of the barbell, Ahwatukee would be the other, and the bar would be Tempe. He has the bar, J.D. has the bells. He needs to eat into that. I don't know what this implies other than maybe some of these folks built relationships with him as mayor. I'm not sure yet that's a indication of strong crossover Republican support.

Bob Robb:
This is not Barry Goldwater endorsing Karen English, the Democratic candidate for congress one year, which was kind of an earthquake political event. I don't think there were any surprises on that list. Mitchell does need a large Republican crossover vote in that district. I don't think these are the names necessarily -- these are the names necessarily that will get him there.

Michael Grant:
I always tend to think, too, Bob, I'm not sure if you agree with me or not, I almost think endorsements and those kind of things matter more to people like us than they do to the general populace.

Bob Robb:
No question. Unless it symbolizes something, as Goldwater's endorsement did.

Robbie Sherwood:
Mitchell has a hill to climb. There's a poll out there, national poll survey USA from New York that has come in and shown him down 12. Mitchell's camp says they over sampled Republicans and it's high for that sample in the c.d. 5 the margin for errors would be pretty large, but it's still a pretty big hill to climb. That same poll shows Pederson-Kyl to closing to within 5, so the Democrats don't want to throw that whole baby out with that bath water. They want to create the impression they are closing in this other bigger race. So, it's not going to be necessarily easy for Mitchell to close that. He is going up on TV with a very strong, hard-hitting ad trying to link Hayworth to the Abramoff scandal and that seems to be the tact they're going to do to try to cross over those votes.

Michael Grant:
For the remainder of the campaign? Money development, clean elections money development as well. It's kind of strange in the attorney general's race involving win if Bill Montgomery spent his primary money?

Paul Davenport:
That's right. Terry Goddard filed a complaint saying in essence that Montgomery ought to lose half of his general election funding. Goddard points out that Montgomery has reported on his campaign finance report that he spent approximately $73,000 on primary election day for television video production and media buys. And the complaint being that that obviously couldn't have been for the primary election because that's Election Day and it wouldn't have hit the air in time to be used, and therefore that spending was truly aimed at the general election. And that should be deducted from the money Montgomery gets for that. That would put him at a disadvantage. It's already an uphill race for running against an incumbent. But if you're a Republican in that situation, you don't want to lose half your money. Now, Montgomery says this was legitimate. He already committed to the spending well before Election Day and he's going to contest it.

Michael Grant:
And just never got around to filming.

Paul Davenport:
He had the question when the out of town crew could come in.

Robbie Sherwood:
It's a weird situation with clean elections, because the rules are the rules, and this goes right up to the edge of those rules. But you saw how -- I can show you an example of how it was handled in the governor's race for Napolitano. She had a bunch of money and no primary and she spent it on a television commercial that was a minute long talking about all of her accomplishments. Montgomery doesn't have that luxury. Commercials don't get cheaper for candidates running in down ballot races-- and they get a lot less money, so he was limited in what he could spend the money on. He does have to spend it on ads attacking his opponent. He didn't have a primary. So it's a strange situation.

Michael Grant:
You've got an uncontested primary.

Bob Robb:
And paradoxically, if he would have run attacking Terry Goddard the week before the primary even though he wasn't officially the Republican candidate there would not be a clean elections violation. So it was frankly a rather odd choice of tactics.

Michael Grant:
I think that's the time we've used the word "odd" and "clean elections" in the same sentence. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields had been expected to rule this month on the constitutionality Arizona's legislative districts. However, he's been granted a 60-day extension by the Arizona Supreme Court. Paul why was the judge given time?

Paul Davenport:
Because they want this case to go on forever, Michael, as far as I can tell.

Michael Grant:
2010 looms!

Paul Davenport:
That's right, I've been covering this one for years and it's not going away anytime soon. He faced a 60-day deadline to deal with a pending motion. Basically, he had ruled before the legislative map was unconstitutional. The court of appeals said he used the wrong legal standards and told him go back and re-rule using the ones they wanted him to use and that's what's still before him. He asked for more time from the chiefs' justice and got it. She said in her order that frankly it's a complicated case and he has to go back and review all the evidence from that trial that was held by my estimate, I think it was almost three years ago.

Michael Grant:
But I had forgotten that thing was still pending. As a reminder -- and you touched on it -- the court of appeals did basically say that no, in the main the way the redistricting process had been accomplished was okay and judge fields we want you to take a look just at some trailing issues.

Paul Davenport:
That might be overstating it a bit. They said that he didn't give them enough deference as a quasi-legislative body. They said --

Michael Grant:
I think disagreed with one of the basic premises though-- on the competitive -- how much they had to take competitiveness into account.

Paul Davenport:
He said it had to be very important as a weight. And they said no, it's subsidiary to a handful of other ones. So he's got to go back and look at the whole big question using a different lens.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of elections and courts, Randy Pullen is taking upstairs the lower court ruling that basically invalidated the city of Phoenix proposition that would require Phoenix to enter into a compact with the feds on enforcing immigration law.

Bob Robb:
Right. The city of Phoenix has an ordinance provision or charter provision, which if you submit an initiative and there's insufficient signatures you get an extra number of days to collect, but you're deficient. A Superior Court judge held that that conflicted with state laws governing initiative and referendum matters. And so Pullen has appealed that. And my guess is the Supreme Court will accept this, because that presents a legal issue that's important and is likely to repeat itself. And I don't think the court would be likely to leave people who might want to gather signatures for initiatives in jurisdictions that have that sort of extra time provision without guidance.

Michael Grant:
Bottom line is it's not going to make the November ballot, but depending if that ruling is overturned might say make a ballot in March or something.

Bob Robb:
Sometime next year.

Michael Grant:
Spring cycle. Almost out of time, but we've got another challenge, Paul, against the tuition tax credits, this time the corporate tuition tax credit?

Paul Davenport:
That's right. The courts had upheld the individual tax credit. The new lawsuit says that this corporate one is just a bit different and it exposes it, makes it vulnerable to a legal challenge under the state constitutional prohibitions for public funding of private and religious education. Obviously, the other side disagrees with that. The key issue is whether a cap on the total number of tax credits constitutes an appropriation.

Bob Robb:
Actually, the real issue is the fact that only one member of the Supreme Court which upheld the individual tuition tax credit is still on the court. So you've got four new justices and I think this is an excuse to try to re-litigate the same issue with a new set of judges.

Michael Grant:
All right. Roll the dice with a different table. Okay. Panelists, thank you very much. We are out of time.

Larry Lemmons:
A lawsuit has been filed to challenge the constitutionality of the Arizona Corporate Tax Credit Act which would allow corporations to direct some of their taxes to school tuition organizations. Also proposition 107 would amend the constitution to ban same sex unions. A debate of the issue Monday night at 7 on channel 8's Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Tuesday, we'll give you the results of the latest Cronkite 8 poll. We continue our series on propositions with a look at propositions 201 and 206, which would ban smoking in most public places. Thanks very much for joining us on a Friday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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