Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 6, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Donít miss HORIZONís weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the weekís top stories.
Guests:
  • Paul Davenport - Associated Press
Category: Journalists Roundtable

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Michael Grant:
It's Friday October 6, 2006. In the headlines this week, with a month to go before the November election, the three candidates running for governor sat down for a debate last night. President Bush made a stop in Arizona this week for a campaign event and to sign a bill to build a fence along the border with Mexico. And the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has put a temporary hold on Arizona's Voter Identification Law. That's next on Horizon.

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Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant and this is the journalist's roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Paul Davenport of the Associated Press, Bob Robb of the Arizona Republic and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune.

Michael Grant:
Last night the three candidates running for governor sat down at this roundtable for their first debate. Governor Janet Napolitano, Republican Challenger Len Munsil and Libertarian Candidate Barry Hess discussed some of the key issues in the campaign. Paul, you were next door. Paul, what captivated you?

Paul Davenport:
We heard what we have heard before with these candidates. Len Munsil criticized Governor Napolitano on issues like abortion, immigration and 9/11. The memorial. In her theme of governance Governor Napolitano tried to deflect a lot of that. Generally he landed some blows I think it's fair to say. But she did a good job in some aspects of deflecting them.

Bob Robb:
The debates for governor are far less significant than the debate for example for the presidency. But to the extent a challenger needs to cross a credibility threshold and debates are an opportunity to do that I think Munsil did that quite well. He more than held his own. He pressed his agenda. And I think demonstrated the ability to stand on the stage and with Napolitano and debate the issues. As I said I don't think it will have much of an effect electorally but to the extent the inside politics sort of rail bird class influences these things slightly I think Munsil crossed a credibility hurdle and did it quite adroitly.

Paul Davenport:
One thing that struck me the format it had a moderator, Michael in between the candidates and we had a libertarian Barry Hess participated as an equal with the other two. It inhibits ability of the challenger as you're saying who wants that credibility factor to go to really the one-on-one with the incumbent, I think. What's your take on that?

Bob Robb: Well, I actually moderated debates work better because you have the ability to try to attempt to the extent you can to keep the candidates on the issues on substantive matters. And it becomes less in those -- as in those one-on-one debates a sort of forensic fire ball fight and more of a discussion of the issues. I thought it was a pretty good discussion of the issues. As I said I think the critical question was whether Munsil would pass through the credibility threshold and I think he did.

Paul Davenport:
He's always been regarded as an articulate advocate so his performance didn't surprise me in that respect.

Michael Grant:
That's basically been his profession for a number of years. He clearly can articulate issues. I tend to agree with you, Paul, anytime you have the three-way debate, though, you do necessarily have a breakup between the two of the candidates squaring off. Obviously still appearing on the same table.

Bob Robb:
Although you got the best line of the night from Barry Hess which was we were promised out of the box thinking and all we got was a bigger box.

Paul Davenport:
I think given that on the 9/11 memorial issue it has interesting, Munsil was seriously into attack mode on that and the Governor was being pressed to defend what she's done and hasn't done in that regard. And then we have Barry saying, well, on one hand this, on the other hand that. And sort of diffused it a little bit I thought.

Michael Grant:
Basically if I recall correctly he said, well, I suppose we've got to take a look at what kind of memorial were you thinking about? Were you one that voted to the event itself or the larger -- of events? Latest poll results on the race, the behavior research poll, showed about the same result, Paul, did it not, that we had gotten on our poll about 10 days ago or something?

Paul Davenport:
They were fairly striking. The KAET Poll had a really large group I think it was 800 respondents and this poll had a smaller group and then a smaller group of that of likely voters and the results were very similar to the KAET Poll, roughly a 2-to-1 margin for Napolitano over Munsil about a month before the election.

Michael Grant:
Munsil saying he hasn't gone up on TV yet, they haven't done mailings yet. He's going to make a last 30-day surge. One of the questions, Bob, is why haven't you gotten up on TV yet and done mailings yet?

Bob Robb:
I think the answer to that is possibility of clean election funding. Even the gubernatorial candidates just get about $680,000 to run a statewide campaign. You obviously want to target that to the extent you can to maximize its effect as voters are deciding. The polls to date are showing Napolitano with a crossover republican vote in the mid 30's.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Bob Robb:
It's very, very doubtful that this will sustain itself. So even if the polls aren't picking it up I think this race will tighten. But I continue to believe that Munsil's chances to make a race out of it unfortunately is out of his hands. It depends upon some independent expenditure group deciding to invest $1 million on a very smart campaign. You just have difficulty even making a case against an incumbent -- a popular incumbent with $680,000, even though there would be matching funds triggered for Napolitano. Munsil just needs this race to be a higher volume, more high-profile race than it is headed towards right now.

Paul Giblin:
It's very low-profile when you look at the U.S. senate race. Those candidates are into about $10 million each in their campaigns or more.

Bob Robb:
They're now spending about 300 to $350,000 a piece just on television advertising. Is clean election funding each week. So clean election funding would be gone in about a week and a half.

Paul Giblin:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of raising money, how much money did President Bush raise for Congressman Renzi in his trip this week?

Paul Giblin:
He raised about $500,000. They had about 350 people at the Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley. Everyone paid $500 to get the danish and the coffee. I got a bargain I had a couple danishes and two cups of coffee.

Michael Grant:
Really?

Paul Giblin:
But I didn't pay the $500. I slid in free, but other people paid $2,000 for the -- for the night which was a typical sort of thing.

Michael Grant:
What did the President have to say while he was here?

Paul Giblin:
He had a couple things to say. One of the best moments of the day is when he introduced the dignitaries around the room including Renzi and Hayworth and then introduced this fellow named Lee Munsil and a guy named Len Munsil stood up and waved to the crowd rather sheepishly.

Michael Grant:
How many protestors were out there?

Paul Giblin:
There were a good number of protestors. There were perhaps a couple hundred protestors or at least several dozen protestors. They've been showing up at other events. They protest Kyl from time to time, protested the Vice-President when he was in town recently and they were out there in good numbers this week. They had signs that said "Real Christians Don't Torture." one of my favorites was "Bush is a Lying Turd." these people didn't have a lot of love lost for the President and they were letting their views be heard.

Bob Robb:
I think the last has a potential career as a copy writer for political advertising. It has the same kind of nice touch and subtlety we're seeing on the airwaves.

Michael Grant:
We did get 700-miles of border fence out of the thing. That's going to be up Wednesday of next week is it?

Paul Giblin:
Well, no. And then the exact number of mileage for the fence, 700 is the number they're sort of looking at but it's going to be researched for awhile. Some of its going to be actual fencing a wall, others parts of it will be electronic gizmos. Other parts will be vehicle barriers which I've seen in the desert. They stick up out of the ground so you can't drive a truck through.

Paul Davenport:
A virtual fence as opposed to a physical fence?

Paul Giblin:
Right. The virtual fences are these infrared sensors and I've seen those, too. Those are kind of cool. I was near a river down there in the border and it looked like a read sticking up. A lot of reads in the area. But it catches people coming by. Then they're building these all weather roads behind the border where the border patrol can speed along 50, 60-miles a hour of if a group of illegals are coming across the border the sensor will detect it. Theoretically, border patrol nearby can race over there.

Paul Davenport:
Why not just build the fence? If you're building some fence why not all fence?

Paul Giblin:
That's a good question. It's impossible in some places. There's for instance river beds that move around. Also -- and animals go across the border. They don't know where the border is. So if you're doing that you're going to start hurting your wildlife population. It's also extremely expensive, Paul. If you can put up these sensors every half mile that's a lot cheaper.

Bob Robb:
Would there be an invasion of undocumented animals?

Paul Giblin:
Undocumented coyotes and skunks.

Bob Robb:
Does Russell Pearce know about this?

Michael Grant:
Since we've talked about poll results in the governor's race and I think we have some other poll results to talk about as well, I want to ask you, Bob -- because we've got what, 19 ballot propositions in November. And there's been a lot of speculation. A lot of breaking different ways. This is a big think question. Have we figured out in the main who the propositions help and potentially perhaps who they hurt?

Bob Robb:
Well, the most important effect that they might have is on actual turnout at the election. And there's two propositions that are claimed to have turnout implications. The ban on gay marriage has been demonstrated in a variety of other states to bring out voters who otherwise would be marginal and might not make it.

Michael Grant:
It played a role in 2004.

Bob Robb:
It probably was the deciding factor in bush winning Ohio and retaining the presidency. The pro-107, that's the ballot proposition that would ban gay marriage campaign, is expressly targeting republicans who voted in the presidential race but do not usually vote in the off-presidential general elections. So affecting the turnout is its Primary Election strategy. Democrats believe that minimum wage has a similar effect on turning out its vote. The evidence of this I think is much thinner. There's a couple of congressional races that democrats believe that it did have an effect on. But my guess is that's more of a talking point in a campaign. Pederson has used it, for example, to put the pressure on Kyl with respect to minimum wage. And I think its turnout effect is likely to be less. Certainly the cast of the ballot propositions with the immigration issues, the gay marriage issue, if Munsil could turn it into a higher-volume campaign I think cut against the Governor on her side she's got the minimum wage issue, probably the land use referendum, the first things first initiative, the tobacco tax increase to fund --

Michael Grant:
Early childhood education.

Bob Robb:
Early childhood education. So there are some things on her side of the agenda but I don't think they cut quite as emotionally to core audiences as do the ones that cut against her.

Paul Davenport:
What about the ability of the democrats to counter I think it's regarded as pretty vaunted the republican get out of vote type effort? Historically the democrats have done better in that regard. How do you compare the two at this point, though?

Bob Robb:
Well, the democrats in 2002, the last time Napolitano was on the ballot, did a remarkable job of turnout, particularly in Pima County. It was the first race going back beyond the 1990 Goddard-Symington race in which the democratic nominee actually carried Pima County by the registration margin. So the democrats sort of had caught up in 2002.

Michael Grant:
They did have the boost, though, of the gaming initiatives as well.

Bob Robb:
Well, I looked at turnout on the Indian reservations and it wasn't marginally greater than it was in previous off-presidential years. So I think that that one really didn't have the influence. But the Pima county results were significant. Now you then move the clock ahead to 2004 and after the democrats had kind of caught up with republicans, the republicans under Karl Rove just mastered the art of turnout and in a presidential year republican turnout was 11 percent higher than democratic turnout. Much larger than in 2002. Even though in presidential years the margin tends to shrink. So if the republicans have learned those techniques and can replicate -- replicate it and you combine that with the pull of the gay marriage amendment you might have a chance to have a very tilted republican turnout.

Paul Giblin:
So you're suggesting that people who aren't going to turn out to vote for say a senate race are going to turn out to vote for a gay marriage initiative?

Bob Robb:
Oh, yeah, quite possibly. Off-president -- it is not at all unusual for ballot measures to outpoll in terms of the number of people participating U.S. senate races or gubernatorial races. Across the country that's not at all an unusual phenomenon.

Paul Davenport:
What do you think? Would Iraq and the Foley scandal in Washington be a drag on turnout?

Bob Robb:
Well, I actually think it's a boost to democratic turnout. The problem is that Jim Pederson is sort of dodging saying the magical words that causes those anti-war activists to get committed, which is a time table for withdrawal.

Michael Grant:
Well, regardless of who shows up at the polls, at least as of this moment they don't need identification. Right?

Paul Davenport:
That's right. The a two-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco surprised a lot of folks around the state yesterday by issuing an injunction that came on an appeal by challengers to what was on the ballot in 2004 known as proposition 200, the voter identification parts of that, for folks. You have to who you are when you show up at the polls by producing certain types of identification and when you're newly registering to vote you have to prove your citizenship. The injunction puts both of those on home. The deadline to register to vote is this coming Monday at midnight so that has a little bit of effect.

Michael Grant:
Strange time for this to break through. If memory serves I want to say that about four or five challenges to proposition 200, taking various forms so far had not succeeded. That's not to say that they were over.

Paul Davenport:
There were three lawsuits on this general voting identification matter that were filed, I think it was back in the May-June time table of this year. Judge -- trial judge here in Phoenix refused to block implementation of it and then about a month later now we have this ruling from the 9th Circuit. The Attorney General's office is appealing it. They told us today they were going to ask the same panel to reconsider. That's a by the book sort of progression in things. May not be the fastest way to do it but that's the way you do it if you want to cover every little tick along the way. The next step presumably would be asking the full 9th circuit a majority of judges on that court and then go up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bob Robb:
I think this step of the 9th Circuit has been overreacted to particularly by strong proposition 200 and voter identification advocates. This wasn't a decision on the merits. This was a decision to provide injunctive relief to keep it from going into effect for this election. So there was a suspension of it. There are strong federal laws protecting the right to vote, and there are substantive legal issues to be considered. So this was sort of a balancing of the burden. And since Arizona had conducted numerous elections without these requirements and they were new and arguably might have a chilling effect on voter participation by some, it's not surprising, I think, that injunctive relief -- injunctive relief was offered and an adjudication on the merits is yet to come.

Paul Giblin:
The only people it's going to have a chilling effect on are people who are not citizens and people who shouldn't be voting in the first place. This is one of these lawyerly decisions where they slight it up so narrowly you don't know what you're looking at anymore. Common sense says if you're an American citizen you ought to be able to vote. If you're not an American citizen go vote on someone else's election.

Bob Robb:
That's a decision on the merits. What the court of appeals was saying we ain't going to decide that yet. In the meantime we're going to suspend it. They haven't decided if that argument is correct as a matter of law.

Paul Davenport:
I want to mention that Arizona -- this is not just happening in Arizona. I think there's at least a handful of states around the country -- Georgia comes to mind -- who have similar laws not identical but similar laws have come up.

Bob Robb:
It's folly to predict that any issue will ultimately get to the U.S. Supreme Court. But I think this one is highly likely to get there. And that's where it will get ultimately resolved.

Michael Grant:
What's the Democratic Party decided about advertising for Jim Pederson? Same thing that republicans decided on Randy Graff? Or should we exactly read it quite that way?

Bob Robb:
I do think it's comparable and I think the decision about Graff was over read as well. What happens is that these -- both political parties reserve advertising time well in advance and make reservations well in excess of what they're actually going to spend. That then kind of puts their marker in place. They then see the way these campaigns evolve and decide to pull it. So this wasn't -- when the advertising was placed, it wasn't as much of a sign of confidence in Pederson's ability to beat Kyl as was then perceived. And pulling it is not that strong of a sign, although it's a stronger sign of discouragement. What it really does is to put Pederson in a tough position with respect to fundraising. He's already cut back on his buys to be about -- and Kyl has bumped his up. So rather than as was occurring for about a month, good month and a half, Pederson outspending Kyl by at least 3-to-2 and in some ways 2-to-1 there's now kind of parity. And if Pederson puts in more of his own money into the race, which appears to be his only practical alternative, that will trigger the millionaire's exemption and allow Kyl to go back to his maxed out donors and match it. So it appears as though unless Pederson is going to dig really really unimaginably deep that Kyl will probably have parity and fundraising cash on hand advantage for the remainder of the campaign.

Paul Giblin:
Kyl always had more money than Pederson has.

Bob Robb:
More on hand but not spending as much.

Paul Giblin:
Pederson's problem is this, since he's putting so much money into his own campaign he's having a hard time getting other people to contribute. You're the millionaire. You're funding $8 million so far. Why should I put in 100 or 200 or 1,000 or whatever the number is?

Michael Grant:
Pick up a couple of nonpolitically related stories, Paul. The state auditors talking about how the state has been spending the 9/11 security grants from the feds.

Paul Davenport:
That's right. This is the latest of several reports the auditor general's office conducted a special financial audit at the request of the direction of the legislature and at the request of the house speaker. Essentially the state doles out millions of dollars that it gets from the Federal Government for Homeland Security purposes. Most of that money goes to local governments around the state for a variety of purposes, everything from buying night vision goggles to conducting training exercises to putting up surveillance cameras on water towers. You name it they probably spend it on there. The republican legislators have been critical about that. They partly don't like that they have virtually no oversight of that although that's changing a bit under a new law reorganizing the state's Homeland Security apparatus that was enacted this past spring. And I think you might want to take back part of what you said in saying it's not a political matter because in fact Mr. Munsil today recited this audit today as he was announcing his support for the concept of having the legislature have appropriation power over federal dollars such as this.

Michael Grant:
He said he would sign that. He would be the first governor since George W.P. Hunt.

Paul Davenport:
I think I wrote it as he is breaking ranks with governors past and present.

Michael Grant:
Is this in part going back to some of the stories that we -- I think we read this summer, past spring about, oh, all-terrain vehicles and those kind? Are those the sorts of concerns that were being expressed?

Paul Davenport:
That's right. And like I said, the dollars in question go for you name it in terms of anything they can arguably make a case.

Michael Grant:
Panelists we are out of time. Thank you very much. Monday, Horizon on will be off the air for some special programming on eight. But here's what's on Tuesday.

Merry Lucero:
Arizona is among the nation's fastest-growing states and we desperately need more physicians, especially in rural communities. One major in-road to addressing this health crisis the University of Arizona is expanding its college of medicine in Downtown Phoenix to a four year program. Details Tuesday on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Wednesday, we tell you about a new PBS series "Remaking American Medicine" which looks at how many patients are actually hurt and not helped while in the hospital. Thursday, one-hour special on the propositions you will be voting on next month. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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