Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 27, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Local reporters review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Paul Giblin - East ValleyTribune
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday October 27, 2006, and the headlines this week, a new Cronkite-Eight Poll shows Democratic Senate Challenger Jim Pederson closing to within six points of Incumbent Republican Senator Jon Kyl. Republican Incumbent Congressman J.D. Hayworth traded barbs with his Democratic Challenger Harry Mitchell in a debate for the 5th District Seat and State Treasurer David Peterson agreed to resign after entering a guilty plea this week for failing to report earnings from selling character building materials to schools, 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 Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Howard Fischer of Capital Media Services and Mike Sunnucks of the Business Journal. With less than two weeks to go Arizona's U.S. Senate Race between Republican Incumbent Jon Kyl, Democratic Challenger Jim Pederson appears to be tightening. A new Cronkite-Eight Poll shows Jim Pederson gaining ground on Kyl. Paul, is the race tightening up?

Paul Giblin:
It is tightening up. As you mentioned, your own poll shows it's within six points now.

Michael Grant:
But I'm not sure if I trust our poll. That's why I asked you the question.

Paul Giblin:
I don't trust any poll. But all the polls seem to be squeezing the margin there, and that was the tightest one. They were floating around about 9\%, 11\%, so 6 is the tightest. The big question, is that enough? There's less than two weeks now and should he be closer than 6\% if he thinks he's going to win? Probably he should. So it's going to be a real push for the end.

Mike Sunnucks:
Republicans are counting on a turnout advantage. Boy say they have a voter registration advantage here but they also think they have a better turnout machine than the dems.

Michael Grant:
Not only a better turnout machine, but I mean history teaches that usually on election day, republicans have anywhere from a 2 to 3-point efficacy advantage.

Mike Sunnucks:
Up to 5.

Howard Fischer:
But here's the real problem, the other thing Bruce's poll showed. There is a distrust, not so much of Kyl, but of republicans in general. I mean, you had a situation where he asked people who should control congress next time, and in a state with a republican voter edge, 60 something percent said the democrats should and 16\% of the republicans said democrats should be in charge. That's the problem Kyl has, and if Pederson is going to close the gap you talk about, he has to take a lesson from what Bruce Merrill found. They weren't voting for Jim Pederson. They don't know who he is but they don't like Kyl, Bush, the administration or G.O.P., and if he can sell that between now and then maybe he can win.

Mike Sunnucks:
One thing you'll see republicans hammer home, they'll tell their own, if you vote Jon Kyl out or J.D. Hayworth out, you'll end up with people like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank and Harry Reed and a fair number of republicans even though they're disgusted with Iraq they'll have a hard time pulling the trigger and voting for the D's in the voting booth.

Michael Grant:
And Paul, I've noticed in at least the latest radio ads, maybe TV ads as well for Pederson that he's trying to beat that drum. He's basically saying gee, if you like what's going on with President Bush, if you like what's going on in Iraq, then vote for Jon Kyl.

Paul Giblin:
Right. What you're seeing is the both campaigns started out kind of narrow, both talked about immigration law, values, each candidate's values. Then they went all over the place, bringing in victims' rights and abortion rights. Now they're narrowing down again. Pederson is going to bring home the war message, talk about the war, saying it's a bad war, if you don't like it, vote for me. Kyl is going back to immigration. He's going to talk about immigration and present himself as a better alternative for that issue.

Michael Grant:
You know the amazing thing is the money here from both sides up around $28 million. That's enough money that you can do, oh, like running polling and figuring out in the last couple of weeks what issues are going to work and what issues are not and a whole lot of other stuff.

Paul Giblin:
You can do a lot with that money. Its $28.4 million combined and I did some quick figuring. It's hard to figure out how many are going to vote on that race, but I went back four years to the last statewide election that wasn't a presidential election. The number I came up with was $22.70 per vote, how much both are spending, $22.70 per vote. A lot of money for either campaign. Kyl has the most, $14.7 million, and Pederson is not far behind, at $13.7 million.

Mike Sunnucks:
Put in $10 million of his own?

Paul Giblin:
$10.3 million of his own. Interesting though, in the last two weeks he's put in $2 million, but just a loan. Previously he was just giving his campaign money. But the last 2mil is a loan.

Mike Sunnucks:
And the republicans stress the 9/11 terrorism issue and really try to press the dems on you guys aren't strong enough to protect us and don't have the will to win in Iraq, even though people are disgusted they'll hammer home on that and see if the dems can respond.

Paul Giblin:
I see Kyl shying away from that.

Mike Sunnucks:
They talk about Iraq being the central front in the war on terror and we can't afford to lose.

Mike Sunnucks:
That's what they say at their speaking engagements but at home I think we'll see Kyl talk more about immigration.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of things senatorial, Barack Obama, rock star of the Democratic Party.

Howard Fischer:
Exactly. And the timing was very interesting because just the day before, he had admitted that, well, maybe I am looking at running for president. Of course, you know, he has said all along, and it's true, every U.S. senator gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror and sees a presidential candidate. Is he viable two years from now, a guy with only two years in the senate right now? Of course not. He knows that. But he knows the extent that he puts his name out on the stage, he knows to the extent that perhaps somebody's going to need a balancing person on a ticket, perhaps vice presidential, even if he's only looking somewhere down the road at 2012, something like that. I think that's what he's looking at. The other thing it does, it makes him more valuable in terms of what he's already doing, raising money for other democrats, to the extent people see here's Barack Obama out here. I want to go and see him, raise money for the democrats. That builds him up a lot of loyalty.

Paul Giblin:
Howie, you're wrong. He is a viable candidate and here's why. If he were to hang around for eight more years or something, he would have a nice long record people can pick at and say he's voted against everything because in eight years he will have voted both for and against everything. With two years record, he's pretty clean. He can run.

Mike Sunnucks:
You're both wrong. The media is looking for someone interesting, the anti-Hillary. Mark Warner dropped out, the rest of the senators, Kerry, Biden, Edwards, they've been around and people are tired of them.

Paul Giblin:
I don't know why you invite these guys on the program. You're not helping the viewers at all.

Howard Fischer:
People want experience, foreign policy experience. He's got bupkus, nothing, the State Legislature of Illinois, despite the fact they're crossing Canada, does not do it. So he recognizes him limitations. Another piece is the votes he does have right now are probably very close to John Kerry's, so he needs to modify his voting record. So is he viable two years from now? Not going to happen.

Michael Grant:
At the risk of returning this to like the current time frame, this is weird. Now, let me get this straight. Someone from the Napolitano campaign stole brochures from the Republican Party or so it is alleged?

Mike Sunnucks:
It's a very convoluted story, Andy and the campaign came up and requested state matching funds from the clean elections commission for a mailer they had received at their office, the mailer criticized Janet on the 9/11 Memorial. The clean elections folks sent a letter to the Republican Party, asking about this mailer. The republicans said we never sent the mailer out so there was a big media circus today with republicans asking where did Janet's campaign get the mailer. They brought all the media out to this mobile mini storage unit where there was some missing mail pieces out of a mail bag that was unlocked, show the it to us, they filed a police report.

Michael Grant:
Was this like Geraldo Rivera?

Mike Sunnucks:
There were a few more things in there than Al Capone's tomb. Janet's campaign says well, somebody dropped it off anonymously at our campaign office, turned it over to their general counsel and they don't know where they got it from. It was a gift from the tooth fairy.

Howard Fischer:
And the fact is that despite the fact that Garrett Taylor, flack for the party, said somebody from Janet's campaign must have taken it, we looked at this storage unit. There's no sign of a break-in. Looked at the lock. No sign the lock was picked. The fact is he's so stupid this lock that he says may have been picked; he's holding it in his hands getting his own fingerprints all over it. It's just as easy and plausible that one of the people who actually works for the Republican Party or is a contractor for the Republican Party has a key and may have done it. It may even be that when the thing came back from the printer, it didn't have that one in it and somebody lost it there. It's much more convenient to say somehow Janet's people did it. It doesn't wash.

Michael Grant:
So it's entirely possible we shouldn't wait for any indictments and a police report?

Howard Fischer:
I'm guessing the police came out and probably said to the Republican Party, you know, there's some real crimes occurring in the city.

Mike Sunnucks:
Lot of crime occurring in the city.

Howard Fischer:
Let me see if I got this straight. You lost two pieces of paper out of 181,000, pages that you say you didn't intend to mail and we should stop the presses?

Mike Sunnucks:
You point out this all happened because Janet's people asked for matching funds on a mailer they thought went out. If they hadn't requested this, this wouldn't be an issue. If we didn't have clean elections and they hadn't come to the state looking for taxpayer money, this wouldn't be an issue. People forward these mailers all the time.

Michael Grant:
Here's the more interesting question though. Were they permanently going to shelve this mailing or?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think because of various rules related to clean elections they had mentioned some other candidates along with Len Munsil in this thing.

Howard Fischer:
But here's the deal. This comes back to what we discussed. Generally speaking parties can send out slate cards, with three candidates mentioned there. Were three mentioned although it was really a screw you piece at Janet. We all know that. They recognized after the early clean elections commission meeting if they sent that out now, Janet would get matching funds. I can't help but believe that perhaps next Friday you send it out, okay, Janet comes in Monday, says I want matching funds. What good is it then?

Mike Sunnucks:
Not like the democrats aren't going to send out mailers at the end, everybody gains the system, absolutely.

Michael Grant:
What happened to the debate between J.D. Hayworth and Harry Mitchell?

Mike Sunnucks:
They've had a number of debates, pretty nasty. They go after each other pretty hard. J.D.'s full force on immigration, on defending Iraq, on saying Harry Mitchell will raise your taxes. Mitchell has responded by pointing out some of Hayworth's ethics challenges and pointing to the need for change among the electorate, along the same lines as Pederson and Kyl. It's one of the more contentious races; polls show it very close right now.

Paul Giblin:
That was a good debate. I was there as well. And J.D., as he does for everything, he's a 10 on everything. But I think Mitchell is better now. He's used to it. Before he used to get more ruffled. He was almost amused, laughing at Hayworth at some points when he was saying he's going to raise your taxes, and he was back there laughing at Hayworth.

Mike Sunnucks:
The big challenge for Harry is whether -- how much he can carry in Scottsdale. He's obviously well-known in Tempe, but Scottsdale's a republican bastion and J.D.'s well-known up there and works that area of his district very hard and that's the challenge. I don't know if he can get enough crossover republican votes to win that race.

Michael Grant:
Obviously Harry Mitchell counting on the Tempe base and that's part of the fly that's flying around the set here.

Mike Sunnucks:
Certainly Obama from the Obama campaign.

Michael Grant:
Let's break off that point. Fly broke my line of concentration. Getting right back on it, I find this mistake in relation to the early childhood development proposition as to whether or not it's .8 cents per pack or 80 cents per pack to be absolutely fascinating.

Howard Fischer:
It's a little overblown story because while the secretary of state perhaps in printing this thing put in parentheses .08 cents, as opposed to 80 cents on the sample ballots and on the ballots that are in fact going to be there, because it's the same wording, the initiative very clearly says this is a tax of 4 cents per cigarette. Therefore, 20 cigarettes in a pack, 80 cents. Will somebody challenge it? Of course.

Michael Grant:
That's the actual file language.

Howard Fischer:
That's the actual file language.

Michael Grant:
So the error has occurred in the ballot printing.

Howard Fischer:
Appears to have occurred in the ballot printing. It's possible on their explanation they also had the decimal point in there. But clearly it says 4 cents a pack. That doesn't mean the Philip Morris Company which has suddenly taken an interest in this won't come in and challenge it. But it says 4 cents per cigarette.

Mike Sunnucks:
Doesn't help our ranking as the dumbest state when we can't get the ballot language right on the ballot question.

Michael Grant:
It's interesting, Howie, I think you pointed out, this gets proofread by the attorney general's office and.

Howard Fischer:
And Secretary of State. So basically having the state's top lawyer and the state's top election officer reading it is not exactly a testament to either of them.

Michael Grant:
What about on the eminent domain proposition, one of the world's largest public records requests about what governments have been doing against the eminent domain proposition?

Howard Fischer:
The measure does two things, not so much the eminent domain provisions cities object to because the court said you can't take private land for private purposes. It's the provision that says if you enact any land use regulation that diminishes somebody's property values, they get to take to you court. That will tie everything up. Now, city officials are against it. So the proponents are convinced that somehow city officials are quietly working behind the scenes and sending out messages designed to affect the election, so they basically blasted these e-mails to make public records request for all the other e-mails that city officials have sent. Are these e-mails public record? Sure. Is it a fishing expedition? Of course. Are they going to find something in there they think is going to make a difference? Perhaps if one or two cities respond they may say look this shows that this politician was saying people should vote against prop 207. Is this a little bit of a late attempt for a measure that's probably going to pass anyway? Sure.

Mike Sunnucks:
You got a really interesting politically disparate coalition against this thing. The local mayors, economic development groups, developers, environmentalists and even labor unions on the no side. The yes side is your property rights advocates, and I think it's going to pass also.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of passing or not passing, one of the other prop questions we pulled on last weekend was gay marriage one and it was going down.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, you had 56 to 30, which surprised people, that much of a spread. Most other polls had it close either way. I think it will be a close race. A lot of folks will just look at the first part of the ballot measure, the ban on same-sex marriages and you'll see a lot of people vote for a ban because of that. But the second ban is what the no people are focusing on. That would prohibit domestic partner benefits.

Howard Fischer:
That's the key, because the poll question that was asked by the Channel 8 Poll specifically spelled out that schools, cities, counties, and universities will not be able to offer domestic partner benefits. You're going to get they fly yet, aren't you? But the other poll question which showed 107 passing specifically stick to the ballot language which talks about marriage and its benefits. And again, Mike's point is right. To the extent people see this about gay marriage, it passes. To the extent they're convinced it goes beyond the plain language and deals with domestic partner benefits, it goes down.

Paul Giblin:
That's a real credit to the people advertising that. To get people to understand that, that's a tough job.

Mike Sunnucks:
This has passed in every other state.

Michael Grant:
The most wildly popular thing in 2004.

Michael Grant:
State Treasurer David Peterson this week entering a guilty plea for failing to report earnings from the sale of character-building materials to school districts. As part of the plea deal Peterson will resign from the treasurer's office. Howie, I thought the attorney general was pretty candid in saying that really most of the charges against David Peterson did not pan out.

Howard Fischer:
Well, this is the fascinating thing. We got a look at the search warrants last February. They suggested conflicts of interest, using his influence to sell these character programs. They suggested financial mismanagement. They suggested schemes to defraud. And they basically did a financial colonoscopy on the guy and game up with bupkus. So what did they come up with? Is that a technical legal term. It's in third year law school? We'll get you back in continuing legal education on that one. What they came up with is that Peterson got $4,200 worth of commissions from the sale of these things. The sale was legal. Public law says that if you're an elected official you must report all sources of income of at least a thousand dollars, you also must report if you serve on any boards and he was on the boards of some nonprofits so what they got him on was largely a technical violation. $4,200 worth of income for a guy making $70,000 a year as his salary. David said you got me. Okay. That's fine. But as a condition he said I'll plead to the crime and he said you're not only going to plead to the crime, we'll force you to resign. Here's a guy out of office anyway December 31st, but they're going to say between now and December 31st when he's actually sentenced by Judge Keppel he actually has to quit.

Michael Grant:
So you have to fill the office of state treasurer, well, max maybe six weeks, perhaps a month. Speculation increased at all on who the governor will drop in there?

Howard Fischer:
She only says she's got two or three people she's considering. You've got to find somebody who's just willing to go in and be a caretaker. Clearly there's an election coming up, Dean Martin, Republican, Ron Osing, Democrat, by the time Peterson resigns, we're going to know who wins, but the law says that if martin wins, he can't take it even though he's a republican, because he's still in his term as a legislator and if the democrat wins she can't take it because the replacement has to be republican like Peterson.

Mike Sunnucks:
All indications Barton led in the polls, showed him ahead, got name I.D. and she's fairly unknown.

Michael Grant:
All right. Now, speaking of allegations and charges and things like that, story breaking on Congressman Rick Renzi. Mike, we don't know a lot about it. Do we know enough to figure out whether or not the story has many legs or not at this point?

Mike Sunnucks:
There's been numerous media reports on this; the democrats have been shopping this story around. Basically Renzi was somewhat involved on the hill with a land swap deal in Southern Arizona with a former business partner which he sold different shares of his venture to him. This guy came back with a land swap deal that's never occurred. But there's questions about Renzi's behavior related to this. And so basically what we know now, it's a preliminary inquiry. There's no subpoenas, there's no grand jury. There's nothing beyond that. There's been some complaints made to the U.S. Attorney and the Justice Department. They're kind of doing their due diligence and just looking into it. The republicans say this is just kind of an election year trick done by the democrats in this race and other races.

Michael Grant:
Another October surprise.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yes, just to put the specter over Renzi. So there's nothing yet, but they're still looking into it.

Paul Giblin:
Only a few weeks ago president bush was here doing a fundraiser for Renzi and we were all asking why bother, this guy's seat is as secure as they come and look what happens two weeks later.

Mike Sunnucks:
On the other side the republicans are questioning whether Simon's disclosed all her assets. Her husband is involved in some child support dispute from a previous marriage back in Canada and they're requesting some inquiries into that. So that race has turned very nasty and negative in the past few weeks.

Howard Fischer:
I think it was the nastiest campaign ad this season, which suggested because Ellen Simon headed the ACLU, therefore she supported men having sex with boys because one of the ACLU's clients was NAMBLA, National Man Boy Love Association, never mind they represented every disadvantaged group as per the first amendment.

Mike Sunnucks:
I the Renzi -- I don't want to call it an investigation, you call the Justice Department or U.S. Attorney's Office, they are not going to comment, don't wouldn't at that taint the case, so it looks like there's a story there, when there might not be.

Michael Grant:
Now, we've talked about the Kyl Pederson race, clearly. We've talked about maybe a race going on with J.D. Hayworth and Harry Mitchell. We talked about this activity in the Renzi and Simon race. The big question, we've also talked about the poll that indicated maybe we throw the bums out, seems to me that one of the large sort of big questions of this election cycle is does this become like 94, where the republicans take control or maybe 74 when the public kicks back from Watergate or not?

Howard Fischer:
I think more I think less here in Arizona than a lot of Arizona democrats would like to think. I don't quite frankly see Kyl being defeated. J.D. is excellent as you point out on the stump. I mean, he's on all the time. Renzi, the latest publicity may hurt but ready to replace him with an ACLU lawyer?

Michael Grant:
Polls still indicate a double digit lead.

Howard Fischer:
But the poll was taken obviously before a lot of this thing. On a national level there are some interesting seats, and the fact it's gotten nasty, we found out just today in terms of the Alan race in Virginia, his democratic foe had written novels with sexually graphic scenes, I mean, this is just getting silly.

Paul Giblin:
If you talk to the locals here, they talk about that surge or that avalanche. These are the words associated with it. Both on the democratic side and republican side. They're both well aware of a surge building out there. And they're wondering how big it's going to be in Arizona. Of course the democrats want it to be huge, over 5\% probably push a couple of their candidates into the "w" column. And the republicans are hoping it's less than that so that they can keep their seats.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the Republicans are more optimistic the past week or so, the Mark Foley things faded and they feel more confident on security in terrorism.

Michael Grant:
All right. Panelists, we are out of time. Thank you very much. Our thanks to the fly too.

Mike Sunnucks:
He did a good job.

Larry Lemmons:
Women may constitute more than fifty percent of the population, but they're underrepresented in political office. We take a look at what both local republicans and democrats are doing to get women more involved in the political process and a history of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Monday night at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Tuesday we'll talk about changes in voting as you get ready to get to the polls. Wednesday, we'll give you a glimpse at the Phoenix Art Museum Expansion. Thursday, is a debate between the two candidates running for State Treasurer. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Goodbye.

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