Stories to Watch: Ted Simons on Election 2016

As host of “Arizona Horizon,” Ted Simons has a unique vantage point – he gets to meet Arizona leaders and ask them the questions we all want answered. How does that inform his perspective on this election year? Read on – and this time we’re asking the questions, Ted.

Q: What do you expect to be the big stories for Arizona this election season?
A: Right now, Trump is the presumptive candidate – but how much support will Republicans give him? That impacts down-ticket races in a traditionally Republican state like Arizona. How much would a Trump candidacy affect Senator John McCain’s re-election bid? And how does that volatility impact the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who could be the calm within the storm and become the first Democrat since her husband to win Arizona? How will other Arizona races and issues be affected? Those are the stories to watch.

Q: Which Arizona U.S. Congressional districts are shaping up to be a close race?
A: A couple of races: The 5th Congressional District could be a good fight to replace retiring Rep. Matt Salmon. State Senate
President Andy Biggs was Salmon’s immediate choice to succeed, but former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley and state Rep. Justin Olson could make things interesting.

And the 1st Congressional District is a doozy, replete with seven Republican candidates, including a former Arizona Secretary of State, the current House Speaker, the Sheriff of Pinal County and a state senator who could become the first Navajo in U.S. history to serve in Congress. A candidate who used to be a Republican is now heading the field of Democrats. You need a scorecard to keep ‘em all straight.

Q: What are the chances that we’ll see a repeat of the long lines at polling places in November?
A: I doubt very seriously that we’ll see excessively long lines or other voting problems in November like we did in March. Too many people – including the U.S. Justice Department – are keeping an eye on things.

Q: What do you enjoy most about hosting the Clean Elections debates?
A: I really do enjoy hosting political debates. Our more conversational exchanges are a great opportunity for voters to see a candidate unscripted and to see how that candidate handles face-to-face and sometimes hostile differences of opinion. My job is to keep things moving – no filibusters – and make sure that all sides get a fair shake.

Q: In your years of covering elections, how has the tone of campaigns changed over time?
A: It might sound odd, but I honestly think things have toned down a bit overall. The last election cycle didn’t see as many red faces and furrowed brows from Arizona office-seekers.

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