Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight -- Mary Jo Pitzl of "The Arizona Republic," Jim Small of "The Arizona Capitol Times," and "The Arizona Republic's" Doug Maceachern.

Ted Simons: The federal government sues Arizona over the state's new immigration law. Let's talk about what the suit claims and take it from there.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Fundamentally, the lawsuit says that the state's S.B. 1070 intrudes on federal control of immigration laws. Immigration is a federal issue and the state should not be involved, leave it alone and let the federals take care of it. As a less relative issue, they talk a little bit about racial profiling but the issue is really one of preempting the federal authority.

Ted Simons: The idea of patchwork of laws was mentioned as well. It didn't mention racial profiling but the supremacy clause, big deal.

Jim Small: Yeah, The federal government is the one that would have their authority taken away by the state and you're right. All of the other suits focus on the racial profile aspect and this one doesn't and some say that's because the Obama administration doesn't believe it does any racial profile. Whether it does or doesn't, I don't know But statements from staff say they do think that is a problem.

Doug Maceachern: It's a hard standard and of the two, that would be the most difficult but it is the one that most of the laws critics have been pointing to, saying once it's enforced that's going to be the problem with it. That the police will be singling out Hispanics.

Jim Small: This may be the key, this law is not in force yet so some of those claims about racial profiling may be difficult to prove. That was the thing we saw with the sanctions lawsuit a couple years ago. They argued this is going to keep businesses from hiring minorities and Hispanic workers and the judge said, well, that's well and good but you can't prove that's happened so wait until the law goes into effect. If it happens, come back and that's another case.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That's why going with the preemption argument makes sense, you can argue that that's already occurred, if you believe in that. As Jim pointed out, this is their domain so who better to press that case than the federal government.

Doug Maceachern: On the other hand, the argument, counter to that are compelling in their own right. How many federal law do we have against things like robbing a bank and how many state laws -- how many state police enforce those laws?

Ted Simons: The idea of federal immigration law -- and we had chief Jack Harris talking about this because that is where he has a problem. If it's a civil offense and if you've got it as a criminal offense, that dynamic puts law enforcement officers, you know, darned if you do and darned if you don't situation.

Doug Maceachern: Honestly, Ted, if my expectation and this -- I'm sort of rolling this one out. I don't think there's going to be a whole lot of arrests on this. I -- there have been before this issue became so galvanizing with the -- with Arizona's new law, but -- and previously, before it became this -- this tense debate, states like Rhode Island, for example, police have been for years, in 2006, at least, have been routinely sending people that they suspect are illegal immigrants off to ICE. And so as a matter of fact, there's a debate -- as the debate flowers, we're seeing a lot of states in various ways, including, I think, California in some places, applying these laws. But the sensational aspect of Arizona's new law has changed the dynamic.

Ted Simons: You mentioned a lot of states paying attention. Was that the impetus of the Justice Department getting involved? Back to the patchwork idea. You can't have Texas deciding that their immigration policy will be this. Especially when foreign and humanitarian issues as well. It's under the federal purview.

Jim Small: Well, I think that is kind of the rub here. Is it Arizona enforcing a separate immigration policy or enforcing the nation's immigration policy at a local level and going after law breakers and turning them over to the feds who would then handle it? I think it gets down to the nut of the argument.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The patch work argument is a response to the fact that this has uncorked a lot of interest in other states to do something similar to 1070. Last week in Utah House speaker Kirk Adams took down to the border by Douglas and met with the widow of rancher Krentz, who was killed in late March -- I think it was late March. As Utah is studying what it can do to mimic 1070.

Ted Simons: Other lawsuits have been filed. Does this add heft? What does it do to a pretty crowded field, courtrooms coming up?

Doug Maceachern: It centralizes the issue, whether or not they all get -- they're not all going to get put together, but nevertheless, it's a federal government issue with the Arizona law that's going to take precedence. That will be the defining --

Mary Jo Pitzl: And it will have the first hearing on the 22nd before judge Susan Bolton. The federal suit was originally assigned to a different judge but Bolton moved to it put in her court so all of the cases are consolidating in front of her and there's a request to put cameras in the courtroom, which the fed don't do. But boy, if there's a case that would be a must-see TV, this would be.

Ted Simons: The supporters of 1070 say bring it on. Court challenges to the Arizona immigration law. The state seems to survive. In the past, they think they'll survive now. What are you seeing out there, as far as both sides in what impression are you getting as far as they see their chances?

Jim Small: I think both sides think they're going to win. I don't think I've talked to anyone on either side that thinks they've got a loser of a case. The Democrats and the legislature are making very much the same arguments you see coming out from DOJ and A lot of the groups suing over this law. They were making that back in February and March, when the bill was moving through the legislature. At the same time, russel pierce and others who helped craft it are confident they wrote it in a way that prevents it from being deemed unconstitutional as they try to match up with federal law where they could and believed that inherently, the state has the right to do this.

Ted Simons: Doug, what are you hearing? It seems the supporters are saying we're just mirroring federal law and the opponents saying this is where this defies the constitution or statute. What are hearing?

Doug Maceachern: I think it comes down to application. Just the question -- the question that everybody keeps falling back on, whether or not the federal government is actually applying its law as it's supposed to. And so I think a lot of the debate in the courtroom will center around whether the feds are doing their job. But -- and conversely, whether or not the state has the right to do that job.

Ted Simons: Can you do that, though, Mary Jo? If Texas decide that's America is not doing a good enough job in Afghanistan, can Texas mirror American law and go fight a war if I mean, how far do you take something like this?

Mary Jo Pitzl: I'm not a legal expert but I think this case, the outcome of it might answer that question, at least on some of these issues where states are trying to do the responsibility that is the feds -- that belong to the feds.

Ted Simons: Donations to defend the immigration law. What do we have? $500,000 coming in already?

Jim Small: That thing has skyrocketed. About three weeks agi We requested the documents and they had like $19,000 and almost immediately it doubled. Once they got a little bit of media attention, it doubled up to almost $50,000 and since the lawsuit was filed by DOJ on Tuesday, they've gotten more than $150,000 in two days. Tuesday and Wednesday, a total of $300,000, $150,000 each day. Just in donations, almost all of it through the website that the governor set up to do this. I think for them, it's been a resounding success.

Doug Maceachern: It's interesting how this developed to a parallel to Sarah Palin semi, DEMI campaign since she stopped being governor of Alaska. She started making, getting, All sorts of contributions to her fund. And as odd as it seems to those of us in Arizona who have known Jan Brewer forever, she's approaching that certain of rock star status on the political side of the ledger. Nationally, in a way that you just would never have expected to see happen to, you know, a -- a pretty low-Key West side legislator. [Laughter]

Ted Simons: Politicians around the country are asking for her endorsement. Wanting her on political ads and these things and yet, she's going to have to -- she went ahead and canceled the border conference with border governors. And what does it mean when the governors of New Mexico and California say you can't unilaterally cancel this and we'll hold it regardless.

Mary Jo Pitzl: They don't have elections this year, is mostly what it says but also could suggest they are concerned about some of the economic development ties between their states and Mexico. There's a lot of trade that goes back and forth, legitimate trade that helps the economy in New Mexico -- actually in Arizona as well but we're going to give that a pass, at least for this year.

Ted Simons: We want to get back to immigration subject here in a second. But I want to talk about Dean Martin, the governor campaign. He has suspended it. I guess didn't say it's over, but it's over.

Jim Small: Yeah, I mean, if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck. For all intents and purpose, he's ending his campaign. He might be calling it suspending it but I don't think anyone sees him coming back into this. We're still Two weeks away from early ballot. He's Still going to be on the ballot. I think that's why he's saying he's suspending it because he can't actually remove himself from the ballot. Everyone saw it coming, from the polls it people saw the fact that it doesn't look like anyone is going to beat Brewer. The timing was weird. Just got clean elections money. Just got signs that went up all over the state. We were talking to campaign folks who said they were going to have a soft grand opening tomorrow morning and obviously that's not going to happen.

Ted Simons: Was this a surprise?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Anything that happens in the newsroom in the middle of a Friday afternoon is a surprise, yes, and not a welcome one. I mean, first I was a little surprised by it. What's there to lose? He's got his clean elections funding, as Jim said, the signs just went up. And ok. So the polls weren't looking good. But you go and fight the good fight. What else do you have to do?

Jim Small: You get $700,000 that you can build your name for 2012 when I would assume he'll be back and running for something.

Doug Maceachern: Ted, we try to get this debate away from the immigration question but we really don't because until she signed 1070, Jan Brewer was running well behind the rest of the candidates on the Republican side and Dean Martin had as good a chance as anybody.

Ted Simons: Was it a mistake on his part -- this is conjecture -- for not immediately jumping no the immigration debate with vim and vigor. It seemed he was a frontrunner for a while. Some polls have him below Buz Mills now.

Doug Maceachern: When you get corporation commission candidates suddenly trying to horn in on the immigration debate as if it were relevant, yeah, it suddenly becomes apparent that dean might have made some miscalculations.

Jim Small: What could he have done? He wasn't the incumbent governor. He didn't get the chance to sign 1070. She should be sending Russell Pearce a Christmas card the rest of his life. Because him pushing that bill and getting it to her desk is really what is going to get her elected regardless of how many opponests there are..

Ted Simons: Couldn't he have gotten in front of the parade a little bit, muscled his way toward the front --

Mary Jo Pitzl: He did the press conference how he was going to house illegals in tent city. That stage was flooded and owned by Jan Brewer and to a somewhat lesser extent, Russell Pearce and John Kavanagh and others who would go on national television to talk about it.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about that stage. If it's going to be hers, she'll be sharing it shortly with Terry Goddard. He calls for ditch the boycott. And calls on the president to don't sue. The president sues anyway. How is this playing?

Doug Maceachern: I think it's troubling for Terry. He's approached this issue as honorably as anyone can. From the beginning, he's been captured between political reality and what he really feels. And I think he's been very forthright about how he feels about 1070 and what the problems are. On the other hand, as attorney general, he's been captured in simply doing his duty. Now, he's got -- the problems simply don't go away which troubling for a democratic candidate running for governor. It would benefit if the congressman would quit it with the boycott stuff. But the problems keep cropping up for Terry.

Ted Simons: Are Democrats upset generally with Grijalva?

Jim Small: None of them are going to come out and say it I think. Terry Goddard did take a bold step by coming out and saying that and it really did kind of get him back into the spotlight and not in a -- he doesn't want to defend the law way like we'd seen for the past couple weeks. But the thing with Grijalva, he is in a very safe district for re-election this year, he's not going to lose., a lot of people think him to be a little bit off in his own, he will act on his own, not necessarily with the rest of the party.

Ted Simons: In general, 1070, what is it doing to tells both in state races and congressional races and such and what -- I know you wrote about Republicans and how it's shaping that particular campaign. Overall, what are you seeing out there?

Mary Jo Pitzl: It's a deflating effect for a lot of Democrats. Everybody running for legislature in congress, up for election this year and they all look at the polls. People like this law. So it appears to be somewhat deflating and they're trying to find a way to thread the needle on that. In other states, we've seen Harry Reid thinking this is a ticket to winning the election. Because He'll get a lot of Latinos.

Ted Simons: Is there a feeling that In the short term, 1070 and the debate helps or hurts Republicans?

Doug Maceachern: There's -- there is an interesting argument about whether or not 1070 is ultimately going to be Arizona's prop 187 like it was in California where after prop 187 passed and the other one, 209 or whatever it was, essentially anti-immigrant legislation there, had a pretty crushing or read to have a pretty crushing effect on Republicans in California. They haven't had any statewide success except for Arnold Schwarzenegger. And there are those parallels and it's a possibility. It's hard to read long term, but Hispanics are going to continue to be a growing part of the electorate in Arizona and if you pick them off, I think you'll have problems, yeah.

Ted Simons: We mentioned Dean Martin, I mentioned jumping front of the parade. He might have gotten trampled. But the other side, Goddard coming out and saying don't sue Arizona and going after Grijalva and takes a second spot to no one when enforcing illegal immigration issues like gangs and cartels. Anyone listening?

Doug Maceachern: I'm punting. What do you think.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think the faithful, but that's not who needs to hear it. No, it just seems like a lot is getting drowned out and he's trying to get his voice heard but you've got the ongoing controversies over the law itself and the spotlight has been on the governor.

Ted Simons: Criticizing the governor for certain things and Goddard, why should we have to put P.R. statements out because of what a governor says. Is this getting traction? Are you hearing sounds like the Goddard campaign is revving up?

Jim Small: They're starting to be more proactive. They've been really criticized up to this point for being reactive and sitting back and taking the position, we're going to let Brewer and the Republicans beat each other up and come in at the end. I think they're starting to gear up a little bit. Mary Jo is right. It's early. It's laying the groundwork for what we're doing to see August, October, November and coming into the November election.

Ted Simons: Quickly here, Boyd Dunn quits the county attorney's race and says the morale was bad and now it's better so there's no need for me. Something along these lines?

Doug Maceachern: I've known him for a long time and I was shocked to learn he was an attorney. Who knew? He's been known as mayor of Chandler. And it's only recently that most of us discovered that he's had a legal practice. So -- no, he -- he was -- he's up against two prosecutors. He just fervor got any traction.

Ted Simons: I was going to say -- he just never got any traction. We've got Rick Romley saying he's going to prosecute and suggest enforcing 1070 if immigration comes a certain way. How does that play in that particular primary.

Doug Maceachern: Person personally, I think that's the most interesting Republican primary contest out there for that reason. Because Romley now as he gets closer is making the point, yeah, I'm going to enforce the law and running down that road. But when he first got his job back, he was very clearly known as somebody that did not approve of that law. Saw that as very problematic and, in fact, some of his legal analysis has determined they've done a pretty good job of laying out what the problem is going to be for prosecutors enforcing it.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Even more interesting than the attorney general's primary. That one has similar dynamics there.

Doug Maceachern: It does. But romley has had the louder voice. I've been fascinated with how fourth right he's been. I've been fascinating how Romley has been.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Ok. Will there -- guesswork here. Do you think there's going to be an injunction before the end of July? What do you think?

Jim Small: Boy, you know, I -- I got my law degree from law and order on TV before it got canceled so I don't know how to answer that. They're asking for it and we have to wait to see what the arguments are going to be in court. I think that's going to be telling and maybe we'll be able it get a sense of how the judge is receiving each of those arguments.

Ted Simons: As far as legal experts you're talking to and the general -- it's impossible to tell, isn't it?

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think it's impossible to tell. I think we have to wait to see what the judge does and who knows that will go right up to the edge of the enactment of the law.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Doug Maceachern: I'm not lawyer either, but my wife is. [Laughter] And I'll -- my expectation is that there will be a stay and whatever the decision is, it's going to -- it's going to be challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court and I think it will happen quickly.

Ted Simons: If there's a stay, help our hurt the juggernaut on the Republican side for Brewer?

Doug Maceachern: I would have thought the stay would come quickly but I would have thought it would make the issue sort of go away, that's not going to happen, though.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think it will helpful. Contributions to the defense fund will
soar again.

Jim Small: Yeah, no, I agree. Especially among Republicans and independents who
lean Republican. I think this is going to be -- this is just going to embolden and solidify the resolve against the opposition to the law and the Obama administration as well.

Ted Simons: Very good. Stop it right there. Good show.

Mary Jo Pitzl:The Arizona Republic;Jim Small:The Arizona Capitol Times;Doug Maceachern:The Arizona Republic;

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