Journalists’ Roundtable

More from this show

Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Dennis Welch of "The Arizona Guardian." Mike Sunnucks of "The Phoenix Business Journal." And Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio. Jerry Lewis submits signatures for the Russell Pearce recall election. How many did he need? How many did he submit?

Dennis Welch: A little over 600 and he got with twice that many. Another step in the process, looks like there's a recall and the open question to be answered is the legal challenge, the actual recall. But it looks like there's going to be a November recall.

Ted Simons: And looks like he's going to be there. I think at this particular submission of signatures he said S.B. 1070 was a quote good start. Just basically he's not Russell Pearce?

Mike Sunnucks: I think that's how he's going to run it. The opponents will bring up over stuff that's gone on with him and as a Republican, you have to be conservative on immigration. You can't be for amnesty or something halfway and can't be against 1070. That's a tough go if you're trying to get Republican votes. I think he'll cut the difference and say that 1070 is a start and who knows what his exact stance is. The provisions or the whole bill.

Dennis Welch: He told me he was a supporter of what is known as the Utah compact which would support it by the LDS church, up in Utah and called for more moderated positions on immigration. Against anything that would break up the family and these things and he's definitely, I think a lot more moderate on immigration than Russell Pearce was.

Mike Sunnucks: The church's stance, it's probably going to stay neutral. But when Lewis brings those things up, it's a subtle hint I'm with the church and the church is with me and maybe they're not with Russell.

Steve Goldstein: But he's acted as a teacher, and will come across as a nice mild mannered guy. I learned from Jerry Lewis. He made me a human being. No one will say that about Russell Pearce.

Ted Simons: How far does he go to show how conservative and similar he is in terms of policy to Russell Pearce?

Steve Goldstein: If he has good advisors he won't talk about immigration he'll emphasize the fact that Russell Pearce should have been focused on the economy, he was a former appropriations chair, why wasn't he focused on that? If he goes down the immigration path, it's going to set off fireworks.

Dennis Welch: I couldn't agree more. You have to play to your strengths and going at 1070, the immigration debate, Mr. Pearce is going to win that every time. The voters have shown time and time again, they support that kind of policy.

Mike Sunnucks: I think the question is what kind of campaign does Lewis have? The money and resources and the advisors that will lead him down the right path. He's got enough signatures but getting from there to November and running a campaign against Russell who knows how to run campaigns in Republican districts.

Dennis Welch: And Lewis' job got tougher. Another candidate offered himself up as the libertarian choice, which is interesting because in that race, you have a couple of Republicans and new a libertarian in the mix who is opposed to 1070. And this gives a place for those who don't like 1070 to go and makes it harder -- and we talked about splitting the anti-Russell Pearce in that district and that goes to that goal.

Steve Goldstein: The idea of flooding the field and there's time for that to happen and I wouldn't be surprised as Mike said, Russell Pearce knows how to run campaigns and they'll try to do what they can to make it convoluted.

Ted Simons: An appeals court fast tracking it. As soon as possible?

Dennis Welch: Yeah, they have to get it done as soon as possible. November will be here sooner than you think and by all indications, it's not affecting the way they're going about their campaigns. The chances of them striking -- killing this election, this recall is I think slim.

Mike Sunnucks: Going to have low turnout and pretty much all of the races this November. How does that play? Does that help Russell or help Lewis? You've got to energize the anti-Pearce folks, maybe they turn out.
Ted Simons: The election costs, Howie Fischer, our friend, wrote about this and discovered some sort of constitutional provision that would -- what? -- allow for senator Pearce to request reimbursement of election costs? What's going on?

Dennis Welch: I find this to be highly ironic. First, we will say that after the election, if he -- if Mr. Pearce wins, he can request the legislature to, you know, decide whether he should be reimbursed for the costs incurred of running the recall election. I find it ironic he's in that position because this is a guy who repeatedly said he doesn't like the state's currently publicly funded finance system and opposes that. But if he does request that and he maintains his position as senate president, who is going to vote against it if he requests this election to be refunded?

Mike Sunnucks: I would think -- I think it's unlikely he'll request it. He's such a small government guy. He's against clean elections. It would go against his record. It smells bad to everybody. The legislature and Russell have enough P.R. problems to say reimburse me, I think --

Ted Simons: Would this be a situation where he doesn't necessarily have to ask vocally because it's up to the legislature apparently, deciding how much and when and -- hey! He survived, I think -- you know, wouldn't we see something like that.
Steve Goldstein: Can I add to the cynicism? Go back in history. Lawmakers decided to -- who came up with this idea in the first place -- let's protect ourselves if we're in a recall election?

Ted Simons: Any reaction from Pearce?

Dennis Welch: What's interesting in this whole thing is the two candidates, Jerry Lewis and Pearce have been in bunkers, they've been really quiet this whole time. It's unlike Pearce. We haven't gotten much reaction from him.

Mike Sunnucks: The thing about Pearce, he wants to avoid major mistakes. I think he thinks he can win this with his ground game, his name and he can send out the mailers and work the district and he doesn't want the national and local media glomming on and making a bigger story and digging something up that might turn the race.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about another race the Phoenix mayoral race and we'll get to the substance part, the debate Sunday but what in the world is going on with the smear campaign? What's this about?

Dennis Welch: Wednesday afternoon there were some anonymous recorded phone calls started going out to apparently women, Republican voters in Phoenix, and there was a claim that Mr. Gullett had an affair on his wife and impregnated another woman and, therefore, he cannot be trusted. The caller -- the call was not identified. As law requires if you put out a call like that, you have to identify who paid for it. Nobody knows who is behind it and it was a smear tactic by somebody in this race. Mr. Gullett called it outrage us, ridiculous and unethical and illegal.
Ted Simons: All four. In probably the same set

Steve Goldstein: How much does it sound like what John McCain went through in South Carolina, the idea that both he and Wes Gullett adopted girls from the same community who are not white. So is this another odd thing? I can't think, following this campaign, I can't imagine anyone else running in this campaign. They're friendly on the stage. Would someone really let an advisor do this?
Ted Simons: It seems odd to me. Who is going to go at home and go, I believe this, I'm not going to vote for Wes Gullett? I mean really?

Mike Sunnucks: I think it shows that he's a lot more stronger than we thought in the race. A lot of people think Stanton will be in the runoff and another candidate, Neely, Maddux or Gullett and the fact that they've gone after the fact he's a principle in the lobbying firm and he's going to stay a principle in the firm if he's elected. They've gone after him a lot. He's kind of been a target. Either his contingency is the key swing vote or Wes is seen as possibly number two.
Dennis Welch: On your point of who would believe this, I found interesting how they handle this. Unlike McCain in 2000, who let the questions fester, Gullett is out there right away. This is ridiculous. Lesson learned from 2000, don't let them fester, because they become believable.

Mike Sunnucks: He put a statement out on his website, he denied the charges, said he loved his wife and his children and one of his teenage daughters received this call and it makes it personal and he had a thing about how he's a Christian, and got that in there and he took advantage of it. I think he was adept in his response and what he said, because he comes across as a good family guy who has been attacked creates sympathy.
Ted Simons: Going back to who might be behind this, this is someone -- an operation that knows what it's doing. They had a bunch of targeted phone lists and, you know, you guys probably didn't get a call like that, but the focus group, they got them. This is relatively sophisticated.
Steve Goldstein: No question about it. I'm not going to say any names I think if we look at who runs certain campaigns and who's battling for second place, that might give us an idea.
Ted Simons: Even that, you got to be -- this is tough stuff here.

Dennis Welch: Yeah, I think if -- if -- I'm not convinced it was somebody, you know, with one of the other campaigns. It's to talk about, and speculate, that's just what it is, pure speculation.
Ted Simons: Sure.
Dennis Welch: It could be someone who doesn't like McCain. And Wes Gullett is tied with that. Wes Gullett has one run a lot of campaigns and you're in the business long enough, you make enemies.

Mike Sunnucks: We're not sure how many calls went out we're not sure. Claude Maddox filed a complaint too asking the city to look into this and coming to the aid of his rival,that makes him look good. But I think it elevates Gullett a little bit in the campaign. Puts his name out there, gets to say nice things about himself and he's the victim.
Steve Goldstein: But Gullet is the clear target. But Stanton is going to get at least 40% and in the runoff. And Gullett has put out the TV ads, the one with the money and let's knock him out of second place. The latest poll had Gullet and Neely neck and neck and Jennifer Wright actually behind them Claude Maddox a distant fifth.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about Jennifer not participating in this event -- first of all, why do we have four out of six.

Steve Goldstein: The Phoenix chamber of commerce was hosting the debate as of June 1st, they set a standard each campaign had to raise at least $50,000 to be eligible. I think Jennifer got in the race in late May, so she wouldn't have had enough time. And the chamber decided we're a private organization and with like to have people in we would like to have participant. So the fireworks were beforehand that Jennifer Wright and Anna Brennan weren't allowed in. And once the debate started it was back to the old clap trap.
Dennis Welch: I'll say this, I know KPHO was a cosponsor on the debate and a news station should have the public's best interests in mind and I don't think the public's best interests was served by keeping two people who qualified and followed the rules and qualified for the ballot should have been on the debate. Again, if it was just the chamber, if they bought the time, that's fine, you can have whoever you want. But this is a news organization that should have had the public's interests in mind.
Mike Sunnucks: I think Jennifer Wright is a big wild card in this race, she's a tea party activist, a little younger, women and could really split the vote with Neely on this and siphon votes from the other Republicans. She's the conservative candidate in this and run a grassroots campaign and maybe being excluded from the debate maybe helps her and being excluded from the debate elevates her. Not many people watched the debate so, no one can say that the candidates said other than they want more jobs, better schools and safe streets. I think that Jennifer has a chance.

Steve Goldstein: The most interesting part was when Wes Gullett was asked about his consulting firm and he was adamant saying I spent nine years building this up. And a couple of days later, Dennis I'll leave you with the conclusion.
Dennis Welch: He said he was going to divest his interest in his lobbying firm should he be elected. It's an issue they've been hammering him on. And getting back to the rob call, which was interesting, we started off the week with Gullett getting hammered in the email and his ties to the lobbying firm and this rob call changed that conversation in that respect and now all of a sudden we stopped talking about it and started talking about Wes Gullett the victim.

Ted Simons: Seems like Stanton and Maddox, the status quo is not bad and let's not trample on what we're got. And Gullett and Neely, we need change -- did anyone win or lose this thing?

Steve Goldstein: I'd be shocked to say that anyone won. Greg Stanton won by not making a huge mistake and kept his position in first place. There was nothing -- I hate to say there should have been an attack, there was nothing that set anyone apart. Claude Maddox came across as a very nice guy who liked to be on the council and thinks the council has done nice things. Wes Gullett, goes going to change the work on both sides and Peggy Neely came out of someone who voted for city north but now doesn't like developers.

Dennis Welch: Yeah I agree, there was no clear winner. There was no singular moment, that grabbed headlines or something like that but there clearly did emerge as you alluded to, two camps, one for the status quo and one that wanted to shake that status quo.

Mike Sunnucks: There's two races. Stanton, everybody thinks is going to be in the runoff. He's the democrat. He's going to get the democratic and liberal votes and the rest going in the Republican primary to try and win this and -- and there's a lot of dynamics. I think that Claude's biggest challenge is he doesn't come across as Republican. Backed by the firefighter union and a nice guy. But you don't look and think Republican like the others.

Steve Goldstein: One of the things I find interesting about this race, we cover congressional races and the gubernatorial race, between Goddard and Brewer. Phoenix being a large city -- Maricopa County is not center left. But the city of Phoenix is and it's going to have a race like this, where a guy like Stanton may be the favorite in November. Where he never would be if Maricopa County was voting.

Dennis Welch: It will be interesting to see, Once we have a runoff field, decided the number one and two. How the Republican party is going to handle it. Up to now, they're under the radar because you have Republicans running against Stanton at this point. But once it's a Republican-Democrat, even though it's non-partisan, where do they come down, where does the money go? How much can they raise? Because they've been competing with the same donors for the limited amount of money. When they get into this runoff election it's going to be just them.

Mike Sunnucks: I think to Steve's point, Republicans don't know how to run the campaign. Phoenix is moderate 42% Hispanic. It's not pro 1070, The can't run the high ground immigration race statewide and so they're having a tough time trying to figure out what do we go after Stanton with.

Dennis Welch: And this is why the Stanton campaign fears running against Gullett more than they would against anyone else. Because he's known as a Rhino, Republican in name only. And on the Republicans for Janet Napolitano back in 2006. He's a moderate Republican who doesn't have a history of being too extreme. So I think, you know, if you look at the field, if -- who do you least want to run against? I think it's Gullett.

Ted Simons: Let's move on. Scott Bundgaard has to go through a year -- finish a year of some sort of domestic violence program. If he doesn't finish, then we've got a whole new set of concerns here. Talk about this.

Steve Goldstein: The most interesting development for me, I think people expected this to be settled. What happens now in the state senate, those who had filed a ethics complaint against Scott Bundgaard said the justice system has done its job, I'm going to pull out. But Ron Gould, said, wait, now because he admitted to guilt, no contest. We may have to proceed. Is Gould going to say, I fit this position as an ethics chairman and party doesn't matter.

Ted Simons: Is this a way for the Democrats to say, we're going to make a Republican go after another Republican? Sounds like that's what is going on.

Dennis Welch: It does. But Mr. Gould apparently was telling people, initially, yes, this is going to happen. One way or the other, if I have to do it myself, it's going to happen. But he's starting to walk that back a little bit, saying it may not be appropriate for me to do that. I may have to wait for somebody. That somebody could end up to be a senator, like Steve Gallardo who is going to call for an ethics committee which is going to be a circus when it hits.

Ted Simons: What kind of wait does Scott Bundgaard have next session.

Mike Sunnucks: Very little. I think he's a lame duck. I think a lot of people, especially on the Republican side want this to go away. So there's impetus on Gould to lay off and let's move on.
Ted Simons: We had a interesting idea for U.S. senate. A former surgeon general of the United States might throw his hat into the ring. Talk about this.
Steve Goldstein: Richard Carmona who's based in Tucson who I think a lot of people would have assumed is Republican because he served as surgeon general during George Bush, says he's been an independent his whole career, says he has people in the democratic party asking him to run, which to me is like a joke Dennis has heard -- when you're at a party -- my friends think I'm funny. Now are people really telling him or just a couple of people telling him to run? But the Democrats need someone. At this point democratic chair Don Bibbins is the only one. I spoke with Congressman Raul Grijalva a few weeks ago and he said he's not going to run, he's kind of hedging. He doesn't think Gabby Giffords should run. The democrats need someone and maybe it's Carmona.
Ted Simons: Is Carmona a heavy candidate? Does a Carmona make an impact on the race?

Dennis Welch: I think he can if he gets in. That's the big if. We've covered politics for a long time and his name is not a new name for a race. He is an ideal candidate. He's got the last name out there, the great résumé. You know, he's someone who could make a real challenge and be a serious threat to somebody on the Republican side but we're a long way for him getting in the race. Because we've been here before

Mike Sunnucks: He's got a compelling personal story. I think he was a doctor on the swat team for Pima County. I want to say he has military experience.

Ted Simons: He does.

Mike Sunnucks: He knows how to speak and been out there in public speaking roles as surgeon general, the question is can he raise money and pull the trigger on a state that's Republican right now. And how much national support from democrats is he going to get in Arizona? Are we going to be a target state for someone to say we've got a chance here, or defend other seats.

Steve Goldstein: For someone who start with the U.S. senate, kind of daunting. Look at Jim Peterson, didn't work out to well for him

Ted Simons: Before we go, I want to talk about the FEDS, the case-by-case regarding the illegal -- I thought it was a big story and something that's going to reverberate for a while. What do you think about the reverberations in Arizona politics? The governor said back door amnesty and Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not happy with the situation. The idea of the government concentrating on the worst of the worst, the serious violent criminals as opposed to those with no criminal record for deportation, that's a big deal.

Steve Goldstein: It is a big deal. It sounds like something that attorney general Eric holder wanted to do from the beginning. I think if you look at Arizona Politics I think this is something that Republicans will jump on and say, this is President Obama trying to offer amnesty. If you look at it in a practical It may make sense but in a political sense, it will not.

Ted Simons: What do you think -- obviously, this is something that the Republicans could jump on if they want to. Do they want to?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, I mean, do you alienate the Hispanic voters even more? Wouldn't you think the bush and Clinton administration would have done this already? Going after drug cartel or someone you pick up at a restaurant or construction site. I think it's good politics in terms of reaching out to the Hispanics for the Obama administration and probably good policy for Jan Brewer and Republicans in states like Nevada and California and Texas. I don't know, you'll come across anti-Hispanic.
Ted Simons: What about states like Arizona? Is this something you can hitch your wagon to and just say thank you to President Obama?

Dennis Welch: You say to yourself; if it ain't broke, why fix it? You know, a lot of people have been elected over the past few years, get tough on immigration measures. This gives them another sound bite to use. Because what they're going to say, if you focus on people who -- allow people to stay here who don't have criminal backgrounds, they're going to say, they do. They broke the law when they came here illegally.
Mike Sunnucks: Well Obama is under a lot of pressure. He hasn't come through for his constituents very much. Folks on the left and Hispanics who voted for Barack Obama nationally, haven't gotten what they want-- immigration is not going to go anywhere. There is a bone to throw to them and say, we're going to after the criminals, not after those here working.

Ted Simons: Weren't you surprised there wasn't a hue and cry over this?

Steve Goldstein: I was. I think there will be. As he gets closer to 2012, there's no question. But the politics of it, it seems as if President Obama is pandering to the Hispanic community. But as we know, Hispanics voters are not monolithic, they don't all vote the same way. There are some who are third and fourth generations who don't like the fact there are some that came across illegally.
Mike Sunnucks: Well you saw Raul come out and saw he liked it. Not surprisingly. But a lot of folks in congress are is shell shock and hiding. Everybody is mad over the debt ceiling and the economy. Both sides laying low so that's why you saw only Governor Brewer come out on the Republican side.
Dennis Welch: I was just going to add, they're also not big in voter turnout We're not talking about a big block of voters that's come out yet. There's the potential and it's been there for years, this could be something to get them to the polls in 2012.
Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff, guys. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate.

Dennis Welch: Arizona Guardian; Mike Sunnucks: Phoenix Business Journal; Steve Goldstein: KJZZ Radio;

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 13

This week on Horizonte!

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
aired April 4

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: