Phoenix Mayoral Race

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Dennis Welch of the Arizona Guardian provides an update of the Phoenix mayoral race on the eve of election day.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A federal judge temporarily halted Alabama's new immigration law today. The judge said she needed more time to decide if the law is constitutional. Alabama's law is said to be similar to, but tougher than Arizona's S.B. 1070. Well more Phoenix residents have already voted in this year's mayoral race than in the election four years ago, and there is still one more day of voting. Here to give us an update on the race is Dennis Welch of "The Arizona Guardian." Good to see you again thanks for joining us. Who is looking the best down now the stretch here?

Dennis Welch: Odds on, on the whole thing, I think Greg Stanton obviously has been the frontrunner for a while. That hasn't changed. He's really confident. He's so confident I think tomorrow night he's holding what he is calling a rally tomorrow night because he expects to be one of the two in the runoff elections. Other people are having election night get-togethers or events, he's going to host a rally because the hard work is going to start the next day.

Ted Simons: If Stanton is not a lock, a really good bet- who is fighting for the other spot?

Dennis Welch: I think conventional wisdom, Peggy Neely, the former councilwoman and long time political Republican consultant Wes Gullet I think are the two fighting for that number two spot. And a lot of people have seen that Mr. Gullett has had some momentum over the past few weeks that they've been trying to stop that it should carry him on maybe into the runoff. That's the thought right now. He's been taking a lot of attacks from his opponents over the past few weeks because of that momentum mainly because of his ties to his lobbying firm and his lobbyist connections.

Ted Simons: The bill issues, what are they as far as the candidates are concerned, as far as the voters are concerned and have they changed as the campaign has gone on?

Dennis Welch: I think from the beginning, the big issues like the food tax out there that people were talking about, really unpopular tax, to tax food and then we found out, like the other expenditures that the city hall has been making that were very questionable and people start asking, "Why are you taxing me on food when you're spending on day raises or other things?" I think that's been a big one and another one that's been out there is the city's procurement code. That's how the system by which the city gets goods and services out there. Phoenix has no procurement code and that's been the issue and I know that Mr. Gullett and others have been making this an issue. We have to codify some of the stuff.

Ted Simons: As far as voters are concerned, is that an issue for them?

Dennis Welch: City voters are different and that the general election, the mainstream voters out there. You get a lot of city workers and people like that who get involved. I think to a certain extent that kind of stuff appeals to the city voter.

Ted Simons: Of the four front runners and there are six candidates, one of them, the tea party candidate, let's go with her right now. Can a tea party candidate affect this election in terms of who gets in and who gets out.

Dennis Welch: I think she already has. It's who she takes votes away from. You got to remember, a lot of this election has been cast as reformer versus -- an outsider versus an insider and the status quo. If you're an outsider, Jennifer Wright, she's going to take votes away from you. I know that Mr. Gullett has been going after those votes and Peggy Neely has tried to position herself as someone who is going to take on the city unions and the union bosses. If Wright gets any sizeable vote count those are votes that could have gone to either of those two, and I think particularly Peggy Neely gets hurt because Jennifer Wright is a women and she could be taking some of those female votes away.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Just as a generalization here, we've got Mattox and Stanton, somewhat okay with the status quo but want to build and develop optimistic. Neely and Gullett, not crazy about the status quo and a little bit more pessimistic.

Dennis Welch: Sure, sure. That's a good way to look at it. But Mr. Stanton may take issue with that, he may say, "Hey, look I want to make some reforms, I think city hall needs to make changes, it's not a completely broke system but it does need some changes." So he may take issue with that.

Ted Simons: Yeah, at least those two, Mattox and Stanton seem to think that the city is on the right track. You just need to make sure you button down those tracks. Let's talk about the council races. How much will those races impact the mayor's race?

Dennis Welch: They will because what they could do is particularly in like Neely, she could see a bump or a bust -- Neely, she's a former councilwoman, she quit earlier there's a race for her seat. How can that affect the mayor's race? It could bring out more voters and more efforts by people to get the people to the polls and get the early ballots out there and get them casting that stuff out there. So it could increase -- it could increase the turnout and the conventional wisdom is that if it's her district, she may benefit.

Ted Simons: Talk about turnout more. We've seen a lot of early voting. What does that say? What is turnout say? What are we looking at here?

Dennis Welch: As you said in your promo, more voters have already cast ballots in this mayoral election than in any other mayoral election in the city's history. And that is because of the efforts by the city clerk's office to put more people on the permanent early voting list. We've got close to 600,000 or even more on this permanent early voter list; they're going to get ballots every year. That's really important and turnout for folks like Wes Gullet, I think he's been talking about this from the beginning that if you saw a lot of turnout, it would be good for him because it would show that there's a lot of dissatisfaction. Voters if they are unhappy tend to vote in higher numbers than if they're satisfied with the status quo.

Ted Simons: The Phil Gordon factor, such as it is, is there a Phil Gordon factor?

Dennis Welch: I just don't see it. I haven't seen him involved in any of this stuff and I think -- I don't think people have wanted to associate themselves with him. He's made moves over the past few years that hasn't been very popular with people in the media out there and I think distancing themselves from him.

Ted Simons: Last question, obviously this would be leading to the runoff, all bets seem to be along those lines. When we finally get a new mayor for Phoenix, will any of these front runners mean big changes?

Dennis Welch: Well it's interesting the one thing you have to think about the mayor's race, in Phoenix, it's unlike other cities back east like Philadelphia or Chicago. Because we have a city manager form a government. So what our next mayor is going to be able to do is going to depend upon what the council is going to let him do. You got to remember, he's only one more vote on the council so he's got to be able to bring more people along. So, if there's going to be big changes, I wouldn't look for it that much because the system is set up for incremental changes.

Ted Simons: More of a captain, more of a leader as opposed to carrying the bullet holder. Dennis good stuff and we'll see what happens tomorrow. Thank you for joining us.

Dennis Welch: Thank you.

Dennis Welch:Arizona Guardian

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