Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight on the "Journalists' Roundtable," Mary Jo Pitzl of the "The Arizona Republic," Howard Fischer of "Capitol Media Services," and Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Wednesday was the filing deadline for candidates to appear on the August primary ballot, and more than 200 people have filed to run for the legislature, and several congressional races will feature competitive matchups, as well. Mary Jo, we'll get to the interesting races in a second. Did anyone of note not make the deadline?

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, not as far as I saw it. There was some question about what Senator Lori Klein would do. She's in a district that isn't really compatible with her current district. She's going to run for the House and collected a bunch of signatures in the last couple of weeks, a show of strength.

Ted Simons: Running against the Speaker?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Against the speaker and Representative Karen Fann. Lori Klein lives in Anthem but we'll see.

Ted Simons: We don't often see same party candidates running against the Speaker, do we?

Howard Fischer: For a while we weren't sure whether the speaker was going stay, and he flirted with the idea of running for Congress. The other piece is, this isn't like the old days when the Speaker had some real power, when it meant something to be the Speaker. This isn't Burton Barr. We've got a majority leader in Steve Court which should have been in a powerful position, saying I don't think I'm going to do it anymore, maybe I can't win. Leadership isn't what it used to be.

Ted Simons: Interesting races, Jim. How about, the Pearce campaign in Mesa pretty much tops the list in terms of statewide interest.

Jim Small: I think so, I think everyone's going to look at this, for sure. On what Howie was saying about leadership not having the same cachet it once did, even on the minority side. Campbell is facing a three-way race, accusing a former Senator; they are having kind of an intro party political kind of fight here. Chevron's mom is running against Campbell in the house. Layers and layers of intrigue to it.

Ted Simons: That took me quite a while to figure out the logistics, K.T., Hobbs -

Mary Jo Pitzl: Currently the Central Phoenix district is represented by Hobbs, Allton and Lujan. It's -- with redistricting, it changes the lines a little, moving Campbell into the same district as Hobbs, and all three of them are house members. They made a deal and decided K.T. would run for the Senate. He had been signaling he wants to get back in, and depending on whom you talk to, Ken said, look, I told them I'm going to run for the Senate. The Hobbs, Alston, Campbell group says, well, you know, he's mad because we wouldn't make way for him so now he's putting his mom to run against us.

Howard Fischer: Redistricting changed everything when incumbent was put up against incumbent. In some cases they moved. Don Shooter picked up his suitcase and said I'm leaving.

Ted Simons: Who is Don Shooter? Who is he running against now?

Howard Fischer: Don Shooter is a Yuma Republican. There's no longer a single Yuma district so he's decided, well, the district that he was in is heavily Democratic, so he said I'm going to move to the other district which stretches into West Phoenix where Senator John Nelson lives, again, incumbent versus incumbent. There are two very different personalities there. You would have a lot more of this than normal because of redistricting.

Ted Simons: Coming back to you with this Pierce thing, how is that shaping up? Are we starting to see some campaign stuff going on here?

Jim Small: I know Russell Pearce has signs up in the district already and fund-raiser -- fund-raising is underway for both of them. We could see dueling fund-raisers. It was interesting and notable for the fact that everyone listed as a host committee was all lawmakers, including members of the Republican leadership.

Howard Fischer: What's also interesting about that race in particular is how much national money is going to pour in. We're used to that with congressional races. It's sort of expected, we've seen it with what's going on in Tucson with Ron Barber versus Jesse Kelly. When you have a legislative race that's going to be drawing national money, the position has a ban amnesty now, the loyal opposition in terms of Bob Worsley, a lot of people see this as a test case for that whole immigration issue.

Ted Simons: It's getting kind of interesting with the ads on television, correct?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Oh, yeah. He's going after Flake really hard and making it clear -- he's made it clear from the beginning he will spend what it takes to run a very aggressive campaign, and he's delivering on that.

Jim Small: Matt Salmon and Kirk Adams, are we still waiting for the shoe to drop on that one? I think we're waiting for that. I know Matt Salmon is on TV right now. If Kirk's going to go on TV, it'll be soon. Certainly Salmon has a sort of a fund-raising edge. They seem to give the advantage to Salmon because of his name and history. Maybe that's not enough to overcome a guy with this kind of pedigree and who is really well respected.

Howard Fischer: Which brings us back to the point earlier, being speaker doesn't mean a lot anymore.

Ted Simons: As far as Quayle and Schweikert, Gosar and Gould, and goodness knows how many in C.D. 9, seems like a lot of races are slow to get going.

Howard Fischer: The filing deadline this year is a lot earlier than it used to be. It used to be the first or second week in June; we're now back into May filing deadlines. Also, it's 175 degrees out there. If people aren't physically in San Diego, I think they are mentally in San Diego. I think a lot of that happens. The other half of the equation, the filing deadline was moved up and so was the primary. We're now talking about the end of August. We will see that this burst is in there, particularly with people starting early voting soon. I think people may be saving money trying to figure out what's the best way to spend what we've got.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think another dynamic, as well, there's a lot of question about would these new district lines hold. With the legal challenges that have been filed, especially in C.D. 9, there are seven Republicans in there, some of them just got in in the last month. It takes a little bit to get up and running. That was pushed back because of uncertainty on the lines.

Ted Simons: There was a poll, I'm not sure exactly what it is, showing Schapira and Sinema, everyone's looking at the poll saying this can't be reliable. What's going on here?

Jim Small: There's been a lot of turmoil over this poll of the voters. It wasn't done by an actual pollster, but the Schapira campaign. They said, look, we're in a good position, not as far back. A lot of people were looking at that race and saying, it's going to be Kyrsten Sinema and Schapira probably is not going to be a contender. They are saying, look, we are contenders. But Kyrsten's camp is fund-raising off of the poll. You can't really rely on what this thing says and it doesn't jive with what we're seeing.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think Sinema and Schapira have found common cause in not liking Mr. Cherny. They don't like his campaign tactics, he's also rather deep pocketed and it's hard to believe those numbers.

Ted Simons: Even seems to have a question with it. We'll move on. The Arredondo case, he pleads not guilty. The prosecution wants so much evidence secret because of ongoing investigations.

Jim Small: When he had his arraignment the other day the judge rejected a request to keep the discovery documents private, under seal, and limit who the Arredondo attorney could give them to, and required them to be destroyed after the case ends. The judge rejected that and said this is overly broad and doesn't match with case law. If you want to give me an example of what you want to keep private that would probably go a long way. Yesterday the Department of Justice filed a second motion to limit it to things like names of confidential informants who were also investigated, either open investigations or closed investigations, things like tax filings and other personal identifiers.

Howard Fischer: Of course that means everything else, which is we're going to be poring over as journalists, what can we read from these tea leaves. We want to know why the FBI is interested in Tempe, Arizona.

Ted Simons: And quickly here, why would his attorneys agree to keeping so much of this much stuff secret? We were talking earlier, perhaps this is a way for them to say, listen, you wanted us to help, -- you know, all sorts of John Grisham stuff could be going on.

Jim Small: That's what our knowledge is limited to. Arredondo's attorneys agreed the first time. I talked to attorneys today who said, this is kind of puzzling. This is not the way you would normally approach the situation. You would use this idea for leverage to try to get something out of the prosecution. It certainly leaves it open for debate as to whether they have gotten something out of it.

Ted Simons: Howie, Secretary of State Ken Bennett apparently will not look into the birth certificate of Mitt Romney, despite many requests.

Howard Fischer: Not only despite many requests, but it may be despite what he already had promised. He got into this whole issue over he wanted to find out from Hawaii, do you have a birth certificate. He thought, I'm not going to go to Hawaii and stand outside the door; I'm not going to send off a deputy like Sheriff Joe did. But I'd like to protect the integrity of the ballot and I have had questions. When constituents ask me this, I feel a need to respond. Fair enough. We got the constituent responses, we think somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 to say, well, what about Mitt Romney? He said, I'm not going to be doing it. Why not? Well, there was always another condition involved with this, Howie. It was only if I first get some indication from a law enforcement agency that there may be a problem. I.e., Sheriff Joe's cold case posse. I called Sheriff Joe and he's not interested in looking at Romney's birth certificate, he said there's no reason to be suspicious. You have Ken caught in a position where he said, I did say this, but I meant that. He's stepped in the middle of this and doesn't understand why people are upset.

Mary Jo Pitzl: It's a situation of his own making. His critics are saying if it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander. You have one set of criteria for President Obama and a different one for Mitt Romney, and oh, by the way, you're his campaign chairman in this area? He put out yet another news release calling on Bennett to pick -- you know, either you're the co chair or the elections official.

Howard Fischer: This comes back to the earlier problem he had. Ken had said at one point. The secretary of state, chief elections official, I don't think it's appropriate to endorse candidates. Then he endorsed Romney and said, it really doesn't matter because I don't do the paperwork. Say you have a position, stick with the position, otherwise people like us come back and say, didn't you say back here -- and then have to answer that.

Ted Simons: Do those things stick to someone like Bennett who obviously has political ambitions?

Jim Small: We'll see what it looks like in 2014. I'm sure he wishes the story would go away already. Time will tell.

Ted Simons: All right. All right. Trent Franks is the new mayor of Washington, D.C., apparently.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Some of the residents of the District of Columbia are upset because Arizona's congressman was running a bill to try to ban abortions in the district after 20 weeks. They said, Wait a minute, why are you involved in our position here? It's the theme of his whole political life; he's just bringing it to another neighborhood.

Howard Fischer: And the fact is that as much as the residents hate it, the Congress does in fact control Washington, D.C. While they have given some local control, D.C. doesn't have a represented Congress who can vote. They can regulate the traffic lights if they want to. Can Congress legally do that? Sure. Is it proper for Congress to get involved in that level of politics? Probably not.

Ted Simons: I think that's what some of the citizens are complaining about. some are showing up asking him to fix potholes, fix sewers, fix traffic lights, all of the things they would rather have done. If you're going to be involved, get involved.

Howard Fischer: This comes back to the larger issue of should the District of Columbia have self-governance, be a voting member of Congress. Republicans hate the idea. They say, wait a minute; the place is populated with Democrats.

Ted Simons: Home rule is a major topic there.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That wasn't the only abortion related issue Franks brought up this week. He was able to bring to the floor of the House a vote on banning gender-based abortions. Many people say it's a solution in search of a problem. Steve Montenegro is a staffer or at least was at the time; it passed here and didn't pass in Congress.

Ted Simons: Once again, Trent Franks is making national headlines.

Howard Fischer: Can you say, election year? I think there's a hearing Franks and Gosar want to have on the Navajo generating station. You'll see a lot of these proceeds releases. People forget, who's that dude we sent to Washington? That is a fascinating question. Under the law passed by voters in 2010, you know, you've got the issue of, you can get a card if you get a recommendation from a doctor. The idea was you could buy it legally at the dispensaries. The law says one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies, working out to about 126. Nearly 500 folks say, yeah, they are supposed to be nonprofit but we think there's a good business here and we'd like to serve it. Didn't find a lot of folks interested in Yuma. You found in the Estrella section of the West Valley, more there than any other of the 126 districts.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That is where you live, Howie?

Howard Fischer: I'm a little east of there. Show Low, nine folks want to set up in Show Low. I asked the health director, you probably don't have that many marijuana users in Show Low. He said, if you're licensed as a dispensary, you can grow and sell to other dispensaries. They may see that as a good way to wholesale.
Ted Simons: 126 will be awarded. Those folks who applied a $5,000 application fee, they will get some of their money back.

Howard Fischer: Not all of their money back.

Ted Simons: Hello, the program is funded.

Howard Fischer: They have got at lot of money. Will is hoping to use that to do some of the examinations that are needed. He's also looking at expanding what's covered. We went through this a week ago today, should we be covering migraines and PTSD.

Ted Simons: Quickly, before we go, the Governor was in Europe promoting Arizona, the Berlin Wall, in Paris promoting Arizona.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Yeah, vive la France. Sounds like she got a little sightseeing in, as well. Her point is it's a trade mission. She touting Arizona's business climate and pointing most recently to tax reductions that she believes makes this a more fair investment area.

Ted Simons: Do folks come back with a contract in hand?

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, I think you come back with contacts, maybe with some good will. It might be years before you see something. You may not be able to draw a direct line to it. It's all about establishing relationships, getting ideas in people's heads.

Howard Fischer: To the extent it even promotes tourism, which is one of the purposes, you get an executive from a German firm who says, this wouldn't be a bad place to set up a plant, and particularly solar, which the Germans are very interested in, again, everything is incremental. Yes, is the state spending some money? Sure. Do I begrudge the governor for going over there and trying to make contacts? No.

Ted Simons: Jim, was there criticism that the governor was going over there?

Jim Small: We found out the day she was going that she was going. She's on a plane right now to go to Germany. I think it's kind of one of those things governors do.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here, thanks for joining us. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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