Journalists’ Roundtable

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

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to Arizona Horizon's "Journalists' Roundtable." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Dan Nowicki of the "Arizona Republic, Mike Sunnucks of The "Phoenix Business Journal," and Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio. Well, don't look now, but Tuesday is Election Day. Dan, it is interesting, it seems like it takes forever to get here but in the last couple of weeks, it seems like it is right on you. It is moving fast.
Dan Nowicki: General election in Arizona, only about two months long. It does pack a lot of punch in a small amount of time.
Ted Simons: I know you have been covering the U.S. Senate race. I want to get the presidential race, here in a second. How is that shaping up, Flake versus Carmona?
Dan Nowicki: It is going it go down to the wire. Very close race. I think the Flake campaign is feeling comfortable going into the final weekend before election. Both sides agree it is close. Whether Flake can pull it out or not, his guys seem pretty comfortable.
Ted Simons: Interesting. What are you hearing?
Mike Sunnucks: Well, the democrats and their allies are running a lot of ads. They must have hopes there that they can pull off the upset. Carmona is going to need a big Hispanic turnout. That is a national issue, too. Whether Obama can win depends a lot on younger voters and Hispanic turning out. And that will be what carries Carmona, if he is able to pull this off. He needs folks voting for Romney and voting for other republicans to cross over and vote for him in the Senate race over Flake. Those ads that they've run against Flake about his votes against various programs have been very effective, I think they have framed the race in Carmona's favor, but Flake is still probably the slight favorite among a lot of folks just because he's a republican in a republican state with the republican going to win the presidential race.
Ted Simons: Flake's to lose?
Steve Goldstein: So many built in advantages, primarily because of the registration advantage. Carmona has been such a good candidate for democrats, with his biography even with some of the rumors and innuendos about him if this were a different year, perhaps 2008, maybe he would have a chance.
Dan Nowicki: I think in a mid-term election, Carmona would have a much better chance.
Ted Simons: Talking about some of the ads. The ads showing senator McCain and Kyl, just thinking that Carmona is God's gift of creation-- that has crossed quite a stir, hasn't it?
Dan Nowicki: Right. Kind of provoked a reaction, predictable reaction from McCain and Kyl. I have talked to national analysts who questioned the wisdom of that engaging in such a big way with McCain and Kyl. For the last week or so, Carmona has been running against McCain and Kyl in addition to Flake. The ad that features the 2002 surgeon general hearing when Dr. Carmona was a nominee of President Bush. Bush administration went to McCain and Kyl and tapped them, standard procedure in D.C., they go to introduce the Arizonan nominated by the president into the Senate committee. They lavished praise on him as they do in these situations and it has come back to haunt them. The way the ad was put together, and the fact that they dropped it early enough, you know, it gave McCain and Kyl a chance to respond within a couple of days, cut an ad countering it. And a hard-hitting response, questioning Carmona's integrity, trying to mislead voters.
Ted Simons: What about that ad? Is that a game-changer in any way?
Mike Sunnucks: I don't think so. I think it tries it reach out to some soft republicans, independents on the fence, if they still are in this race. The key to their campaign, it mirrors what Obama has done against Romney, is kind of discredit Flake. He is too extreme - he's voted against all these things. Flake votes against these things because he votes against spending packages and he is fiscally conservative. Obviously, those ads talk about veterans' programs and things that are very popular. I think that has framed the race much more than the McCain ad. Even Carmona's profile, I think it helps him. Here's Jeff Flake he's voted against all of these things, brought up some stances on abortion and rape, which has been a national issue, and I think they try to take the democratic play book, that's been a national issue, and bring it to Arizona.
Ted Simons: To Dan's idea, that this may not have been a wise choice, to run this particular ad. The fact remains, that senators McCain and Kyl did say these things. Basically, there is tape of them saying these things.
Steve Goldstein: It actually looks potentially worse for McCain or Kyl than Carmona or Flake. This idea that it is all politics. People who are already synical, if you are supporting him as an Arizonan, that's great. If he is running in a different party, that can hurt you as well. Impact of ads like this -- I'm not sure this turns any voters.
Ted Simons: Okay. Let's -- we will get a prediction from you because you are covering the race. We don't want to keep your journalistic integrity. We're not going to worry about that with you. So, who wins this thing?
Mike Sunnucks: Flake, close but Flake wins because of the Republican registration advantage and having Romney winning the state here. But it will be close, much closer than everybody expected.
Ted Simons: Five or less?
Mike Sunnucks: Five or less.
Ted Simons: What do you think Steve?
Steve Goldstein: I will say slightly more than five. It'' end up being a real turn for Flake in the end. It is not going to be -- if President Obama were close, if he were somehow to lose by fewer than five points, I think Carmona is within one or two. But, he's going to lose by more than seven.
Ted Simons: Stick with the presidential race. It sounds like the Obama -- whatever effort there was for Obama in the president here in state has pretty much packed up a tent or two. What do you see?
Steve Goldstein: Well, I talked to a Democratic consultant this week, and told me, yeah, that is old news. The fact that Jim Messina, the campaign manager, for the president said they official pulled out. I was told a few weeks ago that they already moved to New Mexico and Colorado. Arizona was an enticing prospect was the phrase they used. It's not a shock. President Obama did not have much of a chance. Mitt Romney strong candidate and also LDS support --
Ted Simons: Let's get back to Flake now. It sounds like Flake is kind of looking for Romney for some assistance here.
Dan Nowicki: I think that is true. And I know that -- some of the polling showed, you know, Flake kind of underperforming compared to Romney in the state. And one of the things they've been working is getting Flake's numbers even with Republican's, up to Romney's level. That is one of the challenges herefor Flake, he has lost a lot of Republicans. Carmona has had some success with crossover Republicans and they have been trying to staunch that. That is why you see the emphasis on Dr. Carmona being a rubber stamp for Obama. You vote for Carmona, you're going to get the Harry Reid agenda. Trying to hammer home the point, some Republicans who find the bio intriguing, the Vietnam war recpord and that the law enforcement experienced it and the daring do rescues -- you vote for him because he seems like a cool guy, you're going to also get Harry Reid with that package.
Ted Simons: So basically we see presidential affecting down ticket and it's almost like down ticket could affect presidential races here in Arizona at least.
Mike Sunnucks: I think the interesting thing about Arizona is some of the turnout patterns, you might get to see those in other battleground states. They are going to decide the white house races. How much evangelical Christians turn out for Romney and Flake. How much anti-abortion Catholics turn out for Republicans and conversely Hispanics and younger voters and minority voters, how intense their turnout is. If they turnout here a lot, maybe they are turning out a lot in Ohio, Iowa and here Colorado.
Ted Simons: All right. Give us a prediction as far as the presidential race.
Mike Sunnucks: In Arizona. I think we can go with Romney.
Ted Simons: Give us a number.
Mike Sunnucks: I'm going to say 11 points.
Ted Simons: 11 points. Double digits. What do you think Steve:
Steve Goldstein: I say nine.
Ted Simons: A little less.
Steve Goldstein: Romney by nine.
Mike Sunnucks: Not picking Obama -- wanted to make sure.
Ted Simons: Let's keep it moving here.
Dan Nowicki: The numbers seem reasonable based on what I know.
Ted Simons: That sounds pretty much in the ballpark.
Dan Nowicki: I think that is right. Romney running eight, nine, 10.
Ted Simons: Nothing's changed much in the past couple weeks. Mike CD-9 Cinema v. Parker and this one is getting nastier all the time and sounds like it is close.
Mike Sunnucks: It wasn't as nasty as we expected, but it's evolving. It's came through for us.
Dan Nowicki: What would you expect?
Mike Sunnucks: With a lot of -- it has turned really nasty with nasty ads on both sides. Republicans are making a last-ditch push. A lot of people think Sinema has the slight advantage there. There are a few folds that think this race could go into overtime. I think people think Sinema is the favorite, but a slim favorite, but if you have a big Romney turnout, a big Romney win and Flake does better than expected, that could carry someone like Parker.
Steve Goldstein: The most interesting thing about this race, to me, is to see which one has raced more toward the middle and center and which one is more believable. And I think that's where Parker is hurt because Parker initially had said I will overturn, repeal Obama care. On channel 12, Chris kind of cornered him on that. I spoke with Parker. I wouldn't repeal the whole thing. He has been more evident -- I think there is built-in advantages for Sinema in that district. I'd be surprised if Sinema didn't win by 3 or four points.
Ted Simons: The ads, in this particular race have been pretty hard and pretty sustaining are they making a difference?
Steve Goldstein: Well, I think they've really firmed up some things. Vernon Parker made some hay with this high with one of the ads made him look more African American than he was, which gained some controversy. Kyrsten Sinema way out there. But I would say these ads are so over the top that I would be surprised --
Ted Simons: After awhile, your mail box is overflowing with these cards and everyone is the devil and someone else is the saint. I mean, are people paying attention anymore to these things?
Mike Sunnucks: That seems to be the theme nationally and in all of these ads, Flake, Carmona, and this race with the latest ad with the Sinema's comment from a number of years ago about stay at home moms the Republicans are running that a lot -- the tea party add, Democrats running against Parker about getting rid of Medicare. It is to discredit your opponent that they are not worthy to be in office. There is evidence that the negative ads work and it is a question of which one sticks. And I think Sinema's still got the advantage. I think if you see a last push my Republican's may steel this one.
Dan Nowicki: At some point you reach the point of diminishing returns. So many ads that people stop paying attention. Whether or not we've hit that at this point, but we're pretty close to it.
Ted Simons: Every mailbox is full. Steve, what do you see in this one?
Steve Goldstein: I'm going to say Sinema by about three points.
Mike Sunnucks: I will say by one.
Ted Simons: Close.
Mike Sunnucks: It will be close.
Ted Simons: CD one, Kirkpatrick versus Paton. This is interesting. This district is bigger than half of the states in America. This is a huge district. Kirkpatrick has some experience back in Washington; Paton with some experience at the state capitol. What are you hearing? This looks like it's close as well.
Mike Sunnucks: It is very close. A lot of the consultants, especially, on the republican side think they have a better chance on this one than some of the other swing districts in the state. So, they think Paton has a very good chance. I think democrats have a slight registration advantage, but socially conservative, rural conservative district. Romney will probably do pretty well there versus Obama. That probably help Paton. I think republicans are pretty optimistic about this one.
Steve Goldstein: This is one of those, I almost see, maybe this is too inside, as a test whether newspaper endorsements matter in the least anymore because the Republic came out an hammered Kirkpatrick hard and it reminded me a lot of the Harry Mitchel Jadie Hayworth, several years ago. So, it is almost like this person didn't give us any time. Personality so abrasive.
Ted Simons: I don't want to put you on the spot. As far as the Republic, endorsement, I read that as well, and it seemed like they were upset that Ann Kirkpatrick, her demeanor during their particular interview session as opposed to taking the campaign.
Steve Goldstein: Let's think back. I think it was two years ago. Maybe more than two when Ann Kirkpatrick was running for re-election and that incident at a grocery store. All over YouTube where she got mad at people asking her questions and she walked away. If there is a pattern of this not wanting to talk to constituents or feeling above the fray, there is a democratic advantage but it's not traditional democratic advantage. Jonathan Paton has gotten high marks for crossing the party lines in the legislature this could be very, very close.
Dan Nowicki: Everything I have heard is that Paton has the momentum in that district. A tough district to win for a Republican but possibly he can do it. Mike mentioned the rural Democrats, culturally conservative, like guns and trucks and don't-- to San Francisco liberals he may have a chance.
Ted Simons: All right.
Mike Sunnucks: And she got a record and was in there. They are tying her to Obama, which is an advantage to the Republicans.
Ted Simons: Affordable care act. Who wins?
Mike Sunnucks: Paton.
Ted Simons: You think Paton wins?
Mike Sunnucks: By a couple of points.
Ted Simons: What do you think?
Steve Goldstein: I will go with Mr. Sunnucks on that one.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, the CD-2 race, the McSally. How is that shaping up down there?
Dan Nowicki: A tough district for republicans. I -- McSally is kind of an appealing candidate in certain regards, but I think Ron Barber is going to be tough to beat.
Ted Simons: He seems like he would be very tough to beat, especially with the Gabby Giffords --
Mike Sunnucks: He is the favorite down there. She is an okay candidate. Democratic district obviously has the ties to Gabby Giffords and the shooting, a lot of sympathy there and he comes across as kind of a reasonable guy, which people yearn for that in politics. He is the favorite.
Ted Simons: Calling it for him. Five, six, seven?
Mike Sunnucks: Oh, yeah, six, seven --
Steve Goldstein: I would say close to double digits. Martha McSally is charismatic with she has the military background and yet a lot of people are saying she is the female version Jesse Kelly, who was not very popular down there.
Ted Simons: A couple of races of note regarding the state legislature. LD-26, Ableser and Jerry Lewis. And this is really an interesting race. A lot of folks who were really behind Jerry Lewis when he was going up against Pearce, the Pearce machine, are trying to figure out what to do next. What is going on out there?
Mike Sunnucks: A democratic oriented district, so the Democrat has the advantage there. Jerry Lewis once the shining star of modern -- is now a tea party guy somehow. It is a challenge for him in that district. There may be goodwill among moderates and independents for him. Conventionalism would say the Democrat would win that but you could see Lewis with good name I.D. and legislative races -- that is that guy that beat Russell Pearce. We like that type of guy in the legislature. That one is kind of hard to pick.
Ted Simons: Has he made enough of a name for himself --
Steve Goldstein: Apparently he has missed many votes. That doesn't excite people a lot. He is also considered to be a little bit different. Someone whose thinking is not all that consistent sometimes. I think what is most interesting about this one is this idea not to be the bull work of thinking of old-time politics and people who cross lines, but this is the perfect issue, here is Lewis, moderate Republican, actually worked for Democrats sometime, but party line, we have to support this democrat. It's interesting to see how this will turn out. Voters may benefit for having Lewis in than Ableser.
Ted Simons: The other big races, district 18. John McComish, Senator McComish going up against Jamie Heidrick -- it sounds like Heidrick, the money is coming in huge against a guy who again is considered by many to be somewhat moderate --
Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, McComish is a moderate from Ahwatukee, was head of the chamber down there. And, again, the way campaigns work now, you are a tea party guy if you are a Republican. I would be surprised if he lost that race.
Ted Simons: You think so.
Mike Sunnucks: I think he will hold on and win that one despite the efforts against him.
Steve Goldstein: I think so, too. If he wins, he will have a nice time trying to hold on to his leadership position. He has it coming at him from the right, as well. So, poor McComish from the left and right.
Ted Simons: I was going to say the same thing happens with some of the leadership already in the -- the president and the speaker of the house. They are now considered not conservative enough by folks who think Russell Pearce got the raw end of a deal.
Steve Goldstein: We saw this before. Any Republican voter for Napolitano's budget was all the sudden a rhino.
Ted Simons: There you go. Arpaio V Penzone. What are you seeing here?
Steve Goldstein: Thank you for turning to me, Ted. Recently, the ad by the Arpaio campaign, old incident about Penzone and his ex-wife, that Penzone had been honest and up front about. I'm curious to see what kind of impact that has. Because the ads for Sheriff Arpaio, he's standing there with his wife, looking at the DEA days. Penzone is the strongest candidate that Arpaio has faced in the last several elections and Arpaio is extremely weak right now. Does that matter? Is it going to be close? Arpaio used to win 80 to 20, is this 52-48. And will Mike Stauffer have an impact.
Ted Simons: Bottomline, 52-48 means Arpaio wins. All you have to do is win. It doesn't matter how much you win by. Penzone has a lot to climb here.
Mike Sunnucks: Yeah. I think the barometer here, you see ads for Carmona, government workers union, environmentalists running ads against Flake in that race because they think they have a chance. I think if Penzone was close, striking distance, you would see national money coming in for him to try and knock off Arpaio. That would be a huge win for folks that are on the other side of the immigration issue from Arpaio. I think most people that I talk to think Arpaio will win, obviously not by the bid wide margin but more than the closer polls.
Dan Nowicki: Penzone has an interesting ad running on KFYI I think maybe at the radio stations, where he is talking directly to Republican past supporters of Arpaio, and I think it is just kind of telling that that is what you are up against in Maricopa county. It is tough to win county-wide when you are a Democrat, let alone when you are up against Arpaio.
Steve Goldstein: I have heard a lot of buzz that Penzone, this could have affected early fundraising, he made a tactical error running as a Democrat. A lot of republicans who are going to say, I'm not happy with the sheriff right now, but I'm can't vote for a Democrat. Where if Penzone would have been able to survive as an independent he might still be in the race.
Dan Nowicki: He may have even mentioned in the ad, just because he has a D by his name, it is not going to affect law enforcement. Law enforcement is nonpartisan.
Ted Simons: Isn't that interesting? Arpaio wins?
Mike Sunnucks: I would say nine points.
Steve Goldstein: I'm going to say because of Stauffer, I would say five or six.
Ted Simons: Stauffer could be a factor --
Steve Goldstein: I think he could get at least three points.
Ted Simons: Propositions a lot to go over here. We don't have too much time. 204. The sales tax, temporary sales tax made permanent. What do you think?
Mike Sunnucks: There is a lot of folks that have come out against that. Doug Ducey, anti-tax folks, business groups, auto dealers put money in against that. A lot of folks think that might surprisingly have a hard time passing. Which conventional wisdom, this thing will breeze through. You'll have a coalition for it. It is already there. But I think there is a chance that that could lose.
Dan Nowicki: There is a Rasmussen poll that came out last week. It asked about that. It was down eight points I think.
Ted Simons: Interesting, most folks thought that that had a good shot.
Steve Goldstein: I mean, opposition has really portrayed it well as not being proposition 100. Passed so easily. When you have governor Jan Brewer, who is a lead person on 100, opposed to 204, that carries a lot of weight.
Mike Sunnucks: And look at the fiscal -- if that goes down, there are going to have some tough decisions budget wise.
Ted Simons: Speaking of tough decisions, decision might be down to two, if you get the top two primary thing passed. Is that going to pass?
Mike Sunnucks: I don't think so. I don't think it is the right year for that. A lot of stuff on the ballot. It is a little confusing. Both parties against it. A lot of interest groups against it, Hispanics, social conservatives don't like. It might be a good idea. Might be goods for public policy but it might not be its time yet.
Ted Simons: If it is not time now, when would the time be for something like that?
Steve Goldstein: Mid-term election year, ballot initiative like this. What is interesting, if we had a more involved electorate, not people watching "Arizona Horizon," but people more involved, this would pass easily. Because I think the cynicism should come out. Both parties are against this? Wow, this must be fantastic.
Ted Simons: Cynicism; you kind of live in a little bubbler here. It just seems like everyone is negative about the parties and the process and what they are seeing, you would think this would breeze through.
Dan Nowicki: It just seems like there is a lot of skepticism about it on whether it will solve the problem or create a bunch of unintended consequences that no one sees coming yet.
Steve Goldstein: I also think the top two things are a misnomer. Opponents like the idea of top two. CD-9 as an example, idea that there were three democrats and nine republicans. If you add up the percentages it's going to be Sinema and Shapira, but that's not how it's would to work. It would be 12 thrown in together.
Ted Simons: At least until everyone figures it out.
Mike Sunnucks: You just kind of see this as democrats and rhinos, trying to change the rules of the game because conservatives have been winning lately. That is an effective argument for voters on the right.
Ted Simons: Also democrats complaining, pro business doing this, because it's an extremist right that's in the legislature not listening to business as much as. Real quickly, the corporation commission, speaking of everyone and their brother, we have a lot of folks running in that thing, what are you hearing?
Dan Nowicki: I think -- actually what I'm hearing, Susan Bitter Smith is doing well. Heard maybe Bob Stump on the Republican side is having a bit of a challenge.
Ted Simons: The team aspect doesn't necessarily holding
Dan Nowicki: I don't think so. I don't think people are necessarily voting as a slate.
Ted Simons: I know both sides are running as teams here.
Mike Sunnucks: A lot of people thought the Republicans, Republican year, Republican state, why wouldn't Republicans win? You have a guy named Paul Newman on there, and people like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis -- they all do well in these races.
Ted Simons: We certainly do. We've only got a minute and a half left. Probably just as well. Tom Horne. He says he didn't do it. He says he wasn't sure if he remembers. Will we - What's his political future?--so many places to go with this.
Steve Goldstein: His political future short-term will be fine, because I can't imagine he is going to resign. His reputation is soiled. He will never be governor of Arizona. But there is that question of are people most interested in the gossip factor, whether Tom Horne is having an affair, or whether the top law enforcement official in the state left after a fender bender, hit and run, it looks terrible for him. In that position, we are supposed to expect more honesty and this is showing less honesty.
Mike Sunnucks: The interesting thing was this was a campaign finance probe. About whether he was intermingling funds and coordinating things with an outside group, which happened a lot in politics. It went to the secretary of state -- and it is morphed into this following him around, personal life and his hit-and-run thing and -- maybe there is a lot more there than this, maybe we will see more. Maybe not. It certainly his political career is--
Steve Goldstein: Who is playing Ken Star in this role? That is how white water started with something different and then slid off into an affair.
Ted Simons: So, we've got from wearing a baseball cap leaving a parking garage to white water. Is that what you are trying to tell us? What do you think quickly, turnout, does it sound like getting out the vote is getting out the vote?
Dan Nowicki: That is the big X-factor of Election Day. The Carmona camp, democrats are trying energize the Latino vote. We will see if that comes in bigger than usual. Bruce Merrill are a little skeptical that it will. Some of the things, you have to wait and see.
Mike Sunnucks: Not only here, but the presidential race, polls so tight in a lot of these races. Evangelicals, Catholics, and the white vote -- they will have a good night. If Hispanic turn out and younger voters turn out than--
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us. That is it for now. Actually that is not it for now. What is going to happen next week. Author of radical distortion, societal impact of negative ads and toxic speech. That is Monday. That is it for now. Thank you for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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