VOTE 2012: Election Returns and Analysis

More from this show

One hour special at 10 p.m. of election returns and analysis with political consultants Wes Gullett of FirstStrategic, Bob Grossfeld of The Media Guys, and Jay Thorne of Jay Thorne Incorporated.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to this special Vote 2012 edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The votes are in, the people have spoken and in the next hour we'll find out what Arizona voters had to say about nine statewide ballot propositions and the many candidates competing. Here to help us sort through the winners, losers and races too close to call is political consultant Wes Gullett, a founding partner in the firm First Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, and Bob Grossfeld, president and CEO of the The Media Guys, and Jay Thorne, the president of Jay Thorne, Incorporated.

Ted Simons: The presidential election, we now know President Barack Obama will have a second term. And the race in Arizona not all that close as far as the President is concerned. Is that a surprise? What does it mean to downticket races?

Wes Gullett: It's not a surprise at all to me. I thought Barack Obama was going to win Arizona from the day that he was nominated. It was a no-brainer. But the impact it had, especially in the Senate race, was fairly dramatic. It really helped Jeff Flake and they were coattails from the top of the ticket all the way down, we see it all the way down to the Legislature. It's been a pretty big Republican night so far, we've got -- there's issues that we've got to look at and we'll talk about those in a little bit.

Ted Simons: You bet. Bob, what do you think of the presidential race here in Arizona and the impact on other races?

Bob Grossfeld: I have to concur with Wes, it was pretty predictable. At the very beginning of the campaign season there was reason to look at the potential of it being much closer, and a lot of that was based on the kind of activities the Democratic party has been doing, particularly in cultivating the Latino votes and the Latino surge, as it came to be known, that just didn't happen.

Jay Thorne: I believe there's been a battle going on between Arizona and Washington, led by Governor Brewer for the last several years, over immigration. An incumbent Democratic president running in Arizona, I think was troubled even before Mitt Romney was the nominee, because the dialogue and the storyline in Arizona about our bucking the federal government to kind of solve our own problems, and the juxtaposition of the federal government against a Democratic incumbent.

Ted Simons: Wes, you've got New Mexico blue, Colorado more than likely blue, Utah red, California blue, Arizona a bastion of red, now blue.

Wes Gullett: Like Jay was just saying, this is a place that has a populist bent to it, but it's also very independent in its conservatism. It's going to take a while for it to purple up like everybody wants it to. This is still a red state and I think tonight showed it.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the Latino surge and everybody waiting for that. Seems like we may have seen a little bit of that and in other areas of country. Did we see any of that in Arizona?

Bob Grossfeld: Probably saw some, but I don't think we can pinpoint it until we get the data in and all the of the precincts reporting. We still have races that are actually quite tight where there could be that kind of an influence. The voter registration number went up very dramatically, an increase of 40% over 2008. But it's like Waiting for Godot sometimes. It's like all the pieces are in place and all of the activity has been done but then it doesn't necessarily happen.

Ted Simons: There's been talk among the network analysts regarding maybe there could be a change in demographics, if not a seismic shift, some sort of shift in certain parts of the country. Do you see that happening in Arizona?

Jay Thorne: What I see happening in Arizona is a rise in Latino registration and Latino population. I also see a movement toward independent registration. That's a trend we've seen over the last several years here. I agree with Wes, it's a conservative state but it's populist and independent. It's definitely in transition. It doesn't look like it did 20 years ago. But we've been hearing from the Democratic Party that the growth in the Latino community was going to change the political calculus in Arizona, and it's not happened on a statewide basis in a presidential race here.

Wes Gullett: Carmona won -- he did very well, in Maricopa County -- I thought it would be a lot closer than it was and it wasn't. Flake won, not by old numbers we used to see back in the 1980s and 1990s, but he won. It should have been 50/50 for him to be able to win this election. Then in Yavapai and Mohave and Cochise County, it was just a slaughter. Those rural counties are growing in population and becoming more conservative.

Ted Simons: Looking at the numbers right here, Bob, that is a relatively convincing one for Jeff Flake, a lot of folks thought it would be a real tight nip and tuck all the way.

Bob Grossfeld: They proved the pollsters wrong. Voters have a tendency to do that every once in a while. I think it showed particularly in the last couple of weeks, Carmona I think had been doing quite well. In the last couple of weeks they just poured it on with the negative ads. I have no idea how much money was poured in from outside the state, but certainly into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or into the millions, a lot of money poured in against Carmona. It's like as a campaign you start to suffocate and you just can't keep your head up.

Jay Thorne: Still, Jeff Flake's just a touch above 50% in this race. So the vulnerability probably caused in large part due to the battle he had in his own party primary, was there. But the margin of five or six points tonight doesn't make it look quite that close. But Flake's just hovering at 50%.

Ted Simons: There were some folks moving around there. As far as the future for Richard Carmona, a political future in Arizona? What do you think?

Wes Gullett: You know, I think he got a taste of political battle, and it might not have been a good one.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Wes Gullett: So I don't know, I think he's going to be happy to do what he was doing before, having been down that road. I know how he feels.

Ted Simons: We look at the numbers for president here in Arizona and again, that's over twice the margin of victory there for the Republican than we saw in the U.S. Senate race. What do you think, Bob? Richard Carmona show up again in politics?

Bob Grossfeld: I don't know. He's one of the most distinguished and accomplished people we have in the state. I think this might have been it. He gave it a try. He had been pursued by both Republicans and Democrats. This is a hard one to shake off.

Jay Thorne: I think that things that made him an appealing and attractive candidate are probably the same sort of personal values and groundedness that will lead him to conclude that that was a nice stint and I'm getting back to my life now.

Ted Simons: All right. So we've got the President and the U.S. Senate race. Let's start with some of the congressional districts here. Starting with 1, a race expected to be close. Jonathan Paton and Ann Kirkpatrick, Wes, we'll start with you. Surprised that it is this close?

Wes Gullett: I think it's close, but you know, people thought that Ann Kirkpatrick was going to win when she got in the race. It was a foregone conclusion she was going to be the candidate that was going to win. And Paton ran a very good campaign. I'm surprised that it's as close as it is. And it could get even closer because the precincts that are still out are mostly on the Navajo reservation. So that's heavily Democrat country.

Ted Simons: Do you think Kirkpatrick has a chance here?

Bob Grossfeld: I think there is that chance.

Ted Simons: Same question, if Kirkpatrick winds up losing, does she have much of a future now?

Ted Simons: This is twice in a row.

Jay Thorne: Well, yes, she had a past. The district was redrawn slightly, many of the same voters rejected her two years ago. She was the early odds-on favorite here. I'm looking at results here and there are still 30 precincts out in Navajo County, most of them according to these numbers would seem to be out on the reservation. If she loses this race I think she's probably done.

Ted Simons: Another close one, actually closer, south of Arizona, CD-2, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords against what is considered a rising star, Martha McSally. Bob, this is just about as tight as you can get.

Bob Grossfeld: Yeah. And I think it's one of those races that particularly those of us up in Maricopa County kind of looked down and, okay, the Democrat is going to win, and don't pay much attention to it. But down there it was tight and getting tighter as we got closer to the election. It's still tight and I don't know how it's going to come out. But Barber is ahead, presumably he'll maintain that.

Jay Thorne: If we look at what's out in that district right now, majority of those precincts are in Pima County, the area with bar brother is carrying not strongly but by a decent margin. It's not over yet but it doesn't look bad for her.

Ted Simons: Martha McSally, if she does not win this race a lot of folks think she still does have a future.

Wes Gullett: There's no question about it. It depends on what the election cycle is and what the president does. If there continues to be stalemate in Washington, if Ron Barber doesn't do a lot of things in this next two years, it could be a big -- it's going to be a midterm cycle in 2014, could be even more Republican than this one.

Ted Simons: Let's look at some other congressional races here. We can go these these relatively quickly. C.D. 3, Raul Grijalva has a rather convincing lead here and certainly is whipped to be sent back to Washington. Not the most overall convincing but 57% of the vote, you don't have too much to worry about CD-4, Paul Gosar looks as though -- correct me if I'm wrong -- can he pencil himself in?

Bob Grossfeld: He should be moving to Washington. He'll never have to come back except occasionally to say hello to everybody.

Ted Simons: What do you think? He could have other ambitions, but this district is his until he wants out?

Jay Thorne: Yeah. He and Trent Franks, they are going to be comfortable for a long time. These kind of districts, I know we'll talk about this later, are the focus of what proposition 121, which went down heavily tonight, was all about.

Ted Simons: Yes. And you mentioned some other candidates, Matt salmon in CD-5, easy win. No surprise there. He can probably writing write his district until redistricts, can't he?

Wes Gullett: Yes, yes. This time he didn't term limit himself so he might give himself a decent committee assignment.

Bob Grossfeld: I would hate to retire our senior senator, but at some point John McCain will step down and there will be an open Senate seat.

Ted Simons: There will. I know David Schweikert may be able to write his ticket unless he can join what may be a crowded field for that open Senate seat, correct?

Bob Grossfeld: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Running as a Democrat -- am I wrong here? In the last two years has in been a Republican, Democrat and an independent?

Wes Gullett: Yes, a trifecta.

Wes Gullett: You call a tripartisan, a loser.

Ted Simons: We will keep that in mind.

Ted Simons: Congressional District 7, Ed Pastor, this race, there wasn't even a Republican running in this race. Naive question here, Bob, why? Is this district that heavily Democratic?

Bob Grossfeld: Yes.

Ted Simons: Okay, let's move on.

Jay Thorne: Ed Pastor has worked hard and done a nice job for Republicans. He is the senior statesman of our delegation at this point and works well for both sides of the aisle.

Ted Simons: CD-8, I believe that is Trent Franks. And again, another guy who's just got this thing locked up.

Bob Grossfeld: A lifer.

Ted Simons: He's not going anywhere unless someone makes him with redistricting. All right. Let go to CD-9, this is the one in Maricopa County and the Phoenix area everyone is watching. It was projected to be close. And Bob, it's close.

Bob Grossfeld: It is close. And anybody who is thinking there would be a landslide frankly one way or another was doing some sort of narcotics. It is a district that frankly was designed to be competitive. It's doing exactly what it was designed to be. Sinema is marginally ahead.

Jay Thorne: You'd like to think that produce as good race. Unfortunately in this case a lot of mud-slinging, a lot of out-of-state money, muddying up the picture. A race I think people of this community who are subjected to a lot of television commercials are glad is over.

Wes Gullett: The race is 1800 votes right now. And the Libertarian got 10,000 votes. Which is a high number for a Libertarian. I believe that negative campaigning drove people to the Libertarian. I think they picked minimum you about. So what do we get? We get a very close race, probably a Democrat victory. It might make us rethink the idea about just tearing down. Maybe we sent too many pieces of mail with that leech on it, that was just a little ridiculous.

Ted Simons: So many pieces of mail in toto. Card after card after card. The idea of the Libertarian, the negative ads took their toll, what do you make of that?

Bob Grossfeld: I think the data on negative advertising is that it tends to suppress turnout. Especially on the part of the progressives. Libertarians, I think in this case, I know we were talking earlier about liberty Terrance, I know you get that Tempe kind of more progressive area anyway, there's just more Libertarians there. I would say a pox on both of them for what they have been doing.

Ted Simons: As far as this race is concerned, did any of that mud stick, do you think?

Jay Thorne: I think whoever emerges from this has to work very hard in a brand-new district and will have a very tight race next time. Regardless of which side loses, they will feel it's in reach next time around.

Ted Simons: And certain winners will just be able to buy a house in D.C. and get it over with, the winner of this race can't do it.

Wes Gullett: They need to buy a house in Tempe.

Wes Gullett: Both moved into the district and they are looking for real estate.

Ted Simons: If agents are watching, here's your chance.

Ted Simons: As we continue on this special edition of "Arizona Horizon," let's get now to state legislative races. A lot of things going on here. We have three or four that we want to focus on. In general, there is a super majority in the house, what does it look like so far?

Bob Grossfeld: It's still too early to tell. But it appears the effort to undo that, and at least get it out of the super majority has failed. And they will -- Republicans will be as strong as they were before the election.

Ted Simon: What about the Senate? What are we seeing there?

Bob Grossfeld: Pretty much the same thing.

Ted Simons: No split more like 17, 18, something along those lines?

Bob Grossfeld: So far it doesn't look like it.

Jay Thorne: If you're watching the national coverage tonight, you've heard a lot of talk about the outraged voter. And we've sent pretty much the same group back to D.C. and the White House that we had before. Same kind of thing here in Arizona. Much outrage as consternation, our legislative body and the direction of the state, pretty much have the same thing going back for next year.

Ted Simons: What does that mean, Wes? Are people just upset to be upset? What's going on out there?

Wes Gullett: I think it's a matter of choices and what kind of candidates you have: I think the redistricting, which was supposed to create some competitive districts, didn't as much as I think the unions had a big push to unseat Republicans in the Senate that. Failed. And the one guy they did get was the guy that took out Russell Pierce. Good way to go.

Ted Simons: We'll get to that race in a second. Next session, what kind of policy impact will we see if things hold up the way they are?

Wes Gullett: It's going to continue to be a very conservative legislature. You know, I think the way that everything shook out Steve pierce should be in good shape to be reelected Senate President. If that happens, he's a pro business, more moderate kind of guy.

Ted Simons: What do you make of the legislature if the super majority holds and there is no split, if the Republicans maintain control in the Senate?

Bob Grossfeld: I suspect first of all, that's what's going to happen.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Bob Grossfeld: And I think the first order of business when they pull everybody together, probably within a day or two, is retribution. Because there was a ton of money spent on trying to unseat Republican incumbents. I don't think they are going let that go buy.

Ted Simons: Who's wearing a target?

Bob Grossfeld: All the outside groups trying to change things.


Ted Simons: Policy impact if the legislature is as it looks now?

Jay Thorne: More of the same.

Ted Simons: Really?

Jay Thorne: Yes, yes.

Ted Simons: Alright,with that in mind let's take look at some select races here. We'll start with the one I believe you referred to, in District 26, this is Jerry Lewis against Ed Wilson, Jerry Lewis the Russell Pearce slayer. A lot of Democrats celebrating him and calling him a statesman and those sorts of things. He goes up against a Democrat in the general election and kablooey.

Wes Gullett: Yes and well he was re-districted into a democrat district in Tempe, basically a neighborhood kind of line thing where they put him in there, that was bad luck for him. He's now a former senator who defeated Russell Pearce.

Ted Simons: Hope they get these numbers here in a second for the Legislative district 26, these numbers weren't all that close Bob, I mean this wasn't that close of a race.

Bob Grossfeld: It was a Democratic district, and I think with only rare exception, any of us could have sat down, once the redistricting numbers came out, ranked ordered them. Okay, what's the zero difference between Democrats and Republicans all the way down to the 28th% 1 way or the other, and predicted the outcome. It was just almost put in concrete. And again, with rare exceptions.

Ted Simons: Jay, even for someone that was celebrated by lot of Democrats and a lot of independents?

Jay Thorne: I think this is one of the races, one of the examples of why the average person, which we are not, looks at politics and says, man, what a brutal, awful jungle that is. Here is a guy who was courageous, who stepped out at a time where he had a lot at stake, a lot of risk associated with that run. And people got behind him, supported him and a big change was made. A year later, bye-bye.


Wes Gullet: Part of it is the partisan nature of the whole thing. Everybody wanted him to take out Russell Pearce on the Democrat side. He got a lot of Democrat votes in that recall election; there is no question about it. When he's running against a Democrat, you know, we sided up tonight across America and put on our Rs and Ds and made our votes and that's how it broke down. There happens to be more Democrats in America than Republicans by about six or seven, I think.

Ted Simons: Well all right, we have another race of note here --


Wes Gullet: If you look at the popular vote.

Ted Simons: Yeah. As we look at district 18, this is Ahwatukee, Chandler. This was John McComish against Janie Hydrick. Bob I know you talked a little bit about this before the show. This was a race within a race within a race, correct?

Bob Grossfeld: Yes. There were efforts to attack McComish, support McComish, support Hydrick and oppose ‘em. The bullets were flying every which way and at the end of the day they stuck with the incumbent. So there was a whole lot of effort put into it, which in essence they could have saved a lot of money.

Ted Simons: Why was McComish targeted? Considered moderate, relatively easy to get along with down there. He had a big old target on his back. What happened there?

Jay Thorne: Yeah, same referring as we have heard before. The numbers said that was a place where you could possibly elect a Democrat. There was a lot of money and effort thrown at doing that, regardless of the fact that John McComish happens to be a pretty thoughtful, fairly moderate guy who has worked well with a lot of the constituents that are pro Democrat.

Wes Gullet: This is a guy who didn't vote, who helped kill the immigration bills, right? The business community and everybody else, you gotta do this, he stuck his neck out to help kill them, to do what everybody -- the right thing. Then the Democrats target him. And then the unions throw in $300,000 to try and knock him out. Probably the most expensive -- when we get done with the numbers it'll be the most expensive legislative race in the history of Arizona and they lost.

Jay Thorne: And those TV commercials.

Wes Gullet: They lost. So how about this, unions? Take your money and go to Nevada.

Ted Simons: Do you agree with Bob?


Bob Grossfeld: Where do you think the money came from?

Ted Simons: All right, let's keep it moving. Legislative District 6. This is an interesting race; Russell we'll have you come in on in a second. Chester Crandall and Tom Chabin, we have Tea Party versus Democrat. And I don't know Jay, are you surprised at the outcome?

Jay Thorne: Whether I am surprised or not, a lot of people were looking at this race and betting on it were surprised because they felt there would be, perhaps a Chabin victory, certainly something a lot closer than the results tonight that we saw.

Ted Simons: What do you make of this, Bob? We'll talk about an initaitive that Chester Crandall was involved in that went belly up pretty soundly yet he did very well for himself.

Bob Grossfeld: This was another race where there was an enormous amount of money spent, over $200,000 spent in support of Chabin, $111,000 spent opposing him. $33,000 in support of Crandall, $73,000 opposing him. At some point it all becomes mush and stick with an incumbent. Go with the voter registration.

Wes Gullet: I'll bet with the two candidates raised maybe $15,000 apiece. These are two extremes. So Chabin, probably the most liberal person in the state Senate, Crandall probably one of the most conservative members in the state Senate going against each other. It just played out the way the numbers work.

Ted Simons: Okay. Back to that old team stuff, the tribal thing. Legislative District 10 down in southern Arizona, Frank Antenori and David Bradley. And this was considered a relatively close race by some, turns out not so close when the ballots were counted.

Bob Grossfeld: A lot of money spent on Antenori and not a dime spent to help him. He was universally disliked on both sides of the aisle.

Ted Simons: It basically comes down to something like that huh?

Bob Grossfeld: I think so.

Ted Simons: What do you think Jay, you think people just didn't want to help?

Jay Thorne: I would not argue with Bob Grossfeld about what happens in a Democratic victory.


Wes Gullet: With all due respect to my friends here, I have to respectfully disagree. Antenori was the most huggable bear there ever was. David Bradley is a great guy, obviously the voters saw that. He is a 100% good guy. He was up against somebody who's a little prickly, sort of like a cholla.

Ted Simons: Ok. Let's move on. The Maricopa County sheriff's race, I don't see necessarily a connection there between what we were just talking about, but some might and some saw Paul Penzone as a serious contender in this race against Joe Arpaio. Bob, he wasn't.

Bob Grossfeld: He was more serious than anybody has been. He raised more money than anyone has. He probably spent it better than anybody has. But it's like trying to move a rock. Arpaio was not about to go anywhere and he had more money than anybody else could ever come up with. He had spots on the air that were just frankly amazing. He had one where he was in support of puppies and kittens. Another one, he was standing there with his wife and the wife was doing a testimonial for him. I don't think Joe said a word in that one.

Jay Thorne: Yeah, he may or may not be a very good sheriff. He's a very good politician.

Ted Simons: What makes him a very good politician?

Jay Thorne: So many things. He has staked out law and order turf that is impressive, and that is memorable. He is pleased to go against the grain, happy to do that. He's pretty savvy about the way he uses that office to gain media attention that's favorable, maybe not always to him but to law and order. I think people have responded to that over the years and defended him being attacked this time around.

Ted Simons: Wes, is it the kind of situation where he almost can do no wrong? I mean, there were some pretty serious allegations against him.

Wes Gullet: Yes, absolutely. The sheriff, this was a brilliant campaign. You take one of the most conservative men in America and you cuddle him up with dogs and kittens and bring his wife out. He moved to the middle. I saw an ad where he started the high school for juvenile detainees. He is playing exactly who he needed to do play to, Republican women. He made sure that he didn't lose any of those. They kept the third party guy in the race. How they did that, I have no idea. When you have $7 million anything's possible. That third party guy closed the door on Penzone. So closed the door on his fund-raising, they closed the door on him getting more traction, because everybody knew Penzone couldn't win in a three-way race. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant campaign.

Bob Grossfeld: The theory that I just keep coming around to with Arpaio, is that he provides the people of this county with something that they can't do themselves. And that's this sense of we're going beat up on the bad guys. He does what they can't do. So it's a way for people to express their anger, their outrage, in a way that is relatively safe. He is their guy. They will overlook almost anything because he allows that to happen.

Ted Simons: Speaking of overlooking almost anything down in Pinal County the sheriffs race there, Paul Babeu apparently is going to be reelected. I am not sure if we have numbers on that, I think we do. Is that a surprise considering the baggage there, the heavy baggage?

Jay Thorne: It is to me, it is to me.

Ted Simons: That's not even close, that's 20 points.

Jay Thorne: I don't live in Pinal County so I don't profess to understand every single thing about that place. But I think Bob's review of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's strengths may be the same sort of characteristics and the same need to feel like there's something we can do. And a guy who's being tough that we can support. Again, he is another sheriff who has used that office and the media very effectively. He's very aggressive and has been very smart but for one huge mistake.

Ted Simons: But not a big enough mistake, apparently.

Jay Thorne: Probably not.

Wes Gullet: And that's a County that's changing dramatically. They are becoming more conservative, there are more Republicans. And that's something that we're going to watch over time, because if Pinal County -- Pinal County used to be Pima County, Santa Cruz County, Pinal County were the strengths of the Democratic party in Arizona. That is, obviously those days are obviously done. Now you've got Cochise County, used to be a conservative Democrat county, now it's a conservative Republican County. Pinal County, our friend, the County attorney is getting beat as well, Jim Walsh, fantastic guy, well respected, well liked, good guy, no scandals guy is getting beat. Again, went back to the tribes.
Ted Simons: Yeah.

Wes Gullet: We've got -- so now you've got Mohave, Yavapai, Pinal, Cochise County, rural counties that are conservative Republican counties. That's going to change the gubernatorial map in 2014.

Ted Simons: Oh, interesting! That's something interesting to think about. We've got propositions to look at right now. Well go through some of these fairly quickly. We'll start with Prop 114 - the crime victims liability idea; exempts victims from liability from damages. And this thing just won humongously. Is anyone surprised by this?

Wes Gullet: No.

Bob Grossfeld: No.

Jay Thorne: Nope.

Ted Simons: No, alight then we'll move on.

Wes Gullet: Move on.

Ted Simons: We'll go to Prop 115. This one we had a debate here on Arizona Horizon regarding getting more control in the governor's office in terms of making a screening panel judges. Some said this is a model for the nation, why are we messing with it. Others want to see a few more names up there for consideration. Wes, most folks said, let's not mess with it.

Wes Gullet: They certainly did, I likened it to, if you liked the replacement refs in the NFL, you'd love screwing with our judicial system. A lot of people got that and said, absolutely not. This was massive.

Ted Simons: Yeah and Bob, are we going to see another attempt down the line; lawmakers more involved with judicial selection and retention?

Bob Grossfeld: Well, to the extent that lawmakers are out here and still tripping out on this idea of the judicial activism, sure, they will want to get as much control as they can over everything.

Ted Simons: Yeah. What do you think Jay? This, this issue over?

Jay Thorne: Yeah,I think Arizona is not as crazy as some people think it is. These initiatives come from extreme places. The vast majority of us really don't want to mess with the judicial system.

Ted Simons: Personal property tax break for businesses, basically increases the exemption there. And I don't know, a little surprised, anyone else surprised this went down? Is this pretty much what you thought?

Wes Gullet: This is an example where you've got to run a campaign. There were a few signs up that said -- you got to explain it a little bit. People didn't know what it meant so they voted no.

Ted Simons: Next one, 117, may apply to that one, as well, terms of the limit on property tax growth, however, maybe everyone was watching "Arizona Horizon" when we had a debate on this, Bob, because they understand it and they like it.

Bob Grossfeld: It can lower or keep my property taxes from going up. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read through the little paragraph about that one.

Ted Simons: Even though some folks says it disproportionately hits lower, middle income families and/or homes? That's gone too far?

Bob Grossfeld: That's where what Wes said comes into play. There wasn't a campaign.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Prop 118 - Investment Formula Change regarding the K-12 system; trying to find some sort of a steady funding system. You talk about complicated and confusing. And that's why maybe it's so close. Look at that, you can't get any closer than that.

Bob Grossfeld: That's close.

Wes Gullet: Yeah.

Jay Thorne: You have to be in Florida.

Bob Grossfeld: It has the word state trust land in it. That's the way those always turn out.

Ted Simons: Is that it? Is that it? Well the next one has those words in there as well. Prop 119, this involves exchanges for state trust lands. This was a little clearer in the sense that you helped military bases, installations, by trading out land that is close to them. Jay, is this better explained at least?

Jay Thorne: There is vocabulary in there that's compelling, and ---

Ted Simons: Yes.

Jay Thorne: And that I think carried the day. Again, not that much of a campaign with that one.

Ted Simons: Yeah, that one's big and I know a lot of people were in support of that one. We couldn't get a good debate on it because we couldn't find anyone really against it.

Ted Simons: Prop 120, we did have a debate on this one, an interesting debate; but a debate nonetheless. This is the idea that Arizona is free of the federal government in terms of air, land, natural resources. Bob, there's no chance?

Bob Grossfeld: No. And we should all thank God for this one that it's going down; because had it passed, I have no idea what the legislature would have done with it.

Ted Simons: Yeah Jay, you were talking about people don't think -- Arizona maybe not as crazy. If this had passed?

Jay Thorne: Well we would have to reverse it.

Ted Simons: Yeah. But it didn't pass and yet, Wes, this is just a Crandall right here and this idea goes down in flames. And he ended up winning big.

Wes Gullet: Yeah, it's a good thing Chester wasn't running statewide.

Ted Simons: Alright, we'll keep that in mind. Now let's get to some major propositions here. Prop 121, the top two 2 primary, the changing nature of elections in Arizona. Jay, this would have really changed things a lot. It was 2-1, it had no chance.

Jay Thorne: As the independent in the group, I can that the folks who give themselves the center or would like six of those congressional districts to actually have races in November were in favor of this. There was a lot of debate about it. The campaign was well organized and well funded but had to spent a great deal of its money getting signatures compiled and fighting off legal challenges. By the time they got to the election they didn't have a lot of bucks left. It like independent redistricts at that time, that is complicated the more you talk about it. The idea is simple but the more you talk about it the more complicated it gets. A funded opposition came in against it and positioned it as you losing your choice in the general election. They defeated it.

Ted Simons: Bob, what about this idea that Arizona is a maverick state, try something new and try something different. This is new and different; but no one wanted to try it.

Jay Thorne: It was too new, too different. It was changing the fundamental nature of an election. You know, most people, I think their concept of what is an election frankly goes back to elementary school. You know, your class president. You know you got two people up there, you pick one; end of it. This is really turning everything on its head. Everybody running at one time and I'm going take those two. I thought it was just too much.

Jay Thorne: Which is actually what you do in grade school. 12 people decide they want to run for student council, narrow it down to two and then pick somebody.

Bob Grossfeld: It was narrowed before they got up there. We pulled them aside and said, you don't want to be doing that.

Jay Thorne: You went to a union high school.

Wes Gullet: Part of the issue was that we saw what happened in California. And there was some gaming that went on with it, people didn't really trust California style elections. That's a place that's completely screwed up. I feel bad for my friend Paul Johnson, I really feel bad for Paul but this just wasn't going to happen. The campaign wasn't able to focus the attention on exactly what it did. And both parties were against it. So you had -- so maybe those 30% are the independents that voted in the election.

Ted Simons: You've got both parties against this, for some people maybe it's not such a bad idea.

Jay Thorne: That was the campaign's point. That maybe if both parties are against this, it must be doing exactly what it should be doing. They didn't get the message out strong enough, loud enough, far enough for that to work.

Bob Grossfeld: But we should not ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room, which is an enormous amount of money poured in at the last minute to try and kill it off. And ---

Ted Simons: And, we don't know where that came from, do we?

Bob Grossfeld: Well, I think we are going to find out soon. I suspect it all lines back up with the Koch brothers. Or Coke brothers.

Ted Simons: Coke bothers. I believe, yes, but…

Bob Grossfeld: I think they just spell it worng.

Ted Simons: Yeah, but will we ever see this again; this idea floated out there again?

Wes Gullet: It's Arizona, we've got tinker with our elections. We try to make it perfect and we just make it worse. Every time we reform our state the way we run our state elections, we get more extreme. So how about this - let's just leave it alone for a while. Maybe we can repeal a couple of things.

Ted Simons: What do you think, Jay? Ever see this again?

Jay Thorne: I doubt it.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Jay Thorne: I very much doubt it. This was pushed by group of people I don't think have enough fuel left in the tank to take another run at it. I think Wess's point is good, Arizona seldom says - hey, California is doing that, let's try that.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Prop 204, another biggy. You talk about money coming in and going out. This one had lots of money. And Bob, again, it seemed as though just judging from the outside - We could have had a little bit of a race here, it could have been close. It's not remotely close. Extends the temporary sales tax to make it permanent. The word tax, Bob, is that what we're looking at here?

Bob Grossfeld: That's what killed it. At a time when the economy is still hovering around difficulty, try raising taxes.

Jay Thorne: And I think when somebody comes to you and says, hey, this is a temporary tax, we're going do this for a few years to fix the problem and it'll go away. And then people come back and try to make it permanent, there's something more to it than just the tax. That's a bad thing. But anytime you say we are going to do this and then you change your mind and say, you know we are going to keep doing what we said we would only do temporarily. There's a, there's a truth telling problem.

Wes Gullet: Talk about a horrible campaign. They never told us what the money was going to go for. All the negative had to do was say, this money is not going go for -- we have no idea where the moneys going to go. It's going to a pollitt bureau that is going to decide whether it goes to an education, it goes to building new roads, or building new schools; they never focused on the kid that was going to benefit. And that's what you gotta do when you raising a tax. You gotta say here's the good that we're going to do. We will be so much better. We are gonna show some optimism, focus the attention. And what did they do?
They had signs that said - Vote Yes on 204. Ok? No, we're not going vote yes on 204 because we don't know what it is. It was s disaster, a disaster.

Ted Simons: Not specific enough as far as the political group is concerned? Or not specific enough as to where the money would go?

Bob Grossfeld: Not specific in any way, shape or form.

Ted Simons: Just a bad campaign?

Bob Grossfeld: Yeah, Wes is right. You gotta at least tell people. Here's the benefit for you. Here's what you get out of this because it's a transaction. All of these things are tractional. We will ask you to video for they and here what's you get from it. And they never made that case.

Ted Simons: Was that done Jay with Prop 100, the temporary tax that did go through? With gang busters? This one almost …

Jay Thorne: We have some pretty powerful political personalities who were a part of it who helped us solve that message. They gave it credibility.

Ted Simons: And that made a difference, didn't it?

Jay Thorne: Absolutely.

Wes Gullet: Yeah, and that went back to the governor's race. He ran the campaign against it. It puts him front and center in that gubernatorial race in two years on the Republican side anyway. Because now you can go out and talk to any Republican group and say, I'm the guy that killed that billion-dollar a year forever tax.

Ted Simons: Wasn't that a raod map used by one Benetton few years ago?

Wes Gullet: You know it's a road map that works.

Ted Simons: Okay, we'll keep an eye on Doug Deucy. Quickly, this is a municipal vote here - Prop 457 in Glendale. I wanted to bring this up because Glendale City Council basically said, we're going to raise -- the council itself hadn't done it in twenty years, the voters had done that a few times. For the first time in 20 years the council actually raised the sales tax and then you had a group saying, oh, no, you're not going do that. Bob, this is somewhat confusing. Yes means no and no means yes on this? What happened to the sales tax in Glendale?

Bob Grossfeld: Welcome to Wonderland. A no vote was to keep the tax. And as I had mentioned earlier, I had done some polling on that over the last several weeks. It was very consistent from the get-government people understood what it was. They weren't confused by the no means yes and yes means no. I. Most of that came about because of what was put out to them and probably well-conceived. As if you don't do this, this will mean major cuts to service. Now often times government use that as a kind of an empty threat. This time I think they thought this was real.

Ted Simons: Jay, is this one of those times where you talk and better be specific about what that tax deals with?

Jay Thorne: well, I think there's history on this issue and there's been a lot of light shed on this issue. And as Bob said, voters were well informed and knew what they were doing.

Ted Simons: And what about the mayor's race out there? Is Weiers going to win that race?

Wes Gullet: It looks like Jerry Weiers is going to win; which makes sense. There were two conservatives and one liberal running in the primary, Weiers won, the other conservative lost. Weiers had the plurality at the beginning. The more conservative guy's votes went to Weiers. I think this was done on primary election night, just a matter of getting to 50%.

Bob Grossfeld: Weiers also swamped Manny Cruz with money. It's another one of those situations. I don't disagree with the overall analysis but it's another situation where money is just running rampant around here.

Ted Simons: Yeah, and it's not going to change.

Bob Grossfeld: Not that I can see.

Ted Simons: All right. Corporation commission, we don't want to forget this because we had a lot of people running for three open seats, and running as teams Bob. You can't get more tribal than this. Republicans as a team, Democrats as a team and it looks like Team Red wins.

Bob Grossfeld: Yeah, exactly. This might have been a chance for the Democrats not to run as a team because they just got outnumbered. Part of it was this Romney victory. I mean 13 points pretty -- more than John McCain winning his own state in 2008. And that carries down the ticket they saw the R down by their names. Sounds liked Democrats tried to run on that, and they are not going to win on that.

Ted Simons: What happened to that commitment to solar energy, and everyone in Arizona needs green this and solar that. Sounds like the Democrats tried to run on that. Looks like Bob, they are not going to win on that?

Bob Grossfeld: I'm not sure it has anything to do with that issue in particular. I think Wes is right, this is just a straight party line vote. This is the kind of vote that in the next year or the year after will be used by those of us in politics, this is the true measure of Republican or Democratic support and everything else will be gauged against that. Usually it's like the Secretary of State's race.

Jay Thorne: We've talked a bit about the mechanics of some of these races based on the numbers. This is another case where you have to run as a team, you don't have to, but people feel like they have to. Because if you run clean in a statewide race, you have very limited resources. So if you blend them together, taht money goes farther and that's the catch on each side. And you know the Republicans numbers in Arizona are better than the democratic numbers.

Ted Simons: And no matter--- so basically, you saying that no matter the issue, whether its solar or whether burning trash is actually green energy, things are tried to be approached. But it didn't really make that much difference in the tribal world out there?

Jay Thorne: And the solar market is softening in this state and the politics is nationally subsidizing and incentivizing solar energy. So solar energy taking a hit was successful for the democrats. So that issue does not carry as far as it used to.

Wes Gullet: I saw the ad from the solar team, I thought it was a great ad. And the polling two weeks ago, had a lot of Republicans nervous because the Democrats were doing very well. As a matter of fact, of the polling I saw, there were two Democrats winning and one Republican in two Republicans were out. So that race tightened up in the end I think people just went back to where they were supposed to go.

Ted Simons: Did it tightened up because of money? Semmes to be your theme tonight.

Bob Grossfeld: I'm not sure so sure in this one about the money, I think this was a straight party line vote.

Ted Simons: Well, we've gone through some of the major voters here in Arizona. Wess, let's start with you. Just an overall impression. Demographics, we talked about how Arizona is a bastion of democrats. So we are surrounded by a lot of blue, Latino votes. Just general impressions of what we saw tonight and what we will see in the future.

Wes Gullet: I think we had a polarized election. I think that the country was polarized; I think there was a very clear choice between the President and Mitt Romney on policy. But it was polarizing in that it was so even, just right across. In Arizona we have more conservatives than we do have -- and I don't even want to say liberals. Arizona liberal is a Massachusetts conservative.

Ted Simons: So we have more conservatives than we do non-conservatives. Why?

Wes Gullet: I think we've been hit by the recession, I think the income levels are down, job creation is slow. We're not seeing the kind of recovery that we want to. People are used to flying fast and high during the real estate boom. And when it broke it really sobered people up. I think that sobriety makes you a lot more conservative. People are really worried about the economic future and they want to see a very conservative approach.

Bob Grossfeld: General impressions of what you saw tonight, Bob.

Bob Grossfeld: Millions and millions of dollars floating down swamping people right and left, and without any sense as to who's really behind it. And it's only going to get worse.

Ted Simons: Do the millions and millions of dollars make that much of a difference.

Bob Grossfeld: It can, I'm not sure it does. But it does enough to set to influence people on how they feel about elections, how they feel about the government, how they feel about the people who are going to be running things. It is getting worse. I think we should all be concerned about that.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, does Arizona--- I mean I remember years ago when Napolitano was governor and there was talk that Arizona would be blue in no time, it certainly is purple and those sort of things. It has moved conservative. Can it become even more conservative?

Bob Grossfeld: I don't think there is room to make it more conservative. I think at some point we wind up with the Mad Hatter at a Tea Party as opposed to where we are at now.

Ted Simons: Jay, your general thoughts on what you saw tonight; in Arizona and around the country. Around the country, it sounds like demographics are starting to show -democrtic, oh, it's late -- a shift out there. Are you seeing that? And what are you seeing here?

Jay Thorne: I started off working in Democratic campaigns in Arizona. There were the great stories of Raul Castro winning the state because the Navajo, and then the Navajo saves the Democratic party. The next story was the rising population in the Latino community is going to save the Democratic Party in Arizona. I believe they are conservative and they can impact that all they want. But this is a conservative state. Overall I think the Republican Party has a deep bench of quality candidates, they run good campaigns. They have some very good people who run those campaigns and the Democrats are still playing catch-up. That's been the story and continues to be the story. And what I said earlier, there's this general fight between Arizona being its own independent decision-making populist place and the federal government in Washington tries to tell us what to do.

Ted Simons: So with just a couple of minutes left, let try to go around the table relatively quickly here. The big winner tonight, the big loser tonight in Arizona.

Wes Gullet: I think the big winner is Jeff Flake. I think the big loser is yet to be seen, because I think it's too early to tell what's going to happen in District 9. I think whoever loses that is the big loser. Because that campaign was so personal, it was so nasty. I think that loser of that race is done.

Ted Simons: And it looks like it's still close but Kyrsten Sinema has a slight lead over Vernon Parker. Bob, big winner and big looser tonight in Arionza?

Bob Grossfeld: I think the big winner was the House and Senate Republican caucuses who maintained their positions as far as we can tell. The big loser I suspect is -- I hate to go back to the money thing --but it's just the nature of our elections. Which are being fundamentally changed by that much money.

Ted Simons: And is that is going to change? What can change that?

Bob Grossfeld: Well, I suspect some real outside the box thinking that is the kind that led to for instance the number of states, Texas being one of them, no limits. Take as much money as you're going to take from anybody but immediate reporting as a way of moving around the outside money. The outside money is filling a vacuum.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Jay, last word here, big winner and big loser.

Jay Thorne: I think Jeff Flake may be the big winner here. Election day is still an amazing thing that happens in this country. We get to have these fights in public, sometimes we don't know where the money comes from, sometimes we don't like it, but we've all gone, we've all spoken, we moved forward and made decisions. The big losers, I think moderates and independents lost tonight.

Ted Simons: Isn't that interesting?

Jay Thorne: Yeah.

Ted Simons: After all the talk about moderation. Okay, gentlemen, thank you so much for staying up late with us, and great insightful thoughts. Good to have you, thanks for joining us.

Bob Grossfeld: Pleasure to be here.

Wes Gullet: Thank you.

Jay Thorne: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Coming up tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," join us for more post election news and analysis. We'll hear from political consultants Stan Barnes and John Laredo. That's Wednesday evening 5:30 and 10, right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. Thank you so much for staying up late with us. I'm Ted Simons, you have a great morning.

Wes Gullett:Political Consultant, FirstStrategic; Bob Grossfeld:Political Consultant, The Media Guys; Jay Thorne:Political Consultant, Jay Thorne Incorporated;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
aired April 18

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

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

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: