Journalists’ Roundtable

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Ted Simons: Coming up next on Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable. The Governor vetoes SB-1062 after hearing from local and national business and political leaders, and Ed pastor announces his retirement. The Journalists' Roundtable is next on "Arizona Horizon".

Narrator: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon" Journalists' Roundtable, I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times, Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal, and Bob Christie of the Associated Press. The saga of SB-1062 ends with a veto from the Governor. And a lot of folks wondering how a bill that made Arizona look so bad to so many, got to the Governor's desk in the first place. Jeremy, first of all the veto, no surprise there at all.

Jeremy Duda: No, I think the day after this past. Some thought that she would sign it, but after four or five days of intensive national, and international press coverage, and mass protests out on the house lawn, you know, business leaders, from all over the country urging her to veto it, the Super Bowl under threat, by then, the writing is on the wall by the time that she called everyone up for that Press Conference.

Ted Simons: When she did, I thought that she seemed a bit peeved having to go through this.

Mike Sunnucks: She was back in D.C. when this hit the fan and everything, and I think that there was miscommunication maybe between the folks who wanted the bill, supported bill and the Governor's office, whether there was any red lights or stop signs, she was going to take longer in the week to do this, and obviously, the publicity was so bad, and when the NFL starts talking about, about things, the ghost starts to creep into the, into the State Capitol.

Ted Simons: And she did note that this is the first policy bill you send me? That was there in the address.

Bob Christie: That was there in the address. And she was very clear about it. What are you guys doing down there? I laid out my policies in the state of the state address, and I said give me economic development, and give me CPS overhaul, and give me a budget. None of it came up to her and said that they fast tracked the bill.

Ted Simons: Were you surprised that she -- some folks wonder why she waited so long and others thought that she would wait until the weekend, but if you are going to veto that thing, veto it now.

Jeremy Duda: But she was out of town, and until Tuesday, you know, Wednesday, she finally had her chance to meet with the supporters and opponents of this, and I think that she wanted to sit down with them and talk it out and explain what she was thinking, and I thought that she might wait until the next day but that night, she got that over with as soon as she could.

Ted Simons: And reality versus rhetoric. We had a couple of stories here now. What did the bill actually say, and what was the perception? I think that we can all agree the perception of that bill was horrible, but what did the bill say?

Mike Sunnucks: The perception was that, so a gay couple or a religious minority walks into a restaurant, and the owner tells him I don't want to serve you, because it goes against my faith. Backers will say, it was just meant to mesh with existing federal and state religious liberty laws, it was meant to address this, this New Mexico case where the photographer was fined for not shooting same sex marriage. There are differences between our statutes and their statutes. They were saying we plenty to update the existing law. Obviously, the reality, of the image of the bill is one out.

Jeremy Duda: The only place that, where this would have matter, and I think a lot of us got lost in the debate, was in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. Those are the only cities where sexual orientation is a protected class in terms of the discrimination laws. And Tempe as of yesterday, as well. In the rest of the state, nothing would have changed, that's not a protected class. You cannot seek for discrimination, unlike in New Mexico where the one example that anyone could present about why they felt that was needed, that's the place this came from.

Mike Sunnucks: Phoenix is the precursor to this. You had the bill last year and the archdiocese had a problem with. The bathroom bill they called it where Phoenix expanded the discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This built out of that. But they had such a reaction to what they were going to get, and the opponents of this, cast it with the media and with folks on Facebook, as you are a religious minority, you are gay or lesbian, and you are going to walk into a dry cleaners and they are not going to take your business.

Bob Christie: And the sponsor of the bill didn't do themselves any favor because they kept holding up the New Mexico case, which allowed a photography studio to be sued for denying service to a gay couple, who wanted them to take pictures. Well, that could not happen in Arizona, but they wanted this bill anyway. But, as soon as they put the fact that, that gays were involved and they were trying to block service to gays, I think that the world has changed, and they now know it. They did not know it before.

Jeremy Duda: And the supporters of the bill bristled at the description of it. Anti-gay, said this is to protect all -- religious liberties but struggled to come up with examples that were not related to gay marriage where this would apply, and there is really off the wall stuff like people might sue a Jewish caterer for not serving bacon. You talk to attorneys and they will say that's ludicrous. That can't happen.

Mike Sunnucks: The opponents leverage Facebook, got the media to, to go on with their argument, and the supporters of this really didn't have anybody else out there, had Cathy Herrod, and Al Melvin's ill-fated Anderson Cooper interview but you did not see the legislative leaders, you didn't see folks on that side other than CAP really defend this thing.

Ted Simons: Why was that? The legislature voted this, this is the second straight year they voted this through, and obviously, there were more yeas than nays. Where were the yeas?

Bob Christie: They saw the snowball rolling down the hill and they stopped. There was some opposition in the Senate among the Republicans. They put a united front together. You don't break with a caucus. They voted for it. And they immediately said, oh, boy, did we make a mistake. Then it got to the house, and three Republicans did break and did not vote for it.

Ted Simons: Talk about those Republicans now, as far as the caucus is concerned. Talk about the caucus. How fractured is it now?

Bob Christie: This is as fractured as it was last year during the Medicaid expansion fight. This is the same group of Republicans who try to portray themselves in, and many would say they are, more sensible, more pragmatic, realizing that Arizona is not going to stand for these, these bills that, that are really a tax on, a great part of the people.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing that Republican caucus fractured as much as they hoped it would not happen because of there?

Jeremy Duda: Possibly, you usually see unified support for the bills. They are tremendously influential, and now you are starting to hear some people say well, we're going to look at their bills a little wearier now, and I don't know that it's quite as bad as with Medicaid but, you saw the three Republican senators, and they said we regret voting for this. We had some reservations, a bad idea and, and --

Ted Simons: Are they getting the cold shoulder? What's going on?

Jeremy Duda: I don't know. This is all -- the dust is still kind of settling, so we have yet to see. But, it could be.

Mike Sunnucks: I think that they are shell shocked down there. He's focused on running for Congress, you got Andy Tobin who's running for Congress and I think this will hurt him.

Ted Simons: I'm trying to figure out his response to it. I'm not sure.

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah. So, you have him, and you have -- the image was Al Melvin on Anderson Cooper not really understanding the questions, and what Republican legislators were running from a CNN reporter, and also the Daily Show segments, basically, making fun of them. None of them really came out to address it. People that voted for something and came back and, and asked the Governor to veto the same bill. They looked incompetent and hateful at the same time.

Ted Simons: Not only that, but I think Driggs kept saying it was mischaracterized, not if it were right or wrong, but mischaracterized. They are demonizing the reaction as opposed to saying we made a mistake because we made a mistake.

Bob Christie: I think that that's a sincerely held belief among many Republicans. This has been mischaracterized by the media. And that we are trying to protect the religious people from what they see is a real attack on their rights. And I think that those are heartfelt beliefs, and they don't understand what happened, and what happened, as I said, is the world has changed. There is seven or eight of them around the country and, and not one of them is going to move.

Mike Sunnucks: And the Rush Limbaugh, they are upset with the media, what they see as a mischaracterization. But, they did not -- there was nobody that stepped forward besides Kathy. No legislative leaders that this is what we think the bill was and it was a vacuum.

Ted Simons: And talk about now how this would impact the primaries coming up, the general coming up, and is this something that's gone now in a couple of months and no one thinks it, or has the Earth shifted a bit.

Jeremy Duda: In any competitive race, I'm sure that the Democrats will use that as a bludgeon against their opponents, and you see Ann Kirkpatrick doing that to Tobin, should he win that. The Republican primaries, it's harder. We saw one poll, quick and dirty, auto dial poll, but showed the majority saying they wanted the Governor to veto it, and today we saw John Cavanaugh, a house rep from Fountain Hills whose running for the Senate, and he got the opponent, and he was hitting him over the 1062 vote.

Bob Christie: And the Republican party is going, what are you doing? We have -- we're on, on -- you are off our talking points, and we cannot attack this segment of the population, if we want their support in November. You know, stop it. And the message was loud and clear, John McCain, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney said no, veto, veto.

Ted Simons: And are there other bills of similar consequence that could make for a similar reaction?

Mike Sunnucks: Well, you have a same sex one that would give people to officiate weddings and other folks the ability to get out of that. I don't know if that will have the same kind of firestorm, but the way this was characterized was, a certain person walks into a store or bar or restaurant and they are not served because of that, and that goes back to Jim Crow and those images. If you are talking about a religious ceremony, I don't know if that will stir up the same controversy.

Bob Christie: Except, that bill does a lot more than just say, a pastor doesn't have to officiate, which is in the First Amendment, no reason for the bill. It also extends it to anyone who officiates weddings, was being judged. The Justice of the peace, the county clerks at the courthouse can say nope, I'm not doing it.

Jeremy Duda: And you know, the sponsor of that bill, Steve has been trying to portray this, as well, it's for the clergy, but, obviously, like you mentioned, it goes much further, and remember, all these folks who organized these 500-person protests at a moment's notice, they are all still there and watching this, too, and I think it will be interesting to see if the House, actually, continues to move this forward, and the House and the Senate, and it never goes, if it goes to the Governor, I don't know if it would be the same intensity but will put the spotlight back on Arizona.

Ted Simons: Let's get used to saying, HBb-2481. It does not have the same ring but could this be the next 1062?

Mike Sunnucks: I don't think it will have the same momentum, and I think that they will lay low on those types of bills. Especially after the Governor's admission about they have nothing on CPS, and here's what they said. They sent it to me when I'm in D.C. and put the state in this image, so I think that they will step back from this a bit.

Ted Simons: Impact of this on other activity at the capitol? Both now and, and in the future? What are you seeing? Have things slowed or sideways here?

Bob Christie: The house had, had a six or seven-hour debate session yesterday where they ran through 20, 30 or 40 bills, and I lost count. And, and the legislature is doing its work, this was a distraction for the week, and they have got to recoup, and they are going to do half of that calendar on Monday in the house that they did not get to. Now they are at the point where they are starting to, to send bills back to the other chamber, that have started, but there are a couple of other track bills that, that we may have to watch for.

Ted Simons: Impact relationship between the Governor and the legislature. Has that changed because of this?

Jeremy Duda: It could. She was not too happy with it, and we'd been hearing from Republican lawmakers that she was irritate this all happened, you know, especially while she was in Washington, and they, they intentionally fast tracked this bill through. Knowing, it was well-known that she would be out at the state later in the week. So, I think that, that they might be more cautious in terms of what they send over.

Ted Simons: Will she be more vocal or, more clear in the fact that, don't do this to me until we get better policy bills coming down the pipeline?

Jeremy Duda: It could be. She's done that the last two years, you know, when the legislature wasn't sending her a budget or Medicaid expansion or whatever it is that she wanted to see. Threatening to, to veto anything that they send here until that, and we saw five vetoes, including the precursor bill to SB-1062. We'll have to see if it gets that far, but she's made her priorities clear.

Mike Sunnucks: It will be interesting to see if this helps her get CPS through, the conservative conceptive, dies down because of this, or, what the people really took it hard this time. They really looked bad, really getting nailed, and, and she was part of that, and she admonished them in front of everybody. Is there payback, is this a two-way street? So, we want to see how this works out.

Ted Simons: Winners and losers in this? We know that the legislature was, in toto, were losers, obviously Republicans, not Democrats, but in total, and winners and losers?

Bob Christie: You know, it's a mixed bag. Arizona is the big loser, obviously. We have a black eye in the eyes of the nation once again. And it went on for so many days that, that, you know, there is -- it will take a while to get over that. In the legislature, like Mike said, Andy Tobin who's running for Congress may have to deal with this. Eddie Farnsworth, who might have aspirations to be speaker, maybe he takes a hit off it. I think the conservative wing of the Republican party, they are going to take a hit all the way across.

Ted Simons: Can you count Democrats as winners? This almost seemed like it was a Republican interparty squabble here.

Jeremy Duda: Oh, sure, and for the Republicans, who, who, you know, were opposed to it, or switched sides, and it is, for a lot of the public it might be guilt by association. We have some sources saying it's one of the big winners, might be Fred Duval, the democratic nominee for Governor. Even though almost all of the Republican candidates for Governor came out against this, you know, voters might still associate this as a Republican issue, and Fred Duval was the most vocal gubernatorial candidate against it.

Ted Simons: Almost but not all Republican candidates for Governor came out against this. Al Melvin who obviously has made a name for himself with the Anderson Cooper interview. Andrew Thomas, I believe, I don't remember him coming out against this, but I don't remember him coming out for this.

Mike Sunnucks: He was surprisingly quiet, and he's been more used to dealing with the media than Allen, and you think he might have taken this advantage of this, and he didn't. I think Scott Smith was kind of the first and the most vocal on this, so I think that he may be a winner, at least with the business community and some of the moderates, and I agree that statewide Democrats, Fred Duval and other folks running, will, will get a bump from this because I think that a lot of voters, they won't look at the legislative races because they are not sure who everybody is, but any frustrations that they have with the Republican politics, they may vote that in, and the A.G.'s race and the Governor's race.

Bob Christie: And Doug Doozy, who is one of the front runners for the Republican gubernatorial primary, stumbled right out of the gate, and when everybody else on Friday night was sending out statements saying, we don't support this. We want the Governor to veto the sent out one, or his people did, saying I've been on the road campaigning, I haven't read the bill, and hours later, finally.

Jeremy Duda: And remember who was endorsing Doug and part of his advisory team is Kathy --

Ted Simons: Tell us who Kathy Herrod is, and why -- obviously, it's her baby. This was her baby, and SB-1062, why is she so powerful? Does she -- is it money? Is it, is it -- what's going on with her?

Jeremy Duda: It depends on who you ask. There are 501c nonprofit, which means they cannot give money to candidates or run independent expenditures. They send out a voter guide every year showing all lawmakers and candidates how they voted on key center for Arizona policy issues, and that goes out to a lot of people. You talk to a lot of Republicans at the capitol, they will say that they have so much power because people believe in the issues. And I think that after a while, they have earned such a reputation for being invincible down there, that I think it has become self-perpetuating to the point that some people may be afraid to break ranks, and maybe that changes now.

Mike Sunnucks: She's willing to take chances. She lost but she's willing to take chances. She's aggressive and she fills a void where others don't want to step in. You saw the LDS church didn't take a stand, the catholic conference did but archdiocese stays away from this. So these are the issues that revolve around the social right, Cap has stepped in and represents a broader coalition, so she is willing to, to lead these things, and sometimes she's a winner, and obviously this time she lost.

Bob Christie: People are scared to cross her, there is no doubt that the Republicans are scared to cross her.

Ted Simons: Why are they afraid to cross her?

Bob Christie: If you are a Republican in the State of Arizona and you get painted as anti-religion or pro-gay or, you know, pro-abortion, in any fashion, you have problems. And I think that it's really clear that, that Kathy has the power to do that.

So, does she still have the power to do that after this?

Jeremy Duda: Probably still a lot of power, but it might be a little diminished. Like I mentioned earlier, we have heard some lawmakers saying they are going to, to be a little weary of her bills, and read them closer because they don't want to see, you know, another flare up like we saw the past week.

Ted Simons: And this week, before all of this, really came to a head here, we had the Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court saying we're not going to mess with this, another bill from CAP, that got through the legislature, and the Governor, this is the idea of funding abortion providers even if, if you are not saying that they are using those funds for, for abortion.

Mike Sunnucks: There is Medicaid money going to Planned Parenthood, and even if they say that they are using the money for something else, Planned Parenthood provides screen and goes those things, education campaigns, and Planned Parenthood is on the ex-list for the, the pro-life crowd, and you see in this bill and other states, Arizona lost on this one, but, I think you will see the abortion bills come up, you may see less of the religious liberty and less of the gay rights, because the shift in the country, but I think that abortion really delineates where people end up in a lot of parties, and a lot of people, Republicans, because of that issue, so I still think they have power on that, and maybe some of the other issues much like the 1062, you will see this.

Bob Christie: But you also have to remember this is the second abortion bill that the Supreme Court turned away, you know, to this session, in December, it was the 24-week abortion ban, which clearly went against the Supreme Court precedent, which is 24 weeks, and it passed the legislature anyway, and the state has been, spent hundreds of thousands dollars defending it, and they lost, and it's a cap bill.

Ted Simons: Ed Pastor, announces his retirement after years in, and he succeeded Mo Udal. A steady presence there, and very good for transportation, bringing federal dollars in. And such a legacy, and yet, I thought that I could hear the screams and the howls from my office of folks looking to succeed Ed Pastor. This is going to be quite an effort, isn't it?

Jeremy Duda: It could be. We have heard, you know, there must have been two dozen names floated yesterday as people who, possible candidates that run for that. Only three so far have made it definitive, Mary Rose Wilcox, longtime county supervisor, who actually replaced Ed pastor when he got -- won the congressional seat. And you have a house Republican Ruben Gallego and Senator Steve Gallardo, but you have heard a ton of other names, you know, councilman Danny Venezuela, and councilwoman Laura Pastor, who was Ed's daughter and is considering, as well. And Kyrsten Sinema, we're hearing rumors that she could switch from her district and go to this one. But, if she doesn't, it's going to be an extremely crowded primary.

Ted Simons: That does not make much sense. Catherine Miranda, another name. Chad Campbell. Phil Gordon. I mean, you, may be?

Jeremy Duda: Yeah.

Mike Sunnucks: Our Buddy, begay.

Ted Simons: Who knows?

Mike Sunnucks: I think Ruben Gallego has a resume, he's an Iraq war Veteran, Marine, and obviously, two-thirds Hispanic district, so you will see probably Hispanic candidate come out of there, and I think he's an early favorite for a lot of folks, but, it could be so crowded. Obviously, if Laura Pastor gets in there, she could run the same signs as her father, and I think that they have, they would have his last name on there, and that would be an advantage. Name I.D., a big crowded democratic primary, you know, could be it, so she's the one people are waiting on to see what happens. Cinema's office has not shot this down, the idea is -- the Republicans are floating this.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Mike Sunnucks: It's a tough district, and or she goes and runs in an easier democratic district. I don't know if she can win the primary, though.

Ted Simons: That one doesn't make much sense, but as far as, as far as the crowd that has been mentioned so far, Gallardo, Gallego, Miranda, Campbell, Gordon -- again, everyone and their sister, this could be pretty nasty stuff.

Bob Christie: It could be pretty nasty, I think that, you know, it depends on who gets the money. And, and there is going to be a lot of money spent in this race, the reason all these people are in this race is because this is a seat for life, if you get it, and unless we have some weird redistricting happen and it turns into something else. Ed pastor has been there years, never has a serious challenge, he has all the money he needs to fend off -- I had to track down last year the, the Republican challenger. I literally could not find him. And the Republican party didn't have contact information for him.

Ted Simons: Does the Republican party throw anyone up in this particular race?

Jeremy Duda: They may, may not, it does not matter. And you know, like you mentioned, two-thirds, of the district, voting rights act protected, and democratic seat for life. And I think that one other interesting thing to watch is the domino effect that you are going to see from all these potential candidates. Gallardo and Gallego will most likely resign from the legislature, Wilcox will have to resign and council members, Valenzuela, will have to resign, so a lot of people, Ted, instead of looking for Ed Pastor's seat might be eyeing Mary Rose's seat for Board of Supervisors.

Ted Simons: It does leave a lot of open seats.

Mike Sunnucks: It has a domino effect and all kinds of people looking to run again after that. Phil Gordon could be a wildcard because he has good name I.D., and if you have the Hispanic votes, and they are dividing up the votes, does a non-hispanic, Anglo, or African-American step in there and be a formidable person in this race?

Ted Simons: It does not sound like Ed Pastor is ready to endorse and may not at all.

Bob Christie: I think that it would be a good call for him not to. He knows this is a wide open field, and he's not going to -- he might help someone a bit but he's going to hurt a lot of feelings, and he has a great reputation in the district, why risk that, and when you are retiring.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, we did not get a chance to talk about the repeal of the election laws that will not be on the ballot because it was repealed and the Governor signed that without comment. The first two -- not the first two but two of the bigger things he's done is fix -- fixing the mistakes.

Mike Sunnucks: The politics are increasing that because they are taking this off to avoid the voters repealing it on their own and not being able to mess around with it again. So anyone with a lot of cynicism towards politics can look at these, too, and we have a CPS system that's, that's been broke, really egregious stuff and they have not addressed that.

Ted Simons: We'll stop it there, great discussion and good to have you here.

Jeremy Duda:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Mike Sunnucks:Journalist, Phoenix Business Journal; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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