Journalists’ Roundtable

More from this show

Join us as reporters bring us up to date on the latest news in the Journalists’ Roundtable.

Ted Simons: Good evening, welcome to "Arizona Horizon's" "Journalists' Roundtable." I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight, Alia Rau of "The Arizona Republic," Mike Sunnucks of the "Phoenix Business Journal," and Bob Christie of the Associated Press. Governor Brewer announced her endorsement in the Republican gubernatorial primary and Alia, not really a surprise, was it?

Alia Rau: Not entirely. But it took so long that I think a lot of people thought maybe she would just stay out of it altogether.

Ted Simons: We were talking about that last Friday. Scott Smith gets a relatively hearty endorsement at the ballpark in Mesa.

Alia Rau: She says she will do whatever it takes to win, give him money, through her PAC potentially.

Mike Sunnucks: This would have helped more before early ballots went out and while Scott was trying to raise money. It was expected if she was going endorse anybody, it would be Smith. His stance on common core, Medicaid, it could have come out a while ago. Doucey and Jones have a big financial advantage if she had done this early.

Ted Simons: It sounds like it was either Smith or Doucey. Why Smith, why not Doucey?

Bob Christie: I think that's a good question. She was probably concerned on some of the positions on taxes, how to move the state forward. She was much more comfortable with Smith's ability to do that. Whether this makes a huge difference at this stage of the race, Smith certainly hopes so, he needed it bad. He brought in $, in the first hours after the rumor was leaked. The announcement came out she was going to have an event with him. So she hasn't told us exactly why she didn't pick Doucey but I think most everybody knew it was down to Smith only.

Ted Simons: And why -- do we know why she waited as long as she did? She made endorsements for other candidates in other races. This one took a while.

Alia Rau: Reporters asked her and she didn't really answer. I know with bidwell getting into it and trying to push the business community behind Doucey, I think maybe that kind of ruffled her feathers a little bit. She kept talking about everyone telling the truth in her endorsement. I don't know if there was some frustration with how everybody's portrayed her in border issues. Jones and Thomas have gone after her a little bit not doing enough with the border issues.

Ted Simons: They didn't have to even go after her, it's tacit disapproval. Here's what I'm going do. It suggests, you didn't do it.

Mike Sunnucks: I think bob's right, Smith really needed this. He didn't have as much money, he had bidwell and glen hammer and the chairman, the Greater Phoenix Leadership all pushing for business folks to switch from Smith to Doucey. This came at the right time. They had the same consultant, the group is Jan's consultant. His son works at High Ground. There are a lot of folks really pressing her to kindly come out and do this or Smith was going to fade away.

Bob Christie: And it was not a a fait accompli.

Bob Christie: If she doesn't endorse this week, it's not going happen. Tuesday she met with a group of lawmakers who supported her through Medicaid expansion, and they don't like to be called moderates but the more business friendly group. The Doug Colemans, Bob Rothmans, Steve Pierces who met with her at length on Tuesday. Even Tuesday evening I heard after that evening she had not committed. It was Wednesday morning, she made up her mind, pulled the trigger and bam, the event was on.

Mike Sunnucks: Again, the timing. She endorsed Brnovich over Horne right before the ballots went out. Some people already got their ballots. A lot of people hadn't seen Scott Smith on TV that much compared to Jones and Doucey. Maybe they can run some ads, we'll have to see.

Ted Simons: Maybe that apparently did have quite an impact. It sounds like the last of many meetings, Boom, here comes the endorsement.

Alia Rau: People had been telling her all along she need to do get involved. It sounds like that last meeting is kind of what pushed her over the edge. Alia Rau: She promised the group she would do everything she could to help them. Smith probably aligns a little more with them, as well.

Ted Simons: We've asked how does this help Smith How does this help or hurt the other candidates? Keep in mind,that is the Republican primary. Republican primary voters are not necessarily the most moderate folks.

Mike Sunnucks: That's been the challenge for Scott all along, can he get enough independents, moderates to beat someone like Doucey or even far to the right Jones. There are only a couple of endorsements that probably matter in this case. Brewer and maybe Sheriff Joe is a second one especially for conservatives and older voters. This helps Smith but he's still go to the convince others to turn out. There are a lot of voters that aren't engaged politically and they are still deciding.
Bob Christie: An endorsement from a sitting governor gets a lot of play on TV. It's real important for Smith, he doesn't have a big bank account. There was a whole line of free media, a lot of TV ads paid for by TV news crews yesterday, essentially. The question is, can Smith get enough money now and make enough ad buys to where he gets his message out like he wants to? He's worked it hard but you've gotta have TV and radio and repeat exposure to sell yourself.

Ted Simons: This poll includes GOP voters and independents. We can parse out the GOP voters in a second here. but the independents, I don't think you can expect to see that many people, the independent voters going to polls. But still, all of a sudden Smith is like looking pretty doggone good.

Alia Rau: If you buy the polls, that's what it shows. There's a lot of debate about how real these polls are, who's paying for them, who's behind them. The last few polls we've seen Smith has been up there ahead of Jones.

Ted Simons: Very close, again, when you put those independent voters, take them out, Republicans only and Doucey still has a relatively sizeable lead.

Mike Sunnucks: Doucey has led basically every poll. Mid s, low s. A lot of people think you need or more probably to win at least considering all the candidates in there. It's interesting, when these pro-Doucey polls came out there was a lot of backlash against this. This poll comes out showing Scott doing better. Wow, this is a Smith surge. It could be happening. There are a lot of undecided voters out there. If the moderates and independents are going one camp, they are going to Smith. It could be happening. Interesting to see the different reactions from the questionable polls from different campaigns.

Bob Christie: Bottom line, this is a horse race. There are three perceived front-runners, Smith, Jones and Doucey. How much the other three candidates pull away is going to affect how those three do. And I don't think anybody's got the answer until election night. We'll see the numbers come in.

Ted Simons: Do you think this poll, the Arizona automobile dealers association came out with a poll, Arizona Strategies conducted it. It was taken prior to the Governor's endorsement and broke at around the same time as her. Do you think that momentum may have pushed her, as well?

Alia Rau: I don't know. Again, everybody's got their biases with the polls. One earlier showed Smith at second. I think that may have been a little bit of a push, that was the first we saw with him coming up. I can't remember who did that one. But I think that may have been a little bit of a push to get her to get involved and it didn't work. Lawmakers getting involved and asking for help did more.

Bob Christie: There's a legacy issue. Listen, the things you've set up are going to be at risk with another candidate. With Smith, you know what you're going to get. He solidly aligned with your goals and with what you've put in place for the State as far as the business community is concerned and wring bringing in and setting up a tax policy that's drawing business here without destroying it. Coming up with some complete overhaul. I think that probably -- and I don't want to speak for the governor -- but it probably played a lot into it. I know that was the pitch.

Mike Sunnucks: The dynamic of the race is setting up with the Doucey camp and Michael bidwell and others telling supporters, you need to vote or Christine Jones is going to come in and win this thing. Then dormant and these polls kind of changed that. Smith is now considered back as a contender where they were trying to kind of write him off for the business sections, kind of centrist conservatives, not far right, not far in the middle.

Ted Simons: It seems, well, something similar we heard from the "The Arizona Republic" camp when they came out with their endorsement, it's almost like he's the guy who can win. We don't want to talk policy too much here, but he's the one to win. That's the biggest factor.

Bob Christie: That's his argument, his argument to everyone, I'm not a leader, I'm ahead. Smith's argument and his camp's argument and Jones' argument is no, he's not. This is an open race. Make your decision based on policy. And I would argue that Jones is not that -- you have to paint yourself as conservative in Arizona. Scott Smith paints himself as conservative.

Ted Simons: Sure.

Bob Christie: I've seen Jones in several forums. She's very thoughtful when she discusses policy. She says, you know, I haven't been convinced that that's the right way to go.

Ted Simons: We also had another endorsement this week, Sarah Palin decided to endorse Doug Doucey for the Governor. He praised his background with cold stone, apparently that's a favorite stop for the Palin family, with stops for ice cream. Any impact with that?

Alia Rau: Most of the people influenced by Palin are probably already supporting Doucey. He maybe he could have pulled some of the Jones endorsement.

Ted Simons: You got Palin for Doucey and Brewer for Smith.

Mike Sunnucks: Well, Brewer certainly has more impact on the ground here and Smith needed it more. The thing for Doucey, he's got Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Palin, a cadre of conservatives backing him. It's kind of a conservative establishment getting behind him. If a conservative voter is not paying that much attention, hey, if all of these are backing Doucey --

Ted Simons: And we're talking about a Republican primary. We have independents involved if they want to get involved. I would think Sarah Palin carries a lot of water.

Bob Christie: Sarah Palin is relatively old news, she has been out of the picture. I don't think Sarah Palin. I think the one endorsement that matters in this race was the Governor's.

Ted Simons: Arpaio's didn't matter as much?

Bob Christie: Arpaio matters some, like Mike said, in the Sun City voters. He's on the air now running ads. But I think the Governor's veritas will affect this race a lot.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Mike Sunnucks: I think it certainly helps Scott, it validates him. It maybe gives his folks kind of in the middle some enthusiasm. He got in the race late, hasn't raised the money Smith and Doucey -- I mean, Doucey and Jones have. It gives him some momentum he didn't have before. It was the sinking ship syndrome, that turned things around. I think Arpaio helps if you channel it with Scott Walker and others behind Doug. Those folks pay attention.

Bob Christie: Talking about how Jan Brewer isn't the conservative in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Well, there you go. You talk to some Republicans and they say she's not even close. Sounds like we're learning a little more who's bank-rolling some of these independent expenditure ads and for Christine Jones. It's her old cohort at GoDaddy.

Alia Rau: They didn't have to disclose for another few weeks and he went ahead and said yes, this is us, we're getting behind Jones with our money.

Ted Simons: Sound like he was especially upset, I think a debate over there Doucey described Jones as lying employee over at godaddy, that didn't go over well at all.

Alia Rau: No, not at all. She was not involved, she made money on it because she did well. She was not in any way.

Ted Simons: She called Doucey a misogynist jerk.

Alia Rau: Got a little lively there.

Mike Sunnucks: I think it's buying a lot of ad time. They can go after Doucey and we'll see if they start to go after Smith. The race has changed, we'll know when the independent expenditures folks, if they go after Scott we'll know it's a change. The money between Jones and Doucey can get very high. They are independent groups spending on their behalf and against other folks. Having Bob Parsons in your corner, he's a big money guy.

Bob Christie: He's a billionaire, he can write checks that you and I would just -- couldn't imagine.

Mike Sunnucks: The blow-back, is he trying to buy himself a governor. He's bought a motorcycle dealership, an advertising agency which happens to be doing ads, and put a whole bunch of money in there, some of the watchdog groups, this guy's really trying to buy the race.

Ted Simons: Whether it's Christine Jones' own money or I.E. with Parsons involved. Yet she seems to be slipping. What's going on?

Bob Christie: It's hard to understand why she hasn't gained traction, if you believe the polls. Which we all know are suspect. It's hard to say. Why hasn't she gained traction. Do you have an idea?

Alia Rau: I think she got a lot of attention with the immigration issue. I wouldn't call her a one-issue candidate by any means but that was a big focus for her. I guess the impression the general public is tiring of that issue a little bit. I wonder -- I have no basis for this, but wondering if people are associating the immigration too much in association with her.

Ted Simons: Especially with Doucey and Jones, he hasn't been doing too much of the ads. Now all of a sudden he comes in saying I'm the positive guy, look at me.

Bob Christie: That's all he can do right now. He doesn't have the bankroll to do negative ads.

Ted Simons: Can't afford to go negative.

Bob Christie: He's got to built build a positive image, focus voters on what he's done in Mesa, I can bring this to the state. Look, the Governor thinks I can. I've supported her endeavors over the past two years, I can do this.

Ted Simons: We could go on forever with the governor's race but other things are happening. Apparently John Huppenthal says he never supported common core standards. Never.

Alia Rau: It's election season, this happens.

Ted Simons: What's going on here, where is this coming from?

Alia Rau: This is clear in the superintendent's race the Democrats have been very strong for common core or a version of it. And Huppenthal's opponent has been very strongly against it. To win the Republican primary you've got to be seen as a conservative. He's being very nuanced with it. He's saying, yes, I did support some of it, but we changed it in Arizona. What we have in Arizona isn't common core and I kind of support that. But it's campaigning.

Ted Simons: What happened to the barbarians at the gate and all that?

Bob Christie: This is a far different statement. He said, I have never supported common core. Six weeks ago when he had the big press conference where he cried and apologized for the blog post, he spent a good three minutes saying how he was the only elected official in the United States who stood up to the opponents of common core. All the rest folded like a wet paper bag. I've been telling people these are good standards, for Arizona.

Ted Simons: Did you find out who's targeting the ads, does he think he's in trouble in this race?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, I think so. All the Republicans are pretty much the same on immigration. No amnesty, secure the border, blah, blah, blah. I think everybody tunes that out. Common core, that's different. Common core is really kind of resonating a little bit with that Republican base. You see folks on Fox News, Glenn Beck is talking about it. They don't like it at all. Because of the falcon blog posts and he's out of touch with the right wing primary voter.

Ted Simons: Does it put him back in touch?

Bob Christie: He's trying get through the election. What I suspect probably happened he got some internal polling numbers or his consultant sat him down and said, listen, you've hurt yourself badly with the blog post. You can't overcome two negatives, the anti-common core folks and the blog post. You've got get some of the common core people back.

Mike Sunnucks: He saw the business folks really come down on Huppenthal after those blog posts, withdrawing support. The chamber was going to give him an award and decided not to. He lost the moderate support and now he's got to try to recapture some of the conservatives.

Ted Simons: Welcome to the barbarian club, I guess.Senator Chester Crandall dies in an accident. Talk about Senator Crandall and his legacy there at the capitol.

Alia Rau: He's somebody everybody liked. He had his issues, whether you agreed or dread everybody liked him. He used to tell jokes in the middle of session, he was kind of a fun guy. He would tell you what he thought. He wouldn't parse words, he didn't play politics. He always had a smile and always wanted to have a conversation.

Ted Simons: Education and states rights towards the end.

Bob Christie: Very strong states rights supporter. He had a failed bill this year which would have required federal agents to register with the local sheriff because they could do anything in a county and turn over any seizure to them. It was finally ruled unconstitutional in the rules commit which is how they kill things. But Chester was straight up and he was willing to talk to reporters and be honest with them. Just a truly great guy. I'm going to miss being able to talk to him.

Ted Simons: Died at the age of 68.

Ted Simons: Good to have you all here, thanks for joining us., Monday on "Arizona Horizon" find out how independent voters could affect Republican primary results. And an encouraging growth regarding solar power use. Tuesday an ASU researcher develops a new treatment for ebola virus. Wednesday a company is selected as a case study on E-commerce. Thursday, private rights affecting American consumers. Friday, another edition of the "Journalists' Roundtable." This is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

Alia Rau:Journalist, Arizona Republic; Mike Sunnucks:Journalist, Phoenix Business Journal; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
aired May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

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 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: