Vote 2014: Post-Election Coverage

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We’ll analyze the primary election results and talk about what they mean to the upcoming general election with Bob Robb, a political columnist for the Arizona Republic, and pollster Mike O’Neil.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Yesterday's primary election is in the books with Doug Ducey winning the Republican race for governor, Ruben Gallego defeating Mary Rose Wilcox in the democratic race for Congressional District, and two incumbent Republican state officer holders voted out. Here's just a little of what we heard last night at various election headquarters.

Video (Doug Ducey): We're halfway home and now the real race begins. I've run hard in the primary against able and worthy opponents. I'll keep running hard as your nominee. And with the honor of your support, we will win the election for governor! [Applause]

Video (Fred DuVal): I'm not about Republican, Democrat. The problem we have is a stagnant economy that is not creating the jobs of the future. Some of the ideas from the Democrats are good; some of the ideas from Republicans are good. It's about getting the right ideas that'll work in the economy and getting the Republicans and Democrats together so that we can create the kind of opportunities for our children and for ourselves and for our families that we aspire to.

Video (Mark Brnovich): I grew up here in Arizona and I've said this since day one of the campaign Arizonans want a principal conservative in the Attorney General's Office, someone with Arizona values, someone who's going to protect those who can't stand up and protect themselves, whether it's the elderly or young kids. I knew our message would resonate and it ultimately did resonate. I appreciate that.

Video (Ruben Gallego): We always knew we were going to be really competitive and we knew everything was working out at the doors. We had a positive message, we hit the doors in an amazing amount of time.

Video (David Garcia): We have students within the state that don't have some of the same opportunities. Ours don't have the same opportunity as students in other states. We do need to get serious, looking at our school finance system, which needs to be changed and updated. But also considering new ways to invest in our Public Schools.

Video (John Huppenthal): But the voters have spoken. The opposition to the common core was 100% on the campaign trail and it was vociferous. That issue swamped everything.

Ted Simons: Here now to help explain what really happened last night and what it means for the November general election, Arizona columnist Bob Robb and pollster Mike O'Neil. Bob, we'll start with you, general impressions from last night. What do you take away from all this?

Bob Robb: I think there were two big stories, how convincing and large Ducey's victory was, which puts him in good stead to take advantage of the Republican registration edge over Democrats leading into the general election. The second big story was the acts of political hygiene that were engaged in, getting rid of two incumbents that had pretty troubled baggage.

Mike O'Neil: In the net result of that was with the exception of Doug Ducey who moves from relative obscurity to the top of the ticket, all new people on the ticket on the republican side.

Ted Simons: Interesting, let's talk about that governor's race.Doug Ducey won by a considerable amount, why?

Mike O'Neil: 12%, he was out in front from the very beginning I think. I do think the Governor's endorsement of Scott Smith did something for him, it put him back in the game for a while, but too little, too late. Took him from third to second. That doesn't get you a whole lot in the long run, I'm sure he's cursing himself for not having started earlier.

Ted Simons: As far as Ducey, a wide array of folks backing him. From the beginning, seemed like he was the anointed one.

Bob Robb: I don't know that he was anointed. But he did his preparatory work well. He began the campaign largely unknown among voters but with the broadest coalition, both financial and grass roots. So he began the campaign not as the front-runner but holding the best hand of cards. The question was could he skillfully play them during the course of the election, and I think he played them very skillfully.

Mike O'Neil: Well, while the margin was descent he only got a little more than a third of the votes but I don't think he's going to have difficulty, you know, getting everyone behind him within the Republican Party.
Ted Simons: How much difficulty against Fred DuVal?

Mike O'Neil: I think it could be a race. The best thing Fred got out of this was a sort of repertoire of things Republicans said about Doug Ducey, I'm sure we'll see those again.

Ted Simons: What do you think about that, that Fred didn't have a warmup game and Ducey's coming in here battle tested. Make a difference?

Bob Robb: I don't think so. DuVal has got an extraordinary amount of political presence and I don't think he needed to be battle tested. I think he needed not to waste resources in a primary, more than that. He has a tremendously steep ethical climb. Republican registration advantage is over 175,000 and turnout advantage in an off presidential race is monumental. In 68% of Republicans turned out, only 56% of Democrats turned out and only 41% of independents. So DuVal to make a contest of it has to get either a much larger Democratic turnout, a much larger independent turnout. He has to capture an unusual share of the independent vote. And he needs a larger than usual crossover Republican vote. Those are tall orders.

Mike O'Neil: All of which is to say he has to run a demonstrably better campaign. The default goes to the Republican. If he only runs a marginally better he loses. He has to do a lot better.

Ted Simons: All right, same thing for Rotellini in the attorney general's race, Garcia in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race?

Mike O'Neil: I think Garcia is quite arguably one of the most qualified candidates -- and Rob said that earlier when we were talking, I agree with that. Felecia Rotellini has the emotional -- what she has going for her is the fact that she almost won last name in what many Democrat he is regard as a stolen election. She's already done it. And she is running against a guy whose only claim to fame is he's not Tom Horne.

Ted Simons: What about those down-ticket races where Democrats see an opening? Is there an opening?

Bob Robb: There is if they have the resources to capitalize on it. Rotellini has a decent amount of money raised; she will be able to make a case for herself. And the emotional enthusiasm for the Democrats is with her in terms of the Democratic ticket. Garcia is the most qualified person running to my money, but the guy that probably has the best chance of succeeding without resources is Terry Goddard because he has such large state name I.D. My guess is it's diffusely positive, given his tenure in office and the many times he's run.

Mike O'Neil: Put this all together, this is not a purple state yet. But the interesting thing is due to individual factors, I think every one of the remaining four statewide races is potentially contestable.

Ted Simons: Terry Goddard will be running against Michelle Reagan. That last name makes a difference, doesn't it? You're a pollster you know what these things-

Mike O'Neil: It doesn't hurt in Republican circles. Terry Goddard- This is his fourth or fifth run at statewide office. He was elected attorney general; he got 49% of the vote running for governor. He starts with a lot of name recognition and a lot of good will.

Bob Robb: I think it sells Reagan short, because she was the only woman in a three-way race or because of her name. She's performed extremely well politically. I think she's got some political chops that shouldn't be underestimated.

Ted Simons: Although again, as a state lawmaker Representative of certain area, now you've got to get the entire state behind you, where Goddard has already worked there. Are you surprised in CD- Andy Tobin has had such a hard time winning this thing?

Bob Robb: I am not. It is an area of the state where authenticity and being from there matters. And so a candidate, who says, I will consider moving into the district if I win, is going to have problems. Also, Tobin's tenure as Speaker was viewed with a mixed sentiment by populist conservatives. And as much as urban media like the types find Kiehne alternately amusing and appalling, he's as authentic as his Cowboy boots and his horse. And he had money; he was able to spend his own money.

Ted Simons: He did. He also is now facing Ann Kirkpatrick, the incumbent in that race.

Mike O'Neil: I think this tells us a lot about the Republican primary in that district, whether or not that extends to the general electorate in that vote. I mean, Tobin, no question, is a much stronger general election candidate if he's able to pull this out.

Bob Robb: I don't think however Kiehne is the candidate; you'll find the national money completely drying up. When Paul Gosar won the nomination a few years ago, no one regarded him as a very strong candidate. But in a tidal wave action for Republicans he was able to win the district.

Ted Simons: Mary Rose Wilcox, is her political career over? Were you surprised the race was as one-sided as it was?

Mike O'Neil: Maybe the margin, not the outcome. People talked for the last six months about the Wilcox Machine. That machine hasn't been taken out for a drive in 25 years. This was generational. New politics, old politics.

Ted Simons: We've discussed this, I think Stan Barnes said get used to that name Ruben Gallego, because that is going to be a player in Arizona politics, certainly a Democratic area, for a long time.

Mike O'Neil: He has that seat as long as he wants.

Ted Simons: Yeah and can do a variety of things from that.

Bob Robb: And he's got an interest and influence extending beyond just his Congressional District. So it'll be interesting to see if he and Raul Grijalva end up bashing heads for influence within the Latino community and Democratic circles.

Ted Simons: Congressional district 9, Wendy Rogers handily defeats Ander Walter, the former quarterback, any thoughts there, surprises there at all?

Bob Robb: I think people are dismissing her chances too readily. She's a very hard worker and a transparently good person. If this is a Republican-leaning year, then that might make it more of a shot. And if President Obama provides work permits to four to five million illegal immigrants, all bets may be off in congressional races favoring Democrats in Arizona.

Ted Simons: What do you think of this race?

Mike O'Neil: Agree on the last point, but I think she starts out as the underdog.

Ted Simons: Against Kristin Sinema.

Ted Simons: All right. Before we go, the independent vote was it the factor everyone thought it would be?

Mike O'Neil: I don't think it changed outcomes. But it looks like we went from 7-14%. I think that might give people pause in the future to discount the independent voters as a potential factor, but I'm hard pressed to find a race here where it impacted the outcome or changed it.

Ted Simons: What did you make of the independent vote?

Bob Robb: People are looking at the independent vote this year compared to 2012 when it was 9% of the Republican primary vote. But in 2010, it was 13%. So we won't know exactly what percent it was until the canvass is done. But my guess is the increase will be marginal at best. Like Mike, I did not see a race where I said I thought it made the difference.

Ted Simons: And last question before we go. The impact of endorsements, specifically Governor Brewer's endorsement. It looks like, if you're an incumbent it worked pretty well for you, but if you're a challenger not so much.

Bob Robb: Which I think means that it was irrelevant; the notion that Jan Brewer is the Ronald Reagan of Republican politics whose endorsement is a magical touch just didn't have any roots. We saw it here. I think she was largely irrelevant, even though she spent a lot of money.

Ted Simons: Largely irrelevant?

Mike O'Neil: She got Scott Smith back in the game. She got a lot of people to take a second look at him. He came in second instead of third because of her endorsement.

Ted Simons: Is she a factor now in the general if she tours the state, if she tours the state for Republican candidates?

Mike O'Neil: I think she's starting to fade into obscurity.

Ted Simons: Agree with that?

Bob Robb: I do.

Mike O'Neil: Gentlemen, great stuff. Good to have you both here.

Bob Robb:Political Columnist, Arizona Republic; Mike O'Neil:Pollster;

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