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, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon's" "Journalists' Roundtable," I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: Joining us tonight are Mary Jo Pitzl of "The Arizona Republic," Mike Sunnucks of the "Phoenix Business Journal," and Alia Rau of "The Arizona Republic." Early polling seems to suggest Doug Ducey and Fred DuVal are really neck and neck in the race.

Mary Jo Pitzl: According to two independent polls that came out -- and we've had a dearth of polls -- right before the primary a poll came out that showed them tied. Over the weekend in a poll conducted post primary election found a 40-40 tie between Ducey and DuVal.

Ted Simons: That leans a little left, whereas Rasmussen liens a little bit right, it sounds like all bases are covered.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think that's one of the reasons people paid attention to those. The Ducey camp and the state Republican Party dispute that Rasmussen leans right and they have some problems with the methodology. That is generally how the poll is seen, leaning a little or favoring Republicans.

Ted Simons: What do you make of this?

Mike Sunnucks: Rasmussen does have a Republican reputation in the past. The Ducey camp, like Mary Jo said, too many young voters or too many independents. Everybody cast out on those pro-Ducey polls turned out to be correct. Nobody came out with any other polls. If you want to dispute a poll, show us some other numbers. Even Public Policy, which is Democratic leaning, has had legitimate polling. They both show the same thing, they are starting off kind of tied. There are a lot of inherent advantages to being Republican and being Ducey in this race versus DuVal. Right now tied and a lot of undecided voters.

Aila Rau: It's early, we've got weeks. Someone needs to win. This is the first of many, the second of many polls. I think everybody will go back and forth in terms of who's up and down.

Ted Simons: As far as name recognition, this latest poll Ducey had pretty strong recognition, DuVal not quite as much.

Aila Rau: Definitely. DuVal didn't have any primary opponents. He tried to stick his head in every now and then and did some of the forums, but no. When you've got a primary as nasty as that one was, everybody was talking about Ducey in that race.

Mike Sunnucks: That's got to be an advantage for the head start. It adds up. Everybody knows him from Cold Stone and state treasurer. He got a lot of free publicity. Fred DuVal was a consultant, Clinton White House aide, energy, T-bone Pickens. Everyone knows Coldstone. The poll is good news for a Democrat. He's not down 15 points, not down 10 points, he's in the race.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I wonder if that's partially some fatigue from the primary. Ducey won big with 37% of the vote. But you know, 63% of the vote went elsewhere. And perhaps some of those voters look at DuVal as an alternative. Plus, Democrats are weighing in and they are going to the polls for their guy, their party. They are off to the races. DuVal has name I.D. to get well established.

Mike Sunnucks: Last time a Democrat won, Janet Napolitano, there was fatigue with Republicans. There was fatigue with Republicans being in power and that'll be kind of key to DuVal having a chance.

Ted Simons: Ducey stronger on fiscal issues, DuVal stronger on social issues? That is to be expected.

Aila Rau: We'll see what happens again when they start to debate. I think they have a forum Wednesday next week, kind of the first one. That'll bring maybe some new issues. I think it's an economic policy one, we'll see what that does for DuVal or Ducey.

Ted Simons: The first one that maybe leans left, that included Barry Hess, the Libertarian. That had a lot of eyebrows raising, 12%. First of all, are we buying that? Secondly, that's got to cut into I would think Ducey's numbers.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I don't know if I buy 12%. The last time a Libertarian posted numbers like that might have been with John Butrick ran for governor. It could be the "none of the above" kind of vote.

Ted Simons: And the Rasmussen poll did not mention Hess.

Mike Sunnucks: They are not going to vote for Democrats, kind of tied good with the Libertarians, if it's a really tight race in the end maybe Hess is a deciding factor. But it would take a lot.

Ted Simons: Dead heat poll, here comes Ken Bennett endorsing, and then here comes Jones and then Smith. Everyone on board as far as Republicans?

Aila Rau: Technically. Those Authority ones are a little chilly, especially from Smith and Jones. Sort of like divorced parents getting together for the sake of the kids. We'll do it, we support the conservatives and the Republicans, but it was not a friendly endorsement.

Ted Simons: Was there any threat that they weren't going to endorse?

Aila Rau: I think there was legitimate concern. Oh, well, I'll go with you, I don't know about that. But there was some legitimate concern they would just have it all together.

Ted Simons: And as far as endorsements themselves, if you're Doug Ducey and running for governor, the folks that went for Scott Smith, is his endorsement going to help you that much?

Mike Sunnucks: It's a story, if you're a Democrat, not at all. You could see independents and moderate Republicans that might vote for DuVal because of social issues, or frustration because of the legislature and some of the shenanigans they are up to. It does help if Smith endorses, but it's more of a media story, I don't think too many individuals will be swayed by this.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The intent is to show unity among the Republicans. You're not going to have outliers chinking rocks at their nominees. They want to show unity, that certainly is very helpful.

Ted Simons: They will show, it does show unity, the Governor was there on election night showing unity. Yet this is a guy that sounds like he wants to dismantle our legacy operation there. I couldn't figure that out. Voters, let's say you're strongly for Christine Jones, strongly for Scott Smith. Now they are saying, go Ducey. Are they go Ducey?

Aila Rau: I think the Governor is. I mean, you know, she didn't intend, I don't think, to divide the party. She wants to support her legacy, kind of encourage that, but there was never any thought that she would not endorse whoever the winner was. She's also all about the party and wants to kind of unite the party. Literally, like you said on election night, she was right there next to him, patting him on the back, supporting him and cheering for him. We'll see that throughout the rest of the campaign.

Mike Sunnucks: There's a big block of voters in the middle, sometimes younger, don't vote in the primary, that are frustrated with the image of the state and things the legislature passes, SB1070 and 1062 and the gun bills. They might usually vote Republican, but they want a stop-gap against those types of bills. Can Ducey hold on to those with that registration? Or can Fred turn out new voters and grab some of the folks in the middle that sort of support of Smith?

Mary Jo Pitzl: DuVal came out with Republicans for Fred. He's using Fred a lot in his campaign literature announcements to show his broad support, his support goes beyond one party. A lot of these are Republicans who at a quick glance, they backed Napolitano when she was governor. You didn't see Christine Jones or Scott Smith on that list, which would have really caught people's eyes. But the idea is to show that he has broad support. I'm waiting for a Democrats for Ducey list.

Aila Rau: I think that's the question. Everybody's watching to see how does Ducey pull back to the center. He ran a very conservative primary race, now he's going to come back and try to get some of those moderates and dependents.

Ted Simons: That's a good point, Medicaid, questions and concerns? Does he start to yell about this again or does he pipe down about it?

Aila Rau: That's a good question. You can go the other direction, but I think we'll see more conversations on economic development. How do we improve businesses and improve jobs. He's stayed away from some of the more social issues.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Medicaid has been a different one, it had to be dragged out of him last fall by a group of reporters that sort of ambushed him or assaulted him to get his position on that. It doesn't do any good to bring that up now. Certainly we'll probably see Fred DuVal bringing up that issue. And there's a rule for the media saying, what's he going to do with this very important policy that was really hard fought and is still in the courts. Just this week the Supreme Court set a date, they will hear Governor Brewer's challenge to this. She wants the Court to end this whole dispute that lawmakers even have standing to bring a challenge to Medicaid. That hearing is going to be two days after the general election. It'll be very interesting to see who shows up in the court, will the government elect.

Ted Simons: And what decisions the governor might have to make. Andy Tobin wins, Kiehne succeeds. What did he have here, 407 votes?

Mike Sunnucks: A lot closer than folks would have thought at the beginning of this. It certainly buoys the confidence of Ann Kirkpatrick in the general. Is this going to be a target race, or are they going to move to some other Arizona races where they do have some chances, too? It's a mostly world district, Tobin had good name I.D., and lot of backing from the establishment. It was a lot closer than people thought.

Ted Simons: And Kiehne said there was a pledge to support Tobin. Kiehne was stronger than most folks thought.

Aila Rau: Totally some immunity in that race, they can get together, they have some similar issues. It's going to be a tough fight against Kirkpatrick and they will come together for that.

Ted Simons: Talk about that district. It leans a touch Democrat but voted for Romney in the last election. It really is a toss-up area.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The lines were different. Ann Kirkpatrick was elected from that sprawling district in 2008, lost the seat in 2010, and came back in 12. It sort of bounces around. Before that the district had elected Rick Renze and he enjoyed a couple of terms before he got into trouble and had to leave. It is largely rural but it does lean Democrat, but it tends to be that brand of Democrats that are conservative and don't have trouble casting Republican ballots. It also includes the Navajo Reservation, which has presidential election coming up on November 4th. Tobin has worked the reservation and certainly Kirkpatrick has been all over it, as well. I think she sees that as sort of an ace in the hole and many Democrats do.

Mike Sunnucks: That was the deciding factor last time when she won was the Navajo turnout. You saw it was kind of early in the cycle, Republicans talking about Obamacare a lot and taking her votes on that. That issue has died down a little bit. Immigration, certainly national security, That district certainly leans Democrat but is kind of conservative. It is really hard core, an immigration district like you might see in Barbara's district.

Ted Simons: To the outside money, especially.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And even though the primary was underwhelming and Tobin's performance was underwhelming, I think the reset button is pushed for the general. There will be support coming in from other donors. They want that seat and I don't see indications that they have given up on that at this point.

Ted Simons: Have you seen the Kirsten Sinema add with the parents of the soldier?

Mike Sunnucks: Yes.

Ted Simons: What are your thoughts?

Mike Sunnucks: I understand she's politicizing a suicide of a guy in the Army who went to the V.A. and didn't get service. His parents are in the ad with her, anybody that knows journalism, any time you can personalize the story it's so much better. She talked to his parents, she has siblings in the military, and makes it so serious about how it matters to her, the costs or the negatives of politicizing something are outweighed by the fact that it's such a compelling ad.

Ted Simons: Have you seen the adds, Alia? Wendy Rogers said it was sickening, revolting and in poor taste. What do you make of all this?

Aila Rau: It's a compelling ad. It tells a story, I wonder if it's a little bit of a story Rogers maybe wanted to tell herself, maybe not in that way. Your publicizing a family in a heartbreaking situation and how do you do that. But Wendy Rogers is a military vet herself, and this is a key issue for her. It'll be interesting how these two kind of clash on that issue. Sinema dealt with that in the legislature, it was a big issue for her. It was kind of interesting how that'll work out in the race.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The parents are cooperating, thanking their Congresswoman, and apparently she wouldn't do this if she didn't have the consent of the family to talk about the soldier.

Ted Simons: She says, you know, these could have been my brothers, older brother and younger brother that are serving. You're talking again about a family that suffers this kind of a loss. No questions?

Mike Sunnucks: I think there's a legitimate criticism of it. You're politicizing this issue. This is an ad that casts Krysten in a positive light. They have empathy for everyday people, somebody that goes through these things. It shows a really human face but not in political form.

Mary Jo Pitzl: It was a chance to remind everybody that Sinema fund-raised over the V.A. scandal when it first broke. She pulled it back and apologized, but they are going to make sure we remember that bell was rung.

Aila Rau: There were a lot of questions surrounding that. Maybe just a little more response to that showing a little more of a sensitive side. Reporters have a lot of questions about the fund-raising.

Mike Sunnucks: She supports veterans and anybody who thinks this is a partisan issue, she's on the side of veterans. Usually something Republicans try to grab onto.

Ted Simons: Interesting. We've got some school chiefs, ex-school chiefs coming out and taking a couple of veiled shots at the Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Surprised?

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, this was former school superintendent Jaime Molera and Lisa Graham Keagan. They backed David Garcia and are blasting Diane Douglas who is the Republican nominee. I say it's not surprising because Keagan during Huppenthal's meltdown over the anonymous blog posts, said oh, my goodness, if he loses this seat goes to a Democrat. She's helping that happen. I wasn't too surprised.

Ted Simons: She said Arizona does not need extreme, nonsensical views.

Mike Sunnucks: He's a business type Republican, it comes down to common core, a lot of Diane ran against common core, that's a big issue on the right. It's also a big issue for businesses and moderates to want to see it go through. Democrats have a chance in this race. We'll see what kind of campaign she runs. They could be in trouble. She probably has some advantages because she's a Republican.

Ted Simons: Lisa Graham Keagan says she wants somebody with integrity who uses honest data coming to conclusions. They are all but dismissing the Republican candidate here.

Aila Rau: I think a lot of people don't know much about her. Other than common core, I don't think people know what she stands for, what she's going to do. We need to see what she does for the next month or so.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And Graham-Keagan is from Peoria, and Diane Douglas was on the Peoria School Board. During that time I believe the school's rating, it's letter grade went down a tick. Diane Douglas was on the board at the time that happened and Lisa Graham is happy to point that out to people.

Ted Simons: We should support by saying it was no surprise that they support greater interference and educational insiders.

Mike Sunnucks: Who makes the decisions? Is it coming from Washington or the White House? Or is it the parents and, you know, local schools. That'll be it. I think the challenge for Garcia and the Democrats is to raise the profile of this race. If this is a down-ticket race, Douglas will probably win. She's Republican, she may get some advantages because she's a woman. If she makes a mistake, if we find out her reviews are out there and nonsensical, I think he has a chance.

Ted Simons: But the common core issue, John Huppenthal said that was 100% the reason, and we all know that's not the reason he lost the primary. However, how much -- we know Diane Douglas' position on common core. She's made it very clear. But we don't know much about anything else. School funding, infrastructure, online getting to rural schools --

Mary Jo Pitzl: Graduation rates, yeah, a lot of other issues. But that is what a campaign is for, to try to bring out candidates' positions on those issues. I don't know. There's a few debates scheduled and there is media coverage of it so hopefully we'll get a more robust picture of her and of David Garcia.

Mike Sunnucks: Yes, yes, exactly. We're supposed to have one right here, too. Before we go, Tesla says adios to Arizona and welcomes Nevada, thanks for the billion in help you're going give us, as well. They are locating a big battery plant, 6500 jobs, wave of the future stuff. Big competition between Arizona, Nevada, Cal, Texas, New Mexico. Reno was kind of the favorite all along, Nevada gave them a lot of up-front stuff. Utility costs, sales taxes, all kinds of taxes. The fact that Arizona killed that bill in the legislature that would have let them sell cars here directly, certainly that hurt.

Ted Simons: They killed that bill but got the bill to getting electricity free for manufacturing in the state, wasn't that designed expressly for Tesla?

Aila Rau: There was some talk about whether it would have helped Apple, as well, when they were coming in. On the one side we helped them, on the other side, how much can you hate them.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Just to be clear, it's not giving electricity for free, it's just waiving the sales tax on it. Which is another tax break our Arizona Legislature gave in hopes of getting this. We didn't get Tesla but the tax break stays for manufacturing businesses.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Every other lawmakers wants a special session for one thing or another. But one of the proponents of that was Representative Ethan Orr. I guess in hindsight, it's just as well we didn't do that, who knows what they would have been tempted to give away for no gain.

Mike Sunnucks: Well, the sweepstakes for the big corporate projects are a little out of control. Texas has big incentives. Nevada's package was way beyond what anybody else was giving. Asian countries are willing to build plants and give this tomorrow corporations. The CEO of Tesla will start to sell batteries to the military, it'll be a great thing for Nevada. It's also a risk. They give incentives but they create jobs, before the business model works. The super-collider never really came to fruition.

Ted Simons: They wanted free electricity, too. Are we going to see more of these incentive-laden come hither kind of bills? Or -- because I know there are a lot of folks in the legislature saying it's not worth it, not fair to everyone who's here or the little mom and pops who don't get anywhere near these kinds of benefits.

Aila Rau: I don't know if we have much choice. We have a ton of incentives already. They may have to look at which ones they need to eliminate just to pay the bills. We've seen this for decades in various forms. I'm not sure we are financially able to do some of the extensive.

Mary Jo Pitzl: A lot of that I think will depend on who's going to be the next governor, and how he is pre disposed to picking winners and losers and the level playing field. Senate leadership is not on board with the idea. The way House leadership seems to be shaping up, they are not going to go with this.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Mary Jo Pitzl:Journalist, Arizona Republic; Mike Sunnucks:Journalist, Phoenix Business Journal; Alia Rau:Journalist, Arizona Republic;

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

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

The four men of Il Divo
airs June 2

Il Divo XX: Live from Taipei

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

A photo journalist walking a destroyed city

Frontline: 20 Days in Mariupol

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: