Journalists’ Roundtable

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Ted Simons: Coming up next on Arizona Horizon. The Journalists' Roundtable. A look at the 2014 election results, and we'll try to figure out what to expect from the winners and we'll discuss what the leadership is in the state of the legislature at the capitol. Next on Arizona Horizon.

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's Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight, Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times, and Jeremy Duda, also from the Arizona Capitol Times, and Bob Christie of the Associated Press. Election season is finally over. Jim? Thoughts?

Ted Simons: Thoughts on -- just, just thoughts.

Jim Small: Thoughts. Well, the good news for most people, if they can turn on the TV, turn on the TV and not be barraged with campaign ads and not have them stuffed in their mailbox and is going into the recycle bin, so, we save some trees and, and, you know, save some, some paint on the TV commercials, but, other than that, this election really, really was, was a, a, you know, a national Republican wave and in Arizona, a Republican wave, and I think at the end of the day it really comes down to, to turnout and voter enthusiasm and, and, and Republicans had, had more, more excitement, and they wanted to go to the polls, and they had something, something to go to the polls to, to -- a statement to make and, and I don't think that the Democrats did, and the results you saw was, was, you know, a drubbing in the Governor's race, and up and down the ticket where the Democrats have, have, you know, are going to be left outside, and looking in once again.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and thoughts, Jeremy, on what you saw?

Jeremy Duda: Not too many surprises. The few that you had seen, there were two statewide races that Democrats, by Election Day were looking at it. And the Secretary of State's race, and superintendent of public instruction, and Secretary of State, lost by five points and, and it was surprising, 9 one statewide race that I thought that they might win, and Democrats are -- they are really taken hard, the superintendent's race, and they had all of this hope in David Garcia, and they felt like, like they were a more qualified candidate. And you had all the chambers of customer, everything that he could have had going, except for party recommendation, and, you know, the party registration. The rate is too close to call but it looks like Douglas will pull this out.

Bob Christie: It looks like -- it surprised me the top line was, was the Ducey one, which was 12%, which is, which is huge. You know. The thought, the general thought was ok, he's up by six, up by eight or nine, but, 12 points is big, and now, down the ticket on the statewide races, the closest you got was, was Terry goddard who came, or beaten by four points by Michelle Reagan, and right below, and Diane Douglas, which is technically for us, too close to call, he has a 20,000 vote deficit to make up and, and, and we have, we have -- generally, the thinking, we do race calls, and the thinking is, is, is, unless there is some massive way, he can't make up that deficit.

Ted Simons: You mentioned turnout, Republicans, that are candidates, and campaigns, did it -- if the Democrats had run, better candidates, or, or had run better campaigns, would it have made a difference?

Jim Small: It might have. I think that, that there is an argument to be made, to be made that, that the democratic -- the Republican turnout machine, worked better than the democratic one. Without doubt, the turnout was depressing, and we'll see the, the seventh lowest turnout rate, rate, since 1942, and that was when the Secretary of State started keeping these records, only twice, or only once before, has it been below 50%, in 1998 and, and we're probably going to be at that, 47% this time. And, and it was very low, and I think that you could probably make an argument that, that had, had maybe had the Democrats, the Democrats and the democrat leaning voters been more engaged and, and had more enthusiasm to vote, whether that was, you know, because of the efforts of the party or because of the messaging or the general tone. We probably would know have seen, seen the turnout be as low.

Ted Simons: The impact of money on this election.

Jeremy Duda: I don't think that, that can really be understated, and you know, when you look at the outside groups, and how much they spent, there was so much on the Republican side and so little on this side, and a lot of that may be a function of, of, of, you know, being a Republican year and, and being a Republican state, and maybe the Democrats not having the candidates that everyone would want, and some people saying we're not going to spend them. The democratic Governor's association, spent $150,000 in this race, while they focused their money on the big race, and in other states. The Republican Governor's association, $5 million. And you, basically, saw an 8-1 spending disparity in the Governor's race. The Secretary of State's race, 600,000, and the outside money, in favor of Michelle Reagan, nothing for Terry Goddard, and of course in the superintendent's race, you have had 800,000 for Garcia, the democrat, and nothing for Douglas, and still, didn't matter, but that was the closest race. So, money clearly had, and the outside money more than anything, had a tremendous impact.

Ted Simons: But again, considering the Tsunami for the Republicans, who would have made a difference if the money were more evened out in this particular election?

Bob Christie: Maybe not in the statewide races. If you look at the congressional races, and we have not talked about them yet. We have three competitive congressional races where Democrats were defending seats, where they were considered supremely -- vulnerable, and they were the third most spending, and c.d. 2 was fourth. Kirkpatrick ran away with that race. I was surprised it was that -- but what I was really surprised by was Kyrsten, 12.5 victory in, in what many considered a tiny bit democratic leaning. I think the Republican candidate there, Wendy rogers, just had no traction, no backing at all and, and, and the Republicans looked at that and said, we don't think that we can win, and I think that the attack ads against her run by, by the democratic were extremely effective in that race.

Ted Simons: And we should mention that race has not been decided. So we have any of the latest numbers?

Jim Small: I think they were, they were up by 770 votes or so.

Bob Christie: She was ahead by 1300 last night, and then, and then this morning, turned a bit and, and it got down to 363 by the end of last night. And then Cochise county came in early, and that put it up to 772, but they are done with the earlies, except for the provisionals, and they have 1200 provisionals left in Cochise county to, to count, and in Pima county, Pima county, voted 52-48% for Barber and 24,000 outstanding votes there, and I expect, by the time that, that, that we're done with this show, and we check, Pima county will come in and, and it's highly likely that, that, that Barbara will be up, and might hold it.

Ted Simons: Why did we see so much competition and, and different results in these congressional races? Regarding party, as opposed to the statewide -- is it just simply a matter of money?

Jeremy Duda: It might be. This is the one place in the state where the money was even. But, you know, at least in c.d. 1 and 2, the Republican, the national Republicans, abandoned Rogers early on, but in one and two, both sides, threw everything that they had and, and, and it's the one place that we saw the Democrats holding on, but, potentially, possibly holding onto to both of those seats and, and, and statewide, it's hard to say if, if the resources were equal, you would have seen a different outcome, and if there was more money, this is still a Republican year, elsewhere, both sides threw everything that they had at these races and the Republicans still won, won almost all of these races nation-wide.

Bob Christie: And Kirkpatrick was thrown out of office in 2010 during the Tea Party wave, and we did not have that as much this year and, and people liked their congressionalpeople, generally speaking. They throw them out of office from time to time, but kirkpatrick, and Ron Barber and kyrsten have run to the middle knowing they would get a challenge, and kirkpatrick has been in that district, it's a huge district, and she's out in some town in eastern Arizona every weekend, and Kyrsten sinema is doing the same, and I think it paid off.

Ted Simons: Do you agree with that?

Jim Small: It does speak to the power, and also, you know, I don't think that you can discount the, the, the candidates, that they are running against. Martha tested, you know, battle tested, the third race in three years, and, you know, but, like, like he said, Wendy Rogers, I think, was definitely not a top tier candidate for the Republicans and, and I think that, that, that there were not a lot of Republicans that gave them much of a shot and, and in the c.d. 1 race, Andy Tobin was the favored candidate for the establishment of the Republican party, but, there was a lot of criticism of the campaign that he ran and, and, and a widespread belief that, you know, that had there been a better campaign, that race may have been closer.

Ted Simons: Interesting, and let's get now to the fact that Jon Kyl, leading the Ducey transition team, a transition team, how much change will we see in the Ducey -- anyone from the Brewer administration going to make that, that, that leap?

Jeremy Duda: It's possible. I have heard one, maybe two people that the Brewer staffers, top aides, who are speculated as possibly sticking around, and I know people tell me that Michael hunter wants to stick around, and he's one of the Governor's top aides. A big tax expert, a Ducey supporter, but, it is not just rumored speculation. A new Governor, you are going to want to put in your people, the people you know and you trust, and the best people for the job, and that's what these transition teams really do, is you go out and you find the people and who you will put into the administration, the chief of staff, and this, as we saw, earlier in the Brewer administration, this makes a difference. This can, can help, you know, it does not run smoothly, the administration doesn't run smoothly.

Bob Christie:You need to get somebody in place, and you need to get people in place in these top positions who know how state Government runs, and been there before and, and who don't go in there and just try and knock everything over, but, let things run and make the policy decisions and, and make sure that the personnel decisions are run right, and work with the legislature, and that's going to be critical because first thing out of the box, they are going to be working to fix this year's budget, and you better have the right people in place.

Ted Simons: As far as coed tails, those sorts of things, do you see -- do you want to come in and put new curtains up and start fresh? Or how much do they have hold over from the Brewer administration? In the Brewer years?

Jim Small: In terms of what?

Ted Simons: In terms of policy and terms of people?

Jim Small: I think that, people, there might be a couple, a top staff, but for the most part, it's going to be a new crew, and, you know, a new group of people and, and, and you know, in terms of the policies, you know, generally, they are pushing the same things, although the big difference between, between Governor Brewer and Ducey, when it comes to, to, to, to some of the more conservative policies, you are going to see Ducey be more proactive. He's struck that tone in the campaign that he was going to, to, you know, to really set the stage for, for here's kind of the things that I want to do and the things that I want to accomplish. And, and Governor Brewer was proactive and, and had those issues that she fought for, and by and large, those issues tended to be, to be against the grain of the, of the rest of her party in the legislature and, and I don't know that we're going to necessarily see that from Doug.

Jeremy Duda: I think that the expectation, a lot of folks have, you know, like you said, Ducey, would be very proactively conservative Governor, and I think that he has, you know, ideas about wanting to do some big things, and Brewer, while conservative on most things, the things were -- the times that she stuck her neck out and spent her capital were on more centered issues. I don't know that Ducey will be like that and, and it will be interesting to see what he does in this first term, you know, he talks about tax cuts, can't do this for years because of the budget situations, and you need to look at, at what can you do that's not going to cause problems but will be, you know, a, a, you know, a big issue. A lot of people are expecting some, maybe some movement on the school choice and, and, and, you know, people speculating on pensions, tort reform, and union stuff, it's hard to say, but these are things that, that could be done without, without aggravating the situation, possibly.

Ted Simons: Or aggravating the legislature. We might as well get to, to the Senate and house leadership. And, and who is David galon and what impact has he had in his service so far and what do you expect?

Bob Christie: He has been the majority leader for the last two years and, and, and he's, he's -- and Andy, he's Andy Tobin's right hand man, and so David solidified his, his, his people -- there were three people who wanted to be the speaker.

Ted Simons: Talk about it. Why did he win?

Bob Christie: He won because he's a coalition builder, and that's what U. to do. And I think that, if you look at the other two candidates, J.D. and, and Eddie and both Senators, both in the Phoenix area, and I think that, that, that they probably had angered a few people and, and over the years. And, and, and Ann hadn't. David is from Sierra vista, a conservative and, and a fiscal conservative, and, and it will be interesting to see how that, that comes together with what gets pushed out, and what he did do, is he put some people in place in his leadership in the second tier of leadership. Bob robson is said to be speaker pro tem, the Medicaid coalition, and some of the other moderates, feel pretty good, that they will keep the chairmanships, so --

Ted Simons: Was that part of the deal? Do you think?

Jim Small: From what we heard, a couple of months ago, when, when the deal had gotten struck, those were the conditions, and what -- we'll see how that shakes out over the next, you know, two or three or four weeks.

Ted Simons: Do you think that Allen is more in line with the more conservative Andy Biggs than Tobin was?

Jim Small: I think ideologically he is, and I think that, that they have more in common on that, than maybe Biggs and Tobin did. And, and but, you know, it's always tough, and this is something that Andy Biggs has experienced, you know, when you go, you get -- at a certain point you need to put your personal ideologies and beliefs aside on some issues because you have to represent the will of your caucus and body, and so I think that every new leader always grapples with that, and it's that transition of going from someone who is a back bencher, who can take those stands and throw some of those bombs into leadership, where they have to, to have their own beliefs for the beliefs of the body.

Ted Simons: And over in the Senate now, President Biggs, remains, Steve, the majority leader, and we have David Livingston, the majority whip, and why those two gentlemen?

Jeremy Duda: Well, over in the house, I think that shows you that, whatever deals are cut with the more moderate members, in the house, this is still a pretty conservative caucus. Montenegro, and I think that tells you about what direction the caucus will be going.

Ted Simons: I meant the house as opposed to the Senate. I don't want to scare anybody out there, but, wasn't Livingston, wasn't he the guy that went up to the ramp?

Bob Christie: He's conservative during the Medicaid expansion fight he set up for, for, for -- for, for a half an hour, railing about, about how we got to cut the budget, this is crazy, and we cannot be doing this, and he's a, a big conservative, fiscal conservative, and he wants to cut the budget. He's, he's probably going to get a chance since we're facing a billion dollars in budge cuts. Montenegro was the sponsor of a bill last year that would have allowed anyone who, who, who -- anyone to opt out of, of the performing of a gay marriage and state officials, you know, the county clerk, for instance, this is a bill that many people considered wasn't necessary because, because there is already the opt-outs there, but he pushed it as a, as a religious conservative, and he ended up pulling it over in the Senate, where Andy Biggs was, was re-elected as the Senate President. The majority leader is, is Steve yarbarro, the architect of 1062.

Ted Simons: Interesting. And we have Gail from, from the majority whip. Again, Griffin, yarbarro, these are conservatives with a capital c.

Jeremy Duda: It shows you, pretty conservative direction, the last two years, you know, Biggs has been the Senate President, and obviously, a very conservative member, one of the most conservative members, but they have had the more moderate members, and the other two leadership positions, you know, and they are out of those now, and you have yarbarro and Griffin, you know where they stand, so it shows a bit more of, of a new direction there, and maybe a little more agreement. The Senate, Republican caucus, the last couple years were fractured, and Andy Biggs, when he first got elected President, over there, very, very decisive, you know, came down to one vote, and someone, you know, not sure who, you know, stabbed Steve Pierce in the back, but, you know, this time it was unanimous and, and took a minute to pick these three people for leadership, and so that might signal a little more smooth sailing.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, talk about how this legislature with this leadership, this makeup, works with a Governor Ducey. How long will the honeymoon period think -- how long will that last?

Jim Small: Good question, I don't know. We'll see what policies the Governor proposes. One of my colleagues spoke with Andy Biggs today, and Biggs said I'm really hopeful that we can work together and put out a, a did, that they can work together and put out a budget, and rather than everyone doing their own thing, we can give get on the same page and put out a proposal and fastrack this to the legislature. But, you know, it does -- it's not -- it seems like, doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but when Governor Brewer came into office, there was an expectation that from the Republican leadership team, that wow, we don't have to deal with janet napolitano. We'll have smooth sailing and, and things did not necessarily work out that way, so, you know, always, kind of something that we'll have to wait and see, although all indications are from what people are saying that these guys are going to be able to get along.

Bob Christie: But, as we know from Jan, as conservative as she is, she understood what, what she, she decided what, what she felt, the state needed, budget wise, and she pushed back, and Andy Biggs, talked to him a couple of weeks ago, and he said I want someone that I can work with. He was not able to work with, with the Governor very well, and the current Governor.

Jeremy Duda: Right, and I think that, that at least initially they will be able to get along, you know, and Brewer and the legislature, very quickly developed this combative relationship and it carried on for six years and, and Doug Ducey won't come in and push for a hike, and we know that much right now.

Ted Simons: So, if he's not going -- I hate to interrupt but if he's not pushing for a tax hike, how can they handle this?

Jeremy Duda: Nobody seems to know, and you have, I think, $9.2 billion, two-thirds of it is basically off limits, and they cannot touch it, and you have 3 million and, and, you know, and universe, the biggest pot of that, and that's probably going to get cuts, but you cannot cut it off from there, and no one knows where you can make the cuts but no one is sure where you can get other money, and we have, you know, all these one-time out of the box solutions, we came up with in the last crisis, a lot of these are not available, and we have securitized the revenue and we cannot resell the buildings, and a lot of the funds that we swept haven't been replenished and, and you know, you talk to, both the gubernatorial campaigns a couple of weeks ago about this, and neither Doug or Fred had the slightest idea what they would do. The legislative leaders, like John Cavanaugh, and no idea, and nobody really has any idea.

Bob Christie: It's, it's going to be an extremely difficult job for, for, for the new leadership team, at the executive level, and in the legislature.

Ted Simons: All right, let's get to some of the statewide races while we have time here, and mark in exceeding Tom horn, and how will that be different? Mark Brnovich.

Jim Small: I think, you know, Tom horn, for the past four years was, really, kind of using that to run for Gyorgy. I think that was the expectation, 2014, he would have been amongst the field of the Republicans. So, there was, you know, some, some decisions made, and some of the, some of the -- I think some of the, some of the things that we have heard characterized as grandstanding that happened that seemed, that seemed designed to try to, to try to craft an image for him to run for offers and, and you know, and I don't know if Mark Brnovich has any designs on running for higher office. The Republican and the Governor seat, eight years there, so, you know, there may be a bit less of that, he seems more profile, less of, of a, a Veteran politician, certainly, than a guy like Tom was.

Bob Christie: And we probably will see some more aggressive action against the Government and, and you know, he's criticized Tom horn for not suing the, the Federal Government, not joining a bunch of Republican attorney generals and Suing over epa rules, and you can expect that on January 10.

Bob Christie: And other, other similar --

Ted Simons: Ok. And how will Michelle Reagan differ from Ken Bennett at the Secretary of State's office?

Jeremy Duda: That's a little harder to say. Some of this will depend on what kinds of, of things she's going to try and get the legislature to do. There is very little you can really do to effect the policy within the Secretary of State's duties. You can push issues and, you know, we have seen the last few Secretary of States do that. Michelle Reagan has had ambition legislation, and ambition ideas but has dialed a lot of that back. She ran a bill earlier to require disclosure of dark money, not looking to do it, and does not want to any more, and he said her experience running that bill taught her that there is a lot that we cannot do. And she ran that bill, part of the omnibus bill that would prohibit the practice of the ballot harvesting, as she calls it, the early ballot collections. She's told us she's not really looking to do that. She wants a signed authorization by both the voter and the ballot collector to establish a chain of custody. And, and so, it's hard to say what kind of major -- I don't know if we are going to see major changes under her, but, but --

Ted Simons: Ok. Let's get to the education department here. Diane Douglas, how will she differ from John, and please don't mention blogging.

Bob Christie: She probably won't blog, we'll be lucky if we see her based on the campaign, but I think that the first thing that she will do is put people into that department that, that mirror her philosophy. Conservative. Push-back against the Federal Government, and the problem with the education department is you are, basically, a funnel for Federal dollars. So what dollars do you turn away, and the second thing that they do is they help with the curriculum for, for the schools around the state. And, and you know, do they complete redo the test, or the new, new test? Do they get rid of the common core? She has to get the board of education onboard to do that.

Ted Simons: What do you think about that?

Jim Small: That's the one thing, we checked an office manager like an agency head, and it's someone who has a vote, but only one of many, and you know, the other thing that the department of education does, that's really a big thing, is collect and disseminate data from the schools, from the testing, from the grades, from the school performance. And all that stuff, and that's another big thing, and that was something that John really pushed for when he was in the legislature, in terms of revamping the system, and really that was, that was one of his top priorities in the last four years, so that's something that will continue on, but it's, you know, in terms of the managing, I think it's a large bureaucracy.

Bob Christie: Right.

Ted Simons: And we have got to stop here but I want to ask one question, yes or no, for all the teachers out there, do you think that common core survives?

Jim Small: Yeah.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Jeremy Duda: I think so.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Bob Christie: I think it's gone.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Bob Christie: Yeah.

Ted Simons: All right. Teachers would love to hear that one. And gentlemen, good to have you here and thanks for joining us. Monday on Arizona Horizon, former ambassador Kurt Volker will join us to discuss the latest in foreign affairs, and we'll hear about an ASU initiative to prevent child bullying, that's Monday on the next Arizona Horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

Jim Small:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Jeremy Duda:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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