November Election

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From the numerous office races to the immigration propositions, HORIZONTE looks at the candidates and analyzes the issues that appear on next week’s ballot.

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to Horizonte. Tonight, with Election Day just a few days away, how will Hispanics fare in races for the legislature and other offices? And how will propositions passed or not passed affect the Latino community? Political pundits will kick those issues around. That's next on "Horizonte." There are four propositions on this year's ballot that deal with illegal immigration. In addition, other propositions such as a minimum wage increase will have a direct impact on Hispanics. There is one Hispanic running for a statewide office, two Hispanic congressmen should retain their seats, and there are a numerous Hispanics seeking seats in the legislature. Also, will the marches earlier this year translate into turnout at the polls by Latinos? We'll talk about all that and more tonight with Jaime Molera, a Republican political consultant, Bob Grossfeld, a Democratic political consultant, and Dennis Welch, a reporter for the Tribune newspapers. It should be noted that Molera is affiliated with the Jon Kyl for Senate campaign. Gentlemen thank you for joining us on Horizonte. And the get out the vote issues will be significant in this election, Dennis. And we just had another legal ruling, this one from Judge Silver with respect to observers at the polling places. Tell us about this.

Dennis Welch:
Certainly. The judge ruled that the critics of Arizona 's new voter identification law won't be allowed inside -- to observe inside the polls to see who and how many people are turned away because they don't have proper identification. This goes to like a state law that says that -- it limits the amount of people that can be inside the polling, it kind of eliminates confusion and crowding in the polling area. But they did order -- they did order the workers at the polls to be able to track and take into account how many people are turned away. And as they said there is a legitimate interest in knowing how many people that this law will -- actually affected.

José Cardenas:
And presumably for post-election purposes. The law you're referring to is prop 200. The concern, Jaime, is that will reduce and affect the number of voters particularly in the minority community. What's your view on that?

Jaime Molera:
That and the whole issue of voter ID has been one that's concerned a lot of people as to whether or not that's going to hamper folks from actually going to the polls. It seemed as though during the dry run of the primaries when they had a much lower voter turnout and a much more motivated group of people that want to go vote in the primaries it turned out fairly well. You didn't have the big issues that a lot of folks predicted that might happen with voter ID's. And I think it heartened a lot of folks to say, see, this can work if it's run right. It will be interesting though in this general election. There'll be a heck of a lot more folks, hopefully, that will come out to the polls. As to whether or not there's any problem, I think it's yet to be seen. I think it's one of those things where folks on both sides are anxious to see how it turns out.

José Cardenas:
Do you think it's going to suppress voter participation?

Bob Grossfeld:
I think essentially the fear mongering that has taken place prior to the balloting might do that.

José Cardenas:
Fear mongering by who? And what point is that taken?

Bob Grossfeld:
I think the media, in general, just promulgating the sense of watch out because you've got to have ID and its extended no into there will be long lines and things of that nature, might be enough to actually cause the suppression that everybody is concerned about. Jaime, you did say one thing, though, that just struck me as odd. Not personally but the idea that -- the idea that it remains to be seen. I think clearly the judge's ruling says we won't see. And that's the problem.

Jamie Molera:
Are you talking about the new ruling about them not being able to be in the polls?

Bob Grossfeld:
We won't see. We won't know. And it's the taking away that kind of oversight I think is just a very, very bad mistake. And I hope -- frankly I hope that ruling is quickly appealed or at least they can get a stay on it. Because I think it's dangerous.

Jamie Molera:
The only difference is that the people that are at the volunteer and poll workers are not of any particular party. So I don't think you're going to have folks hiding anything. I think it will be almost impossible to hide stuff that might happen that might be of concern to people. I think my point is that as to whether or not voter ID causes problems at the polls, whether or not people actually feel like they're being turned away or being forced away, we just haven't seen that yet. We didn't see that in the primaries and that's one of those things I think in the general, the fear mongering is a lot higher than what might actually happen in reality.

José Cardenas:
Bob as I understand what Dennis said about the court order, it does allow people to keep track of who's been turned away or at least the numbers. Doesn't that address the concern you raise?

Bob Grossfeld:
I don't think so. Because there have always been situations, and frankly one of the reasons as I suspect we all know why Arizona became a voting rights acts state is because some of the -- what seemed to be very mine or but insidious tactics that were used that a paper trail doesn't reveal, that simple counts don't reveal. And I think that's the problem.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about a different issue that's been discussed more in connection with the east coast. And I want to ask you, Bob, and the rest of you join in on this whether it will have any impact here. There seems to be spreading concern, particularly among the African American community, that Black voters won't turn out for fear that their votes won't count, anyway. Not just that it doesn't matter but that there's something corrupt about the system and their votes aren't going to be counted. Does that apply to Arizona , do you think?

Bob Grossfeld:
Yes. I think it applies nationally quite honestly and transcends racial and ethnic divisions. There is simply a growing distrust of the process as that process has become more computerized and there is more distance between my voting and that vote getting counted. And particularly given the evidence that's come out. And it's very widespread about the difficulties with the dibold machines and the computer hacking. It's more than just a small cry in the wilderness. It's pretty widespread stuff.

Dennis Welch:
Certainly the people that I talk to out there, they're uncomfortable with the fact as possible said that there's no paper trail. There's no physical evidence there that shows that yes, your vote was counted out there. And it goes into that kind of conspiracy theory that you can come in, you can hack these machines from some -- or program these machines to get the outcome that you want. And a lot of times some folks that I have talked to have pointed out two examples of other elections throughout the country particularly like in Ohio two years ago where there was some irregularities in some of those polls that kind of seed into that mentality.

José Cardenas:
But Jaime, why would minorities and the stories that focused on African Americans but bob says it would apply here, too, why would minorities be any more concerned than anybody else about those kind of issues? Why would it impact that community more?

Jamie Molera:
I think the biggest -- biggest issue is because minority turnout as it is right now is low. And I think folks believe that anytime you make changes to the system that it can continue to alienate voters. I'm not sure, though, I personally believe it's not the technology that's alienating voters. I don't think it's the technology that is alienating voters; I think it's a whole myriad of things. Our state hasn't -- people can vote by mail. People can --

José Cardenas:
Does that deal with some of these issues?

Jamie Molera:
I think it does. People in Arizona have a long amount of time where they can make the decision to vote. It's almost not a voting day; it's a voting month now. So I just don't believe the technology is alienating folks. I think a lot of things that alienate people are the mud slinging campaigns and the political I guess angst that folks have because they get tired and fed up of not really addressing issues. And they start to feel, well, my vote doesn't count, anyway. And that's unfortunate and I think that's one of those things where we have to address did and early on. I think people have to be much more engaged in the political process and through education. But I'm not sure increasing our technology has an impact. That great of an impact on people's non-participation at the polls.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about efforts, things that may have driven more people to the polls, Bob. After the big immigration marches of last March and April, people were predicting that amongst those millions of people who turned out they would be able to generate 100 -- well, one million new voters. Latest news is that from the advocates of these efforts is that they've only developed 150,000 new voters. What happened?

Bob Grossfeld:
Reality. You know, it's like when you're in the midst of a social movement, it is perfectly appropriate, I think, to set your goals as high as possible. But reality eventually sets in. And the process of voter registration drives is very, very difficult. It's very expensive. It is hard to do. It is manpower-intensive. And you can only get so much done. 150,000 is enormous.

José Cardenas:
Nationwide, though. We're talking about across the country.

Bob Grossfeld:
Even given that parameter, from an expectation of one million to 150,000, that's really good. And I wouldn't -- I wouldn't scoff at that at all.

José Cardenas:
Dennis, the thing that drove the marches is the source of this get out the vote effort is immigration. What's the big issue right now on the ballot both nationally and statewide in terms of impact? Iraq or immigration?

Dennis Welch:
Well, it's all Iraq all the time now. I mean, you've seen this over the past few months. You've seen that shift like where you said several months ago we had marches in the street, we had congress's magical mystery tour down at the border going down there, the president's photo ops and this and that. And now you turn on the TV you can't watch a baseball game or the news without seeing somebody, you know, trying to -- tied Senator Kyl to Bush and Iraq and all this stuff. Certainly this is taking center stage.

José Cardenas:

And yet -- I agree with you, the news reports, the TV and everything else. But if you look at the political ads, both written and TV, I would say the majority is still focused on who's tougher on the immigration issue, wouldn't you agree, Jaime?

Jamie Molera:
Absolutely. And I still believe immigration is a very, very important issue. And I think you just have to turn on the TV and see a lot of the ads that are going on about it and what people are trying to say that I'm tougher. I'm tougher on enforcement.

José Cardenas:
Everybody says they're tougher.

Jamie Molera:
I don't think anybody says I'm the weakest one. I do believe it has had an impact. It has had an impact even though you haven't had the high voter registration. I think, folks when you go too far to the extreme, just like if they were too weak on an issue, I think it impacted J.D. Hayworth's race. In his district it's not what folks would call a conservative bedrock district. There are a lot of folks willing to vote Democrat. I think the perception is that he was a little bit too hard on the immigration issue, making people say that they're going to be felons. Things like that have really -- we're going to send people back by the bus roads. Whether that's reality or perception I think that's really made people say, well, that's a little bit too part of the -- far to the extreme.

José Cardenas:
Do you think that explains the latest USA Today Poll, which I understand has Mitchell up by a couple of points?

Jamie Molera:
And this is a district that Hayworth really should win. And I would still if I were a betting man give him the slight edge in this district. I think he'll get the voter turnout. I think when people really look at it, his ability to talk about lower taxes, lower bureaucracy really fits well with this particular district. I think that would give him the edge. Some things like this he's been pounded on and that might hurt him.

José Cardenas:
Let me just correct I said USA Today but I think its Survey USA Today that came out. Dennis.

Dennis Welch:
Do you really think it's immigration that's the issue or other things like Abramoff and the growing distrust of republicans?

Jamie Molera:
Absolutely. All those things come into play. But it's also the tone of the campaign that I think makes a big difference. And Mitchell has done I think a good job of saying he's just a little bit too extreme. I think if you notice some of the ads that have come out he's really tried to play on that tone, overall tone, which I think which makes a difference in this particular district.

José Cardenas:
Though I think, Bob, there are others who would argue with that and say that Mitchell for whatever reason has come on pretty strong on immigration to the point where it may be costing him some votes in the Hispanic community.

Bob Grossfeld:
I think it's like again welcome to reality. Some voters are going to be faced with a choice that they might not want to have as a choice. And I think when it comes right down to it they're not going to be able to support Hayworth. He has no business winning in this district.

José Cardenas:
He's won for 12 years now.

Bob Grossfeld:
Well, but not in this district. He won once before in this district.

José Cardenas:
Are you talking about because of the redistricting they changed the boundaries?

Bob Grossfeld:
Yeah. His voting record is what's being attacked. The tone is coming about because when you look at a voting record that is not something that would be supported by the majority of voters, it comes off very harsh. But that's the reality.

José Cardenas:
Well, how do you explain another aspect of the Survey USA Poll which is that 30 percent of the Hispanic vote will go for Hayworth? Despite his strong stand on immigration?

Bob Grossfeld:
Don't have a clue. Don't have a clue. You know, it could be support based on party affiliation. But you know, in virtually any poll you're going to get 20 to 30 percent going one way or the other. And in this situation, I think, its name ID, it's -- and frankly it's probably to some extent that element of the Latino community that is as anti-immigration -- or as Russell Pearce might be.

Dennis Welch:
Well, let's not forget one of the other subjects when you start dealing with Harry Mitchell and the legacy that he had. You know, you go back to his years as mayor here in Tempe . Recently there was a discrimination suit in Tempe that was recently settled where they showed that there was years of discrimination with the Public Works Department of that city. That happened under Harry's watch. Now, Harry has always said that he knew nothing about it, that he doesn't get involved in the day-to-day aspect and operations of the city and of those -- that kind of minutia but there are some feelings out there and a lot of Hispanics I know that I have talked to think he should have done more in his years as mayor to stop that.

José Cardenas:
Speaking of Russell Pearce a lot has been going on with him. And now I guess there are white supremacist websites that are providing links to him. Not to him personally but to his website. Is the immigration issue going to hurt him? I mean, he's considered impregnable in his district. But will have that have an impact?

Dennis Welch:
Well it depends. There are many people think that may not hurt him but help him in certain parts of that district. The thing is oddly enough it may help him in that district but hurt his party overall. I don't know. It really remains to be seen. He is popular in that district in part because he is so out front on the immigration issue.

José Cardenas:
But he has stumbled and he's admitted to that.

Dennis Welch:
Oh, yeah. Oh, he stumbled. It's interesting that he left town for a week or two as far as we far as knew just before the election, you know, just before the elections. It's kind of not normally what a politician does two weeks out before an election is to leave town.

José Cardenas:
Jaime what about the Graf-Gifford's election in southern Arizona ?

Jamie Molera:
Again I think that's one where Graf tends to be a little bit too extreme for that district. Again it's another district that should be won by a republican. Republicans have the voter advantage there. But there's a lot of Republicans and independents that just feel that where Graf's position is and immigration is, the tone is too harsh and they feel it's just a little too extreme for what they believe should be representing them. The other thing, Gabby Gifford has done a very good job of, in my opinion, is that she's really not just talked about immigration but all the other issues that I think affect folks like lower taxes. She's been pretty good on that from a republican standpoint. She talked about not having big government bureaucracy. Her career in the senate has been somewhat of a centrist and I think that's played very well in this particular election.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about one of the other races here. One is Israel Torres. He only Hispanic running for a statewide position. Does he have a chance?

Bob Grossfeld:
I think it depends entirely on how big the national tsunami is that's coming. The anti-Republican or Republicans being so completely disaffected and fed up that they stay home. We're getting some indicators of that. Particularly with the lack of return of vote-by-mail ballots. It's just slowed down to a point that --

José Cardenas:
There was lots of concern about that earlier this week. Tell us about that in terms of the numbers and what it for tends for -- portends for both parties.

Bob Grossfeld:
Well, the normative pattern has been, since Arizona adopted the vote-by-mail system in the early 1990's, had been that of those people who were getting a vote by mail ballot, they were typically turn them around in anywhere from 10 to 15 days after having received it. Now, that's a normal pattern as evidenced by other states that had adopted vote by mail much earlier. As we've gone along, though, that 10 to 15-days has started to elongate and people are holding on to them longer. And that is actually much more normal when you look at Washington state and Oregon and California and others. And prior to this year, I was thinking, well, I know that pattern is going to continue to develop. And I thought, okay. That's just people have had enough experiences of saying, well, gee, I wish I could take my vote back after seeing what might happen in the last couple of days. I think what's happening now is there's that dynamic going on, and on the other hand, there's just so many disaffected Republicans. Particularly those who are calling themselves conservative. That they're just not going to vote. Because every day, every week there's a new reason not to participate from their standpoint.

José Cardenas:
Jaime, do you think that's what's going to happen? Certainly the Republicans have a lot more -- they took out a lot more mail in ballots but they haven't been returning them.

Jaime Molera:
And let's face it. Anybody who's gotten a mail in ballot it's about that big. There are 19 initiatives on this ballot. I think it's more of a function of the length of the ballot. People are having a long time -- a friend of mine told me they took an hour going through the ballot. There's so many things that they have to decide. All the judges that are going to be in there. So it is a pretty big initiative -- or ballot that people have to wade through in order to make a decision. But the thing that I think is going to be helpful to republicans, at the end of the day, is that the organization of the party is I think much more adept about getting folks out to vote. And I think you see that now. That's where this whole notion of the tsunami whether or not it's going to take everybody out including local school board members I just don't see happening. I think what you have happening right now is that Republicans that have been able to get their folks out to vote in large measure when you have great organizations set up to make sure -- even if they haven't turned in the ballots they're going to make sure they come in on election day. And I think that's going to be the saves grace to make sure republicans are able to hold on to a lot of key races. They may lose the House nationally. I think a lot of pundits would agree that. But I think the ability to hold on to the Senate and still have in Arizona at least an opportunity to hold on to a number of Republican seats is going to be huge.

José Cardenas:
Let me ask a couple questions about the legislative races then I want to talk about the initiatives. Dennis, will the Republicans at the statewide level get their beetle-proof legislature?

Dennis Welch:
That depends if they get enough candidates in those seats, I guess. That certainly is the strategy is to get the veto-proof legislature, especially since it looks like Janet Napolitano is going to win a second term. I mean, all the polls indicate.

José Cardenas:
You're going out on a limb here.

Dennis Welch:
Going out on a limb. As Jaime said, I'm going to take the prediction and say she's going to win comfortably. So they have been fighting very hard to get this veto-proof legislature. Even if they get the veto-proof legislature it still would be hard to override the governor's veto anyway.

José Cardenas:
You mean even if they have the numbers?

Dennis Welch:
Yes, even if they get the numbers because they'd have to get everybody to go along with that. And that's tough.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about the initiatives. What are the ones, Bob that are on the ballot are likely to generate a lot of voter interest that you wouldn't otherwise have?

Bob Grossfeld:
Well, I think clearly proposition 202, the minimum wage, which disclosure I work on. It has been a major organizing tool among Democrats and Progressives. And particularly within the Latino community, heavily in Tucson , as well as here in Phoenix . And there's been enormous work done at the grassroots level. It's just so straightforward and simple. And it's very intuitive. And I think it plays well with most people.

José Cardenas:
Jaime does the gay marriage initiative have the same impact benefit for republicans, including amongst the Hispanic community?

Jamie Molera:
It should. But the problem is that they also included language that says any domestic partner, even if it's a couple living in Sun City together and they've been together for ten years and they've decided, well, we're going to share our benefits, this would not allow that to happen. And that more than anything else because people have seen the ads on it I think has been devastating to that particular initiative. Had it been just the gay marriage initiative I would say yes. I would think it would have just like in every other state in the union it's passed fairly overwhelmingly. But by including that, I think the proponents tried to make the whole sanctity of marriage the issue other than having the gay marriage debate. I think it might cost them this initiative.

José Cardenas:
Dennis a few second left. Are all of the four immigration initiatives going to pass?

Dennis Welch:
That's up in the air. They're so different. I mean some of these are very different. It depends really whether they're going to pass or not.

José Cardenas:
But most likely, I think would that be the consent us?

Bob Grossfeld:
I'm hoping that wisdom will strike between now and Election Day and they're all defeated.

José Cardenas:
But not likely. We're going to have to leave it there, gentlemen. Thank you for joining us on Horizonte. That's our show for tonight. I'm José Cárdenas and for everyone here on Horizonte have a good evening. See you next week.

Announcer:
Our closest living animal relatives. We dressed and trained them to be like humans but then left them behind to science and space. Witness the unnatural history of chimpanzees on Nature Sunday night at 8:00. Now, stay tuned for Wild Things next on eight. If you have questions or comments about Horizonte please write to the addresses on your screen. Your comments may be used on a future edition of Horizonte.

Jaime Molera: Republican political consultant;

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