Political Roundtable

More from this show

Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group, Chris Herstam, political analyst, and Alfredo Gutierrez, former state legislator and political consultant for Tequida and Gutierrez giver their commentary and analysis of the Republican and Democratic conventions, as well as Arizona’s primary election results, and a look ahead to the upcoming general election in November.

José Cárdenas: The state primary results are in and the stage is set for the general election in November. Our political roundtable is here to talk about the races to watch as well as some of the results from the primary election. Joining me is Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group. Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state lawmaker, political consultant for Tequida and Gutierrez. Also here is Chris Herstam. Herstam served as chief of staff for Governor Fife Symington and is a former state lawmaker. He now works for the law firm of Lewis and Roca. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." Let's begin with the primary race for Senate between Flake and Cardon. I think most people expected Flake to win. Did you expect that he would win as well as he did?

Jaime Molera: I thought he would win but those margins were I think nobody really thought it would be that far apart. The amount of money that was put in for a primary was amazing. And Jeff stuck to his game plan. The only thing that hurt Jeff was that he used some of the money that I think they were hoping to just bank in total for Richard Carmona, at the end of the day he's going to have a tough fight for the general election.

José Cárdenas: And in that regard, was it not simply that he had to spend money, but what was the impact of the relentless attacks on Flake by Will Cardon?

Chris Herstam: I think it takes a toll when $9 million is spent against you, amazingly, only got 21% of the vote and he spends $9 million. But having said that, there still was the barrage of negative ads against Flake and those sink in a bit and sort of rust him up, it bruised him a bit for his general election opponent.

José Cárdenas: So you would think if the point of the ads is you're not conservative enough, that that would stand him in good stead in the general election?

Chris Herstam: I think the good ad for he is off the cuff remark about saying I lied with regards to issues and so forth, that was an attack on his character and I think that hurts a candidate. Having said all that in my opinion, I think Flaks's overall in good shape and he's going to be the next U.S. senator from Arizona.

José Cárdenas: Alfredo, how do you handicap that race?

Alfredo Gutierrez: I think his victory, and that is just victory. And that's going to be very difficult for a democrat, very difficult for Cardon now to overtake him. I mean that victory--

Chris Herstam: The latest polls say it's a dead heat.

Alfredo Gutierrez: They do indeed. They do indeed but I think that at the end of the day, that has a huge public turnout, it's going to unfortunately for democrats, democrats I support, unfortunately going to be in peril as a consequence. I think the Mitt Romney candidacy is going to assure a near-unanimous vote for the mormon community. Something, something akin to what happened with Catholics in the John F. Kennedy race. It's created an excitement that is very difficult to discern on a polling basis or by just simply a casual observer. But it's real. The other factor here is what Cardon has done for Flake is immunized him from any further attacks. They spent $9 million attacking him and he came out of it as if nothing had happened. It's an extraordinary occurrence there for him. It's going to be very difficult to criticize I think with any legitimacy.

José Cárdenas: What about the congressional races?

Alfredo Gutierrez: I think that -- I'll leave it to these guys. That's a race that just sort of -- it just kind of astounded me that this came about, first of all, in the state of Arizona.

José Cárdenas: That you had two incumbents running against each other?

Alfredo Gutierrez: The independent commission was finally upheld, everything that the Republican legislature tried to stop, their worst nightmare, two Republicans running against each other, two conservatives, one of them kind of a poster boy for the establishment and the other a poster boy for the Tea Party. It was --

Chris Herstam: Remember the districts didn't actually put them in the same district to redistricting. This was a major mistake by Ben Quayle. If he had stayed in the house he was in after redistricting, he would have in the new district nine, he would have easily won the primary and been the favorite to win that district. He went into Schweikert's area after redistricting and created this thing. I think it's fascinating that you alluded to it, though, was Ben Quayle, his dad, the former vice-president, who was out there raising a ton of money for him, and then you had the two U.S. senators, McCain and Kyle, endorsing Quayle and still Schweikert because of the long time routes that he had in that community, particularly Scottsdale, he's able to win by a comfortable margin.

Alfredo Gutierrez:In fairness to Schweikert, the fact of the matter is he's an incredibly smart guy. An incredibly smart guy that I don't agree with about anything. He's an incredibly smart guy. He was rock solid and very organized. Very organized, very precise. Quite an organization and from a democratic point of view, it was a delight to see, because the race came about simply because Governor Brewer and the legislature couldn't stop this phenomenon of the independent commission, and then you had the terrible choice you allude to, moving him into the district, thinking he would be easy. And that was a terrible misstep.

José Cárdenas: And Jaime do you agree with the suggestion that that has made it a much greater possibility that Sinema will be the congressional representative?

Jaime Molera: Yeah, I think Sinema has a very strong chance.

José Cárdenas: But would it have been the same if Quayle would have been on the other side?

Jaime Molera: It would have been a tough race. One of the things Quayle took into his estimation is whether or not he runs against Schweikert or stays in nine, I think nine is going to be the seat in Arizona that will constantly be challenged. Two years from now, you're going to have a very strong Republican effort, if Sinema wins. If Verner -- Vernon Parker wins, it's going to be a strong democrat effort. SO anybody who is elected into that seat is going to be campaigning from day one in their time in the congress. It's going to be a seat that a lot of Congressmen don't want to do. They want to be in a seat like Twin Falgs; that's safe, they can get in there, you're not going to have any significant opponent, and Schweikert, quite frankly, he's going to have that now. He's going to be in that seat for as long as he wants. I think that was a big part of Quayle's calculation.

Chris Herstam: There's a brand-new DCCC poll, democratic poll that has just been done in CD-9 and it has Sinema up over six points over Vernon Parker. That was closer than I would have expected it but nevertheless, Sinema starts out with a six-point lead and if it palys like the primary, she could get a lot of independent expenditure from a great many women's organizations that will target women in CD-9. That's what I think propelled her to victory in the primaries and that will be helpful again in the general.

José Cárdenas: Let's switch to the legislative races. The big news is Russell Pearce going down to a rather substantial defeat.

Jaime Molera: Well I would say a big, a big bully that night, in a lot of ways, was Steve Pearce, who is the current president was likely going to get challenged by the extreme right. I know Andy Biggs had been talking about running against him. And if Russell would have wanted, I guarantee that Russell would have run for president against Steve Pearce. Steve Pearce took some heat because he backed certain candidates and was able to raise quite a bit of money to get senators like Rich Crandall over John Fillmore. That would have been the vote against him. So there was some significant change and what happened in the Senate. I think, like I said, Steve Pearce at the end of the day was very happy.

José Cárdenas: And Alfredo, you alluded to the Mormon vote and the suggestion has been that Mormon church mobilized its forces, they're tired of immigration being the issue over and over again as stated by Russell Pearce and that was part of the reason why he was defeated.

Alfredo Gutierrez: The Mormon church is a mystery to me. It sends out its messages and its political messages in ways that are indecipherable to those who are not of the faith. But clearly there has been a dramatic change in attitude. And that attitude is not one of embracing immigration necessarily. But simply one of tolerance, saying this has gone too far and that was enough I think to create this new additional direction and it's a direction now with Russell being defeated twice, that is going to have I think a great impact on moderation.

José Cárdenas: What's going to happen with Jerry Lewis?

Alfredo Gutierrez: If you merely look at the numbers and merely look at the district and the candidates, you would predict that Jerry Lewis is going to lose. You would predict that the democrat, who's known in the district, whose done that before is going to be victorious. But the reality is that many, many democrats just voted for Jerry Lewis and he's become something of a hero, something of a larger than life figure to particularly Latinos in that district; and it has a high proportion of Latinos. Normally they would have voted for him but I think they're going to come back and vote for Jerry. I think Jerry's in a very, very strong position. I think he transcends partisan politics.

Chris Herstam: I think the thing to remember about that district that is Tempe and a major part of Tempe that 42% of the voters are independents. They outnumber solidly both the democrats and the Republicans. It's a matter of whether the independents will remember that this is the guy, Jerry Lewis, that knocked off Russell Pearce in the recall and whether they'll choose to reward him and keep him in the Senate. I think it's going to be a tragedy to have Jerry Lewis who knocked off Russell Pearce immediately get defeated for re-election to the Senate, but as Alfredo pointed out, it is technically a democratic district and you have an incumbent Edmilson, who is well known in that district, that's running, so anything could happen.

Jaime Molera: One thing that could be a tipping point, particularly Lewis and Edmilson, is the amount of independent expenditures that are going on. That's something that's a new phenomenon in Arizona, that's starting to become more important in legislative races and if you look at the totals, it's somewhat surprising. The democrats backing large -- if you add up what they reported to today, a million five. Pretty significant across the state. The Republican party, well documented yet somewhat disarrayed, they've raised $3,900 in the last period, compared to about $300,000 to the democratic party. So those are the kinds of things that could make a difference in these races. So when you say there's 42% independents, then those independent expenditures that can do the direct mail, the phone banking that you need to get out the vote, that's going to be very, very important.

José Cárdenas: Let me switch to the national level quickly and if we have some time we'll come back to the some of the state races. But the conventions. Both the Republican and democratic conventions showcased their Hispanic up-and-coming leaders. You had Marco Rubio, Suzanna Martinez and - Brian Sandoval from Nevada in the republicans. And the you had Julian Castro and his twin brother and -- and the Hispanic Obama Christina Saralegui at the democrats. So what does this mean in terms of where the Hispanic vote may end up this year? Is it going to be as solidly democratic as it was before? And if so, why?

Jaime Molera: It's going to be very solidly democratic in this cycle. The Republicans because of immigration, it's going to be difficult to convince a lot of Latinos, not that they're the better party overall that fits them. I argued that Latinos could fit well within the Republican, even the social conservative structure. But immigration cuts to the heart and I think a lot of Latinos are upset. They have a huge anger at those Republicans, that they felt they vilified Latinos in this country. I think there was an attempt, there is going to be an attempt by the Romney campaign to try to overcome that, to try to minimize that, as much as they can, particularly in the battleground states. A couple of thousand votes could be the big difference in Virginia, a key state. You have a very large Latino population that has settled in Virginia.

José Cárdenas: So if that's the case, why don't Romney pick Marco Rubio as his running mate? He would have helped him in Florida and other key states.

Alfredo Gutierrez: I think there's ideological reasons but the other reason is that his base, in order to win the nomination, he had to move to the right, he had to embrace the Tea Party and picking Marco Rubio would have certainly not strengthened that, and would have made a disconnection from that base. He was prepared to vote for the dream act and sponsor it. Rubio is suspect, not only because he's Hispanic but because he lacks the ideological purity of Paul Ryan. That's one reason. I think the other reason is that look, Romney was in Iowa recently endorsing --

José Cárdenas: We're going to have to wrap it up.

Alfredo Gutierrez: Embracing Steve King---

José Cárdenas: That's not going to win the Hispanic vote.

Alfredo Gutierrez: ---compared us to dogs [Laugh].

José Cárdenas: We'll have to end the show. That's our show for this Thursday night. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Jaime Molera:Molera Alvarez Group Political Consultant; Chris Herstam:Political Analyst; Alfredo Gutierrez:Former State Legislator and Political Consultant for Tequida

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 27

New and local

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

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

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 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: