Election Preview 2014

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Legislative, congressional, and statewide races will be on this year’s election ballot. Jaime Molera, partner with Molera Alvarez and John Loredo, former Arizona lawmaker and political consultant preview the upcoming general and primary elections.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. The Arizona primary election is less than one month away. Legislative, congressional, and statewide races will be on this year's election ballot. Here with me to talk about upcoming primary and general elections are Jaime Molera, partner with Molera Alvarez, and John Loredo, former Arizona lawmaker and political consultant. Gentlemen, welcome back. You've been on the show before. Lots to talk about. Let's start with gubernatorial race. Jaime, you've got at least five Republican candidates of stature, probably the most prominent, a lot of discussion about Doug Ducey and whether he's already faltering because everybody thought he was a frontrunner. He's trying to lower expectations. What's going on there?

Jaime Molera: Well, the unfortunate thing for Doug was that he was the one who had the most money and probably the largest organization. He got endorsed by people like Jon Kyle and Jerry Colangelo, and so the expectations were that the poll numbers were automatically going to translate to, you know, he was going to have have 40, 50%. But nobody knows Doug Ducey. Nobody knows who the state treasurer is. And even though he's known in the establishment world, he's really, when you go to greater Arizona and go to Republican districts, they don't know who he was. So there's a huge gap between like a Ken Bennett, Christine Jones, Doug -- Scott Smith, so their numbers are in the early teens, maybe single digits, but they're 60% of Republicans that are undecided. And so that's the expectation he has to overcome. At the end of the day, he's still seen as a front-runner because with that kind of money and that kind of organization behind him, it's expected that he's going to be able to now that he's doing commercials, now that he's doing radio, his numbers should go up soon. Unless it's countered by some of the other candidates.

José Cárdenas: Who do you see coming out of the Republican primary?

Jaime Molera: The bet is still Ducey just because of that kind of money that's behind him, and the other thing is, I.E.s are going to play a big role in this election cycle, independent expenditures. And there's a lot of business interests that are lining themselves behind Ducey. And that's probably what will give him the edge. A lot of people are talking about Scott Smith because he has a lot of connections to different cities around Arizona being the very prominent mayor, Christine Jones having a lot of money, Ken Bennett, the question whether he can catch fire with the precinct committee people and the rank and file Republicans. But Ducey has that that core establishment and those dollars, that should be effective for him.

José Cárdenas: So John, the thinking is that on the Democratic side, Fred Duval's best shot is if these 4 Republicans, and there are a couple more than four, tear themselves apart in the primary and don't have enough time to recover for the general. What do you think of that?

John Loredo: Sure, I mean, that's always the bet. It's good for Duval to be sitting there with no primary opponent for sure; he can spend time raising money and doing what he needs to do to prep himself for the general election in November.

José Cárdenas: Any concern though that he gets off the radar and nobody is even thinking about him?

John Loredo: I don't think so. It's a good opportunity for him to raise money and not have to spend it now. He can push all of it out to November. And whereas in the Republican primary, you're going to have people running against each other. With that many people in the field, they're going to have to spend their money in order to make sure they win. That's the bottom line. There's going to be undecided voters, they're going to have to spend a lot of money. They're going to have to raise a lot of money to replenish their funds in a shorter period of time than DuVal would have had.

José Cárdenas: And who is the ideal candidate from Duval's perspective to run against him in the general?

John Loredo: Probably Al Melvin I think, or Andrew Thomas would be great.

José Cárdenas: Neither of whom are likely to come out.

John Loredo: No. You know, I think -- I think it's a pretty general belief that the person who will pull it out is going to be Doug Ducey. Like Jaime said, resources matter. Especially when you're in a crowded field, the way you pull away from the field is by spending money. And you either have it or you don't. And for Ducey, I think Jaime's correct. He's going to have outside spending coming in and, you know, when you're in it to win it, you're going to do what you need to do to pull out in front. And when you've got the resources, you have the advantage.

José Cárdenas: Let's go to the congressional races. Three I want to talk about, two are the races are subject to a toss-up really in terms of the Republican-Democratic candidates. You have two incumbents, Barber and Kirkpatrick. And what should be tough races for them. How much impact is the current scandal over the Veterans' Administration going to have in those races?

Jaime Molera: Well that's one of those things that's like a drum beat. You have that issue that's ongoing, and certainly the Obama administration is taking the brunt of it. You combine that with the economy that's still so somewhat sluggish, you combine that with the huge continuing angst over Obamacare, combine that with foreign policy blunders, all of those things and traditionally as we know in a second term of an incumbent president's mid-term elections that president's party tends to do very bad. And there's a lot of -- For whatever reason, maybe it's a lot of angst for that president, maybe it's -- They're just tired of that party. But the opposing party tends to do well. In Arizona in particular, you have 168,000 more Republicans than you do Democrats.

Every poll that I've seen shows Republicans tend to be just a little bit more motivated to vote. And a lot of it is because when you have stories about the V.A., and people blaming Obama, and anybody that's tied to Obama gets the collateral damage. So, Republicans are going to jump on that. And they're using every wedge issue they can, and when you have races and districts like Kirkpatrick's district, and then you have Barber's district, it's pretty even. Maybe the Democrats might enjoy in Kirkpatrick's district maybe 2%, actually with Barber, the Republicans have a 3, 4% advantage there. That's something they're going to trying and capitalize on, and especially when the margins are so tight, you're going to see a lot of, again, outside money coming in, with the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, which opens a lot more dollars into these races, you're going to see a lot of outside money coming into Arizona, especially from business interests to try and push, if it's Tobin, who's a current speaker of the house, and Martha McSally, who is a very popular candidate in Tucson. They could have a good chance of pulling those races out.

José Cárdenas: So John, do you see those seats going to Republicans?

John Loredo: No. I don't think so. The bottom line here is I think for the Democratic incumbents, they're going have one defense, and the defense is going to be voting records. And you're going to see proposals and voting records in which more funding for V.A. services and for veterans that has been on the table, especially in the house, being rejected by the Republican majority. So those proposals have been pushed by and large by Democrats. And then those cuts have been coming through on the Republican side. So there's a defense there, but the real bottom line here is that voters are more concerned about the economy, they're more concerned about education than they are anything else. And those are the issues that will override I think anything else. The V.A. issue is a very important issue, especially in districts that have military bases and retirees like down in Arizona - southern -- Tucson. And so those issues will be big, but by the time the election - the general election comes, it will be all about the economy and jobs.

José Cárdenas: Let's switch now to the race to succeed congressman Pastor. There are the issues whether it's going to be a Democrat or Republican. It's going to be a Democrat, but which democrat. You got Mary Rose Wilcox endorsed by the congressman and then you got a pretty strong challenger in Ruben Gallego.

John Loredo: You know, there have been a number of polls, Senator Steve Gallardo was in the race up until I think last week and he has dropped out and is now pursuing Mary Rose's old seat at the County Board of Supervisors. Now it's a head-to-head matchup between Wilcox and Gallego. I think you're going to see a pretty tight race there. And in a lot of ways, it is kind of a battle for -- between generations, right? You've got Gallego with a much younger electorate, a much younger base of support, and you've got Mary Rose with older voters and an older base of support. I think what it's really going to come down to is which side gets out their base of supporters more. I don't see a whole lot of persuadable voters in this thing. They're either going to be on one side or the other early. And I think that's where they're going to stay. So, it comes down to boots on the ground, it's going to come down to money. Just like with the other races, whoever has the ability to do more persuasion, to be out there on the field, and in the mail, that's who's going to win this race. And I think so far we see that Gallego is the one that has more of both.

José Cárdenas: So we're almost out of time. I want to talk about one other race quickly, the Attorney General's race. It's starting to get pretty nasty.

Jaime Molera: Well, I'm not sure if it's getting nasty as much as that there's a lot of body blows that are being -- every day in the "Arizona Republic" there's story after story after story on the incumbent Tom Horne. And I would imagine that Felicia is saying that's great, but stop running those stories so much because I'd rather have him as a candidate than maybe a Mark Brnovich who might have the entire the entire weight of the Republican establishment behind him. It's certainly something that Tom has nine lives, a lot of people have always thought about, you know, he's been able to win elections when they never thought he would be able to. And I think though that he's going to have a tough time getting out of this primary.

José Cárdenas: We're really completely out of time, but do you see Horne surviving?

John Loredo: I don't think he survives the primary, but I still think Rotellini wins in general.

José Cárdenas: Thanks for joining us. There's a lot more to talk about. We'll have you back on the show to discuss the elections.

Jaime Molera:Partner, Molera Alvarez; John Loredo:Former Lawmaker and Political Consultant, Arizona;

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