Vote 2014: Post Election Coverage

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Post-election analysis and commentary from Mario E. Diaz, president of Mario E. Diaz and Associates, ASU Political Science Assistant Professor Rudy Espino and Bettina Nava with FirstStrategic Communications.

José Cárdenas: Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Thank you for joining us. Voters make their choices in this year's state election and federal midterm elections. We'll have analysis of the results. A look at the winners and losers in the 2014 races in a moment, but first some reactions from the candidates.

Video: I have made this commitment to the people of our state. I will strive every day to make Arizona a place of opportunity for all. I will do that by pursuing goals that are simple to state. More than ever before, we must encourage economic growth, start-up businesses, and good, full-time jobs. Tonight the message goes out to entrepreneurs and investors across America -- If you're looking to build, relocate, or add jobs, then Arizona will be the place for you!

Video: I will tell you I am committed when I'm your attorney general, to making sure that we work hard every day to protect those that can't protect themselves.

Video: We are going to sweep the state, I can feel it! And you know, when I won the primary, I made all of you a promise. And that promise was that I was going to make you proud.

Video: I'm feeling great, we're feeling very optimistic. We think we've done very well so far. We know that the votes that are out there are many, many still to be counted, it's going to be a long night, but I'm optimistic.

José Cárdenas: Here now to talk about the results are Mario Diaz, president of Mario E. Diaz and Associates, Bettina Nava, partner and consultant with First Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, and Rudy Espino, assistant professor with Arizona state University's School of Politics and Global Studies. Thank you all for joining us on "Horizonte." I'd like to get each of your surprises on the table first and we'll talk about them as we go along. For you, what was the biggest surprise?

Bettina Nava: There's a couple. One was the margin of victory in the gubernatorial race. I expected Ducey to win but that margin was significant. A little more than what I expected. And then just low turnout with democrats. I thought there were good candidates, democrats had put up good candidates, but yet there was little enthusiasm in turnout.

José Cárdenas: The two would be connected to a certain degree. Are there other reasons you think Ducey had such a great margin of victory?

Bettina Nava: I think his message of jobs and opportunity was trumped education. I think we can sit here and say that Duval's message of education, they correlate. There's a connection. But somehow talking specifically about jobs and bringing jobs to Arizona, somehow resonated with Arizona voters more.

José Cárdenas: Mario, that's exactly what Ducey talk about in his acceptance speech. Arizona's a place to do business. How much of a factor do you think that was in his victory?

Mario E. Diaz: Well, the economy is number one especially for those that are high propensity voters. We can talk about the Latino community, immigration issues, and education, very important. But right now we have individuals that are flying to New York for example, to work. Those that are in the union trades. There are no jobs here in Arizona. Very few in the construction area. And we have someone like Doug Ducey pounding on jobs and economic development for all. That resonates, and it puts unfortunately education on the back burner.

José Cárdenas: Rudy, a lot of discussion in the papers and in the media about the money that came in from the outside. Tremendous amount of money that went into Ducey's campaign. How much of a factor do you think that that.

Rudy Espino: I think it played a huge factor, especially how early he received the money, it also trickled down to certain other offices, for instance, once Andy Tobin congressional district one secured his primary victory, we saw a lot of that so-called dark money flowing to him.

José Cárdenas: But there was a sense too that you had an opportunity that Duval could have had, Mario, to define himself in the primary and that money Rudy was talking about right after the primary ended, in fact I think the day of the primary just went after Duval on tuition increases. Did he make a mistake? And would it have made any difference if he had done it differently?

Mario E. Diaz: This is the Monday morning quarterbacking of campaigns. And it's very difficult to be critical. But we're not here to sugar coat things. If I were on Fred Duval's team I would have used it, almost $1 million that was used in the primary for whatever reason, to really identify myself as -- Fred as a candidate. That was lacking very seriously in this campaign. And from the general to election day, there are only X number of weeks. It makes it very difficult to get your message out. If Fred was campaigning for a year I think he could have done more, though the campaign was run very nicely, a little more publicity for Fred Duval at the beginning could have been helpful.

José Cárdenas: So let me ask you the question, what was the biggest surprise to you in this year's state election?

Mario E. Diaz: The antiPresident Obama sentiment trickled down to a prosecutorial office, which to me is how can you liberalize prosecuting someone, or the attorney general's office? But Brnovich's campaign did a good job of that. It seemed like all the Republican candidates did a good job of putting democrats in a corner. And we just didn't fight back. So Felecia Rotellini to me is, was, will be a fabulous candidate, and Brnovich, how he won this election is very surprising to me.

Mario E. Diaz: By the margin.

José Cárdenas: That's what you're referring to. Rudy, your thoughts on the attorney general race?

Rudy Espino: Well, I think in some ways it was hard for Felecia Rotellini, it was a Republican year --

José Cárdenas: But everybody thought would going N. because she came so close --

Rudy Espino: She's a seasoned campaign veteran, she knows how to run a campaign, she ran an effective campaign, but this was not a year for democrats especially at the statewide level, nationwide level there. Are exceptions. When you look at some local offices, certain congressional districts, I already mentioned CD-1.

José Cárdenas: We'll get into the federal ones, but let me ask you, on the attorney general's race, Mario touched on this, tainting the candidates with Obama and particularly in the case of Rotellini and actually all of the democrats with one exception. Bringing up the immigration issue, saying Obama is in favor of loser immigration rules and that's a reason to vote against this case Felecia Rotellini. How effective do you think that was?

Bettina Nava: Somewhat effective. It didn't help there's a whisper campaign, true or not, that the president was just waiting for the mid term elections to be over so he could unilaterally act with the pen and grant some kind of amnesty. And I think that hurt. Whether or not it's true, it remains to be seen.

José Cárdenas: Even though it has nothing to do with the race --

Bettina Nava: Yeah. It hurt. What hurt is just the Obama -- The fact people feel disenfranchise and the fact democrats didn't show up. I was shocked.

José Cárdenas: Rudy, you're surprised result.

Rudy Espino: I already mentioned CD-1, Kirkpatrick being able to hold off all the money flowing to support her opponent and Andy Tobin. Sinema, winning against Rogers, we still don't know about the results in CD-2, a rematch from 2012. So I think there are some lessons that Arizona Democratic party can take from some of the ground games that those candidates used to hold off all that --

José Cárdenas: Barber versus McSally? What about at the state level?

Rudy Espino: Look at the vote total David Garcia garnered in his race for public instruction. He garnered more votes than any other Democratic candidate running for statewide office. And I think that says something about just that name recognition among Latino voters going out, turning out for an Hispanic candidate.

José Cárdenas: And yet he lost in what I think came as a surprise -- He hasn't lost yet, we should be careful. There are many votes to be counted, but he is losing. I think many people were surprised because his opponent didn't run a campaign, he was there but didn't run a campaign. Mario, Rudy talks about name recognition as a positive factor. Do you think it had any negative impact?

Mario E. Diaz: It could have, just how Latinos were excited about a David Garcia candidate, let's just say the truth -- There are certain voters regardless, they're not going to vote with a person with the last name of Garcia. That's just a fact. There's no dismissing that. And I don't know how much that played a role in this election. But for an individual who is a Ph.D., a veteran, a professor, a father, someone who showed up to debates, and we had a ghost candidate from the other side, for him not to win, it's a big question mark there.

José Cárdenas: So Bettina, what about that? Not only did he have what many people consider positive, but his opponents wasn't running negative ads, they weren't tying him to Obama. So what could he have done differently that might have turned out differently?

Bettina Nava: That could be a variable. I'm not going to be dismissive. But think we also need to give credence to the fact that Davis benefited being down ticket from just a Republicans and the Obama brand being so negative. So she just benefited from those people. Once they got down ticket they figure we voted three Republican we're OK voting for a fourth. Then you look at district 7, where this mid term election and last mid term election, there were 20,000 less votes by democrats. Who happened to mostly be Latino. Why didn't they show up? If those 20,000 had shown up he would have been only 5,000 short. What happened that they didn't feel invigorated to come out?

José Cárdenas: Part of it I assume was it was a mid term. Voter turnout a low. Though there's some speculation this could be nationwide, the lowest voter turnout since World War II. So what's happening?

Rudy Espino: What we see as expected mid term years, lower voter turnout. But a key thing to look at is who turned out and who didn't. We saw older, whiter conservative voters going to the polls. Being motivated to vote against Obama and his agenda and democrats. And who did not show up? Younger voters, Hispanic voters. And as you mentioned, in some of these congressional districts, Gallego's district, voters there did not show up. And the question is, if those candidates mobilized, perhaps somebody -- Some of these statewide race was have shifted in favor for the democrats.

José Cárdenas: What about the voter turnout, Mario, there was some discussion a few weeks ago about a Hispanic boycott. Any evidence that occurred?

Mario E. Diaz: Nonsense. I won't even address that. Here's a point that as candidates for office, especially minority candidates, we need to get out of this idea that our community is going to pull us through. Because we just can't rely on Latino voters. There's been historical data that on mid term elections like this one, the turnout is low. And it was very low here. And had those -- A few years ago voted, maybe this time Garcia wins outright. As candidates we have to get out of our comfort zone and start going after nontraditional voters. And that means it takes years to be out there in the campaign world campaigning, meeting different people. Getting out of our comfort zone, because we're not -- As Latino, trying to win statewide, our parents are going to tell our children, you can't win. Because there's no precedent. Except back in the 1970s with Raul Castro. We've got to change that men at. How do you do that? Get out of the comfort zone and get out there outside our stereo typical boundaries.

José Cárdenas: Bettina, one last statewide race of significance, secretary of state. Probably the one person with the biggest name recognition of all the candidates in all the races, Terry Goddard. He lost. Why?

Bettina Nava: You know, I think part of it -- She has a great name, Reagan W nearly a 200,000 voter registration advantage, Ducey everyone is putting money into the gubernatorial race, she again benefited down ticket from registration, from dollars being spent on other Republican races. She has this fantastic name. And quite Frankly, Goddard, I saw some numbers, his negatives were high. Because people knew him and they didn't like everything about that because there is some history there. And not all of it good. And she's a bit of a clean slate. So I that I helped her out.

José Cárdenas: Is it your sense that there was baggage with the Goddard name as well as name recognition?

Mario E. Diaz: I really think what happened here is that our candidates are excellent candidates, but what was lacking was a sense of some fire in the belly. And it just seemed to me that Republicans coming in with the anti-Obama vote came in with a certain number already, that they were ahead. And then like I said before, just seemed like we were put against the wall. We were consistently trying to be defensive and it took away from our vision, our plan, our presentation to the voters.

José Cárdenas: Before we move on to the federal elections, Rudy, thoughts about the state legislative races, not necessarily specific races unless you want to mention any in particular, but what the current makeup is going to mean to the new governor in terms of dealing with this legislature.

Rudy Espino: Well, we're entering a unified government for Republicans Ducey -- Republicans hold on to the senate, hold on to the lower chamber as well. But over the next two years, the Republican party here in Arizona is going to have to own up to the budget deficit that we're facing. And going to have to make tough choices. So come 2016, voters are going to have a choice in Arizona, again, are they going to want to send Republicans back into power here in Arizona? And with the projected budget deficit, I think Ducey has a lot that he has to deal with.

José Cárdenas: What kind of relationship do you think Ducey is going to have with the legislature? You saw Governor Brewer fighting with some elements of her party.

Bettina Nava: Mm-hmm. The time for celebrating is over, and it's time to govern. So this is going to be an interesting time. I think he's going to be very hands-on. He's a businessman. He's used to getting in the lead. And leading policy within his own company. So I think we're going to to see a very hands-on governor, and I think he's going to be leading the legislative agenda rather than our last governor, who sort of legislatively driven, I think we'll see a powerful ninth floor agenda, like here's what I hope to accomplish.

José Cárdenas: Mario, are the democrats going to have any significant influence in this legislature?

Mario E. Diaz: We can have an intellect Walling difference and a policy difference. In the last election, under the leadership of the democrats had, it was consistently attacking, attacking, attacking, attacking. And the ideas were short. I would say this time democrats to be relevant, we need to make sure that we're putting forth policies and presenting different ideas, and options. Because if not, yes going to become once again irrelevant.

José Cárdenas: Let me ask a question about one of the ballot measures which was the one on pensions. For the most part, the democrats and their allies seemed to have gone down to resounding defeat in the statewide elections. On this one, though, people view this as a victory for the unions. They're traditionally Democratic supporters.

Mario E. Diaz: People can look at who gets the victory as -- The honest part of this is that if this proposition would have passed, approximately a thousand individuals would have probably retired within the next few weeks. And that is a drain on city services and eventually to taxpayers and constituents. And so it didn't pass, I think the people of the city of Phoenix deserve credit.

José Cárdenas: How much of the credit, though, goes to the unions themselves? Their opposition to it and the money they poured into the campaign against it?

Rudy Espino: I think the key thing you bring up is the money factor. There was a lot of money that was flowing. We already talked about the stark money flowing to Doug Ducey, the Republican advantage. But there was also union money coming in to back some of the initiatives such as proposition from outside -- Outside of Arizona.

José Cárdenas: Switching to the congressional elections, biggest surprise there?

Bettina Nava: I think that we still don't know -- I actually expected a couple of the seats to be picked up by Republicans. And so we're always -- Because that's what happened nationwide.

José Cárdenas: Kirkpatrick, and barber.

Bettina Nava: Yeah. Dispensary expect that would potentially, they would shift to Republicans. So that was a little surprising to me. We didn't follow national suit that way. We're always a little counterintuitive that way in Arizona.

José Cárdenas: Mario, is that something the democrats can breeds a sigh of relief about? We still don't know about the barber and McSally race.

Mario E. Diaz: This is true. I think for democrats, congresswoman Sinema is a for example of a candidate going outside her comfort zone, going into a district where getting crossover votes is critical. This is the type of democrat that if others want to win, and win statewide, we're going to have to emulate.

José Cárdenas: Rudy, you've touched on the congressional races already, but let's take a closer look at the one down south, barber and McSally. She's about 2,000 votes up. If it does go her way, what does this say about Gabriel Giffords' and her influence? She campaigned very hard, some emotionally touching issues, some people think maybe went a little too far on some of the ads. Your thoughts on that?

Rudy Espino: Even if -- Let's say in a couple months we may not know the results, but let's say barber does not win and it goes to McSally. I don't think that discounts Giffords' name. I think she will continue to be a force there in that district for Arizona Democratic party. But this district is no surprise, it's always been a toss-up district, Sinema is now a toss-up district, Kirkpatrick. And I think it says a lot to our independent redistricting commission that they've done a good job, this is their second time creating these competitive districts, the fact we have three competitive districts in Arizona, I think says a lot about the good work the independent redistricting commission has done.

José Cárdenas: Bettina, let's talk more broadly now, given the Republican games, they now have the senate, they have a bigger margin in the house, what can we look forward to?

Bettina Nava: You mean nationally?

José Cárdenas: Nationally.

Bettina Nava: One thing that interests me is for the first time in history we have over 100 women serving congressionally. And that is -- I think that's going to be an interesting phenomenon to watch. So I'm excited about that, because it's never happened before. It's an historic day in that sense.

José Cárdenas: And do you think we'll see more compromise? The suggestion has been that they're more willing to talk to each other --

Bettina Nava: I do. There's 400 bills sitting around, I think now Republicans are going to be anxious to show that again, it's governing time. So I think there's going to be movement. But that might just be my optimism.

José Cárdenas: Mario, President Obama soon-to-be majority leader McConnell, they're both saying the right things in terms of they want to make things happen. That hasn't been their history. What do you expect?

Mario E. Diaz: There hasn't been any history, you're right. They haven't even met, as far as I've heard. This is a new beginning, and if Obama wants to leave a legacy for the last two years, other than decimating the statewide democrats, because I put the blame here on the administration, whether rightly or not, this was an Obama psychological attack on democrats in Arizona. And so I hope the president understands that this was a referendum, and it's time now to talk about compromise. And to use that executive pen, when he has to.

José Cárdenas: We know he's not going to allow Obamacare to be dismantled. What can he compromise on that would be meaningful?

Mario E. Diaz: Well, I think the issue of tax -- The tax issue is important. It's been on the table. I think the immigration issue, do we put a whole plan or piecemeal this? My point of view at this point, something is better than nothing on the immigration issue.

José Cárdenas: So the immigration --

Mario E. Diaz: On the Keystone pipeline -- I'm sorry to interrupt -- Republicans say lots of jobs, good for the country, good for the economy. President says I don't have proof. There's time to come together and decide what we're going to do with that pipeline.

José Cárdenas: Do you anticipate the democrats will take the world ever role the Republicans had and filibuster and keep things from moving?

Mario E. Diaz: We have this person called Hillary Clinton who is going to play a big role in Congress in trying to finish off the next two years on a high note. Or else 1600 Pennsylvania or 1700 Pennsylvania is going to go to the Republicans.

José Cárdenas: Rudy, on this subject of immigration, the president had said before the election that he was going to take executive action after the election. The Republicans are all saying rate up to the election, you do that and you've ruined opportunities for compromise. What do you think he's going to do?

Rudy Espino: I see that he's probably going to push with some unilateral decisions. We saw this in 2012, in June issuing a directive change our deportation policy. So I think he's going to try to force some bureaucratic compliance to try to push certain things that Hispanic electorate have been demanding back since 2008. And I think that's just going to muddy the waters between Republicans and democrats further. We have historic records of polarization between Republicans and democrats, and I am not optimistic that that's not going to change. In fact I see that polarization is going to continuing for the foreseeable future.

José Cárdenas: Could he avoid that if he didn't exercise his executive action authority?

Rudy Espino: Yes, but at the same time he risks alienating that key voter base that's growing demographic for Latino voters who have been pushing since he was candidate Obama in 2008, President Obama in 2012, and here we are 2014, where are we watt immigration reform? Latino voters are frustrated. I think the sign you see that demographic group not turning out in 2010, low turnout in 2012, staying home again in 2014 as a sign that they are frustrated not just request Republicans, but with the Democratic party.

José Cárdenas: So Bettina, your thoughts, did the president lose more by taking action on immigration reform without the support of the Republicans than he would if he tried to work out something with them?

Bettina Nava: It's just a double-edged sword. I don't know if there's any right answer. If he acts unilaterally, that appeals to the base that's been waiting for something that expects him to deliver on the promises he's made. On the other hand, if he acts unilaterally it shows an abuse to maybe some Republicans that are more moderate that have said, here's a guy who talks about bipartisanship but sure doesn't act it.

José Cárdenas: Mario,30 seconds. You touched on this, Hillary Clinton in 2016. Does her campaign, assuming she's a candidate; does that wipe out all the Republican gains?

Mario E. Diaz: She has an appeal; she's the candidate that has a fire in the belly. The economy may be better in two years, it could change.

José Cárdenas: We're out of time. I'm sure we'll be talking about that later.

That is our show. From all of us here at "Horizonte" and eight, I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Mario E. Diaz:President, Mario E. Diaz and Associates; Rudy Espino:Political Science Assistant Professor, Arizona State University; Bettina Nava:FirstStrategic Communications;

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