On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: Alan Storm, CEO and superintendent of the Pima County Joint Technical Education District, talks about why lawmakers need to reverse an upcoming $30 million budget cut or the JTEDs are going to go out of business. (More on that in this week's Skinny.)
Then Bruce Ash, the Republican National Committee for Arizona, and attorney Jeff Rogers, the former chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, talk about the GOP presidential jamboree, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain's reelection challenges and the degree of polarization in today's politics.
You can watch online above or catch the show at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on broadcast, or at 5 p.m. Sunday on KXCI, 91.3 FM.
Here's a transcript of the show:
(Nintzel) Hello. I'm Jim Nintzel and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Before we get to our panel on what's going on in politics this week, we're kicking off today's show with Dr. Alan Storm, the CEO and Superintendent of the Pima County Joint Technical Education District or JTED. JTED provides career and technical education in nursing, auto repair, computer programming and other vocational areas. They've been much in the news recently because they're facing a crippling $30 million budget cut if state lawmakers don't act soon. Dr. Storm, welcome to Zona Politics. So, explain to us a little bit about what these JTEDs are and the types of classes.
(Storm) Most states have regional vocational career and technical education high schools. Arizona does not make a provision for that, but they do have a provision where counties can vote to establish such a district. And essentially it's five cent tax per $100 on secondary assessed valuation. So it's a very small tax, but it is the initial funding to start the vocational career tech ed program. That is then added to by the equalization formula from the Arizona Department of Education to fully fund the program.
(Nintzel) And in some cases kids are taking classes at their own high school and other cases they're traveling to a central facility where you have the lab space.
(Storm) That's correct. Every high school in the county has current JTED classes. and they're referred to as satellite sites. We the JTED oversees these classes and funds them. Where the generation of most of the JTED funding comes from is those classes in the high schools. On top of that, we do run central campus facilities where we have built campus structures, and run programs that are much more expensive and, for example, because of the size of the programs, we can run these classes that are fairly costly, where the high schools' 50-minute period a day, can't really generate the money they need to do these programs, such as the nursing program, medical assistance program.
(Nintzel) And you graduate what, 96% of the kids, and from what I hear from the folks at the Chamber of Commerce, it's because you help kids find a passion and a reason to stay in school.
(Storm) That's correct, and it really is hands-on instruction. It's really very actively involved students. They walk in they immediately go to a computer, or they start doing blood pressure or they start taking needles and injecting IV lines and drawing blood—these kinds of things and the kids are very excited about this. And the Arizona Department of Education their figures, not mine, they have studied it, the Morrison Institute at the Arizona State University have studied it, and they show that students who take two classes of technical education graduate at 96%.
(Nintzel) And you're looking at $30 million in cuts statewide, I think $14 million here in Pima County, and what's the impact of that?
(Storm) The impact is really devastation. We were cut back in 2010, we were cut $30 million. That meant all ninth grade funding went away, so we don't service ninth grade funding any longer and we've been criticized by the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity study, and, again, the Morrison Institute, saying, "Why aren't you people starting in the ninth grade?" That's what the national model is for career and technical education So, the additional $30 million cut what it will do is that it will start member districts because they will be penalized for students taking career and technical education classes and penalized is my word, that's not the word from the legislature, but that's how I see it. The district will be charged for every student who takes a
(JTED) class. Therefore, the districts are going to have to start cutting career and tech ed classes, cutting the teacher, that cuts the students who generate the funding that becomes JTED. So, within about a two-year cycle, there will be no funding left.
(Nintzel) So you have the support of the business community, the education community, does it seem like lawmakers are listening?
(Storm) I think they are because people are sort of forcing them to listen. They've really said, "This is important to us. This is important for economic development for the state. Why would you kill these programs, which lead to jobs that we need in the state. The business community, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Greater Phoenix Leadership group, they have been really all over this. We've had huge support from companies like Sundt. Those folks have talked to the legislators and said, "We want this money back."
(Nintzel) And about a minute left here but Governor Ducey has proposed an alternative plan that would take about $10 million a year and make it available through a competitive bid process What do you think of that plan?
(Storm) I think if that's a plan on top of making sure we get the $30 million funding back first, that could be a very viable plan, other than it really asks businesses to match all the funding, and I think businesses are pretty reticent to fund education.
(Nintzel) Alright, well, good luck on your efforts at the legislature. We'll see where the story goes. We'll follow it here and in the pages of Tucson Weekly. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Alan Storm. We will be right back with attorney Jeff Rogers and Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash to talk about Donald Trump, John McCain and a whole bunch more.
(Nintzel) Joining me now to talk about the presidential race and much more, Bruce Ash, the Republican National Committeeman for Arizona and attorney Jeff Rogers, the former chair of the Pima County Democratic Party Welcome to both of you.
(Rogers) Thanks. Good to be here.
(Nintzel) In this Republican primary, Bruce, the candidates, or the voters are going to be deciding next week in Iowa. I know as chairman of the RNC Rules Committee, or not chairman, but you're .... Are you chairman?
(Ash) I am chairman.
(Nintzel) You're chairman, you can't really weigh in on candidates themselves, but it does seem, with some of the poll numbers I've seen that people, voters out there have become much more warm to the idea of seeing Donald Trump as a potential nominee. At one point his number was very low and it's really climbed, is that happening as well among what we, maybe we'd call the Republican elite warming to the idea of Trump as the nominee.
(Ash) Well, as far as Iowa, the hand should be on the early carve out states. I'm not sure that the polls that have been done for the last, seems like forever mean too much. There are still something like 30% of the caucus voters potentially in Iowa who have not made up their mind, and the tendency is to walk into a caucus meeting, and often times switch the person that you thought you were supporting before you walk in. The Republican race is going to be very slow and very incremental, because between February 1 and March 15, as opposed to prior years, nearly all of our contests will be proportional, so even if a candidate like Donald Trump, who seems to have sort of this large edge in the sort of scientific polling right now or unscientific as the case might be in some cases, whoever wins is only going to get a proportion of votes. There's not going to be any winner-take-all except for South Carolina. There's not going to be any big Super Tuesday the first Tuesday in March. We're probably looking at 60%, roughly, of all the Republican delegates slots being selected by the 22nd of March, but it's going to be very, very proportional, even as you go past that.
(Nintzel) Jeff, your thoughts on what you're seeing happening in the Republican primary.
(Rogers) Well, I think it's a long slog, as Bruce described it, and it's — I wouldn't have, if you'd told me six months from now we were looking at Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump as the leaders in this race, I would have said you're crazy. But that's just how crazy this is. There does seem to be a slight movement of some party people toward Donald Trump and I think that's because they perceive him as actually the lesser of two evils. Ted Cruz might be the worst possible candidate that they could have. And we saw Charles Grassley endorse Trump the other day. We saw, was it Jerry Falwell? .... Sarah Palin. I mean, so, I wouldn't call her a traditional Republican Party person, but there does seem to be an acceptance like this: “He’s not as bad as Ted Cruz." And, um, but I think what you could see happen is that could coalesce toward something until Cruz is down in the bottom in the polls. If that happens, then you could see some of the more traditional people maybe rising up. There are too many other Republican candidates that are not Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in this race right now, and so if some of those began to drop out, Kasich and others, maybe their support goes to the more mainstream republican candidates so-called establishment candidates, and certainly an American, and I would sure like to see that. happen, because I find Ted Cruz to be particularly frightening, and I find Donald Trump to be only slightly less frightening.
(Ash) Well, you know I can't speak to Jeff's fright and all right now, but this is a very interesting process. Some people criticize the fact that the American presidency takes roughly two years to be decided. I like the idea that we see our men and women under fire, whether it's in front of Megyn Kelly or somebody at NBC or CBS News, or CNN, I like to see them under fire. I like to see them making decisions on the fly. I like to see them rise, and I like to see what happens when sometimes they goof and they mis-state, or they over-state, as what happened with Ted Cruz the other day on this tithing issue. This ought to be a long vetting process, and we're certainly going to have that, at least in the Republican Party, and even I think Mrs. Clinton is being vetted. There's a great deal of concern about some of the stands that she's taken and some of the things that have plagued her over a period of time. The real kind of "inside baseball" that's going to be going on inside the Democratic Party is gearing up for a second ballot at the convention if that happens There is no such thing as a brokered convention. There's not four guys sitting in the back of the room, filled with smoke who are making the decision, "Well it's going to be our guy, it's going to be this guy, it'll be that guy.” It really is the delegates who are going to be unleashed on a second ballot if that's what occurs. And it'll be the party, the candidacy whose people have the greatest impact converting some of those second-ballot delegates. And that's really what's going on. In Iowa for example right now whereas the other candidates have upwards of 200 operatives working these caucus meetings, Donald Trump only has 20. He doesn't at this point in time really have the apparatus and the organization in some of these states that the other candidates have because they've been around for a longer period of time.
(Rogers) And that's a good point and that also speaks to Hillary Clinton. Just like Trump's supporters, Bernie Sanders supporters are people who typically have not been part of the process in the caucuses, and so what we expect is that Clinton, while they might be tied in polling or very close, that she has a much better organization on the ground, and most of her supporters are people who have been to caucuses before. And that's the same defect that Donald Trump has on the ground in Iowa. A lot of people might be screaming in support of him and going to his rallies. Will they show up in this kind of unusual caucus process where people get in a room, go to various corners to support candidates, and if they don't in the Democratic case, if you don't have over 15% support, they don't count. Your supporters need to go to another corner and pick Hillary or Bernie Sanders, so it's an unusual process It's not at all like a primary.
(Nintzel) And what about on the Democratic side? Is Bernie surging against Hillary, here, and it looks like people are finally getting ready to vote?
(Rogers) I think that one of the problems we have is that Iowa and New Hampshire are not very representative of what America looks like and that's a problem for both Republicans and the Democrats. It would be much better if we had maybe a three-state primary going on with larger and more representative states than an Iowa or New Hampshire because I think that whatever happens there is not really going to reflect what is going to happen in the rest of the states. But it can put a little bit of a crimp in somebody's campaign, so if Bernie Sanders were to upset her in one or both of those states, New Hampshire being the most likely one, that could be seen as a setback for her, but I fully expect Clinton to survive and make it through and not even have to have a second ballot at the convention. But what Bernie Sanders could do if his campaign maintains this strength, is he could weaken her as a general election candidate as time goes on.
(Ash) If I could speak to the issue of the four early "carve out" states The RNC rules committee back in our summer meeting proposed an amendment to our rules that wouldn't impact this election but would impact the 2020 cycle where the four early "carve out" states would lose that status. There is a concern within the Republican party that because there's such an emphasis placed on them so early and it's usually a pretty right-wing kind of a slant that those four states have ...
(Rogers) and left-wing, in our case.
(Ash) Yeah, exactly — that we gear toward the right, Democrats gear toward the left, neither party or the candidates are very happy, because they would prefer the message to be more middle-of-the-road, you know, either center right or center-left. I had the same conversation with Jim Roosevelt, who is my peer, chairman with the DNC, and I was surprised that they're actually talking and thinking about the same thing, thinking about the same problem Jeff just mentioned, going too far to the left at the same time we are. So, even though the folks from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina aren't really happy about this, the rest of the state parties are, and I think probably future presidential candidates will be happier if we do eliminate them.
(Nintzel) So the long tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire may be coming to an end after this cycle.
(Ash) Well it's possible, but they're not going to be given early carve-out status when nobody else can compete in a particular period of time.
(Nintzel) Let's talk about what's going on here in Arizona with John McCain. Bruce, recently the Maricopa County Republican Party passed an "Anybody But McCain" resolution. Kelly Ward, the former state lawmaker, is trying to upset him in the primary here. Does John McCain have a problem in Arizona?
(Ash) Probably not, and the problem in Maricopa County, at a party meeting that occurred almost three weeks ago, would not have approved if the Chairman of the county party would have (recognized) a problem as we did when that same issue came up at the state mandatory meeting which was last Saturday. This is an illegal resolution to make. Our state committeemen and women can't be bound to support or not support any candidate under our party rules. So, we disposed of this even though there were a few hundred signatures signed on a petition to bring it to the floor. And had Tyler Bowyer, who's the Maricopa County Republican Committee chairman, been awake and watching the ship, he wouldn't have allowed that to happen either.
(Nintzel) There is always this group of Republicans who are unhappy with him.
(Ash) Yeah, there are some people. There are some people on both sides who have what I call "McCain derangement syndrome." We've all had that. You know, John McCain has served for a long time. He's going to take some votes we like. He's going to take some votes we don't like. He's sort of an irascible guy from time to time. I met with Senator McCain a few months ago. He is engaged. He was very, very directed. He knows exactly what he has to do, and for us as Arizonans having the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee be our senator is a big deal, considering how many military bases and how much of our defense industry there is here in the state of Arizona. I think when you look at his history as well as the pre-eminent campaign that he's going to run, the amount of money that he will raise versus Senator Ward, I think probably John McCain comes out on top. Ann Kirkpatrick, although she has served in the House really doesn't have the kind of statewide name that John McCain does good or bad. John McCain's somebody they know. If you're in CD-3, you probably haven't heard of Ann Kirkpatrick very much.
(Nintzel) Jeff, Ann Kirkpatrick running as a Democrat trying to make this charge against, presumably, John McCain.
(Rogers) I don't think John McCain's going to have any trouble. Remember this guy's got a national fundraising base. He's going to win. The only thing Kelli Ward can do is maybe damage him a little bit, and maybe you'll have a few Republicans who sit on their hands and don't vote for him in the general election, but I can't see that. And one thing, this is the strongest candidate McCain has ever faced in Ann Kirkpatrick way by far. And the other thing going for Ann Kirkpatrick is that this is a presidential election and last time, it was in the off cycle, and we had probably one of the weakest candidates we've ever run against anyone in the senate, so I think he's going to get a little better run for his money this time because of the presidential year and because of the strength of the candidacy. But he's awfully well-known, nationwide, worldwide, and you know, I've always said that he has this sort of false reputation as being a moderate and a maverick when he's really quite conservative. I will say that since he's been the Armed Services chairman that he has done a much better job of looking out for Arizona's military interest than he has ever done before, and that's something I applaud him for.
(Nintzel) It has been a tough couple of cycles for Democrats in Arizona, Jeff. What is it going to take for a Democrat to win statewide again this year?
(Rogers) It's going to take an invigoration of the Hispanic vote. I mean, they cannot vote as the lowest-voting ethnic group in America at these rates. They're going to have to wake up, register to vote and vote. And the demographics favor Democrats in the long run in Arizona, but if they don't turn out and vote for their own interests, then it's going to take a while. But this does place in perspective what Jim Peterson did in getting Janet Napolitano elected in 1992. Sometimes we look back at that or in 2002, but that was a, you know, that was really a monumental election for us to win the governorship twice in a row in what is a state where the Republicans have an extreme advantage.
(Ash) It's interesting that Rodney Glassman, when he ran against Senator McCain the last U.S. Senate race against him, is now a Republican, which is curious to some Democrats, I'm sure. And I think, you know, Jeff speaks about the long-term voting of Hispanics here in this state There may be some short-term gains for Democrats with Hispanic voters, but in the long term our Hispanic population here in this state or Texas, and really all over the country as these families assimilate within the country, as they become part of the fabric in the community which they rapidly become here in the state of Arizona, as they own businesses as they now are multi-generational, they tend to become a bit more conservative. They may be like my parents who, as Jews, registered Democratic early, never switched their party affiliation but voted Republican almost consistently every election from 1968 on. And I think there's a tendency even here in Arizona among the LDS community they have always been Democrats. They identified strongly though with conservative values, and it wasn't really up until 2006 - 2008 where we saw LDS populations, largely in places like Graham County, Gila County Apache County, switching over, where counties that had never been Republican before suddenly became red counties.
(Rogers) Well, the problem is that Donald Trump, and others within the Republican party, have demonized the Hispanic population, and they've become the mass-deportation party. And, you know, had they followed their own autopsy after the last election and said, "Look, we need to be you know, more friendly to Hispanics.” We need to have rational immigration policies, had they done that, and many people thought they should have and would do that, then Bruce might be correct. But if they continue to demonize the Hispanic population as they're doing, and Donald Trump is outrageous. He practically tries to find a new ethnic group to offend every day, so that, and if he becomes the standard-bearer, it's hard to see how, you know, in even a generation that could change in the Republicans' favor in this state and others.
(Nintzel) Republicans still did very well in the mid-terms despite not filing, passing comprehensive immigration reform.
(Rogers) I mean, we had the lowest voter turnout nationwide in history since World War II. And lower voter turnout tends to hurt Democrats and help Republicans. But this year, we're looking at a presidential race. That's a much, much higher turnout.
(Ash) There's not a whole lot of eagerness and anticipation. Just today the feeling, I think the problem you see lower voter turnouts in both parties, if Mrs. Clinton is the nominee really whoever the Republican nominee is. If somebody would have told me four years ago that 1.5 million less Republicans or three million less Democrats were going to vote in the last election, I would have said you're crazy. But that's what happened.
(Rogers) It is. And the trend, I think what you'll see is you're going to see very high turnout in this election, because even if you're not a wonderful supporter of soon-to-be-president Clinton, I hope, you're going to be out voting against the opponent. And the same thing for the Republicans. You know, they've demonized the Clintons for more than 20 years, and so, no matter who the representative it for the Republican party, there are going to be a lot of Republicans turn out to vote against Clinton.
(Nintzel) That's been something that's going on a lot in politics, today, right? Anti-partisanships? People don't get so excited about their own candidates but they're they very much want to vote against the other team.
(Rogers) We've seen that historically to be true, but never as true as it is now.
(Ash) Well, this is, historically Mrs. Clinton has run, really, as a third term of Barack Obama so far. In fact, just the other day, she said that Barack Obama might make a great appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. I would think that that would not be something that Mrs. Clinton would want to be talking about right now.
(Nintzel) On the same subject of this anti-partisanship and the, sort of the, anger each team has toward each other we are seeing a growth in independent voters, whatever that means, just people who are on their way to not voting at all people who are disgusted with the system ....
(Rogers) It's a bit, though — it's a bit, though displaced here in Arizona, just because of the way that the driver’s licenses. When you come to Arizona unless you actually state that you're with a party, you're shown as (Independent). And there are lots of people who have come here from other states, who are tired of getting the things from the Republican Party, tired of getting the things from the Democratic Party and the and think, wrongly, that they won't get contacted to vote or to give or to support candidates, but that's what they do There are some people who have been off in either party I suspect probably more Republicans have opted out of the Republican party when you look at some of the anger that's (characterized the) party within the past eight or ten years, where they don't believe that candidates have necessarily governed as they've campaigned.
(Ash) They've now changed that It has Democrat and Republican, and you can check either one of them, but you have to write in something else if you don't want one of those.
(Nintzel) That brings us to the other thing that is going on in politics, which is a new initiative that is a top 2 primary proposal in which all candidates would run in one massive primary, and then the top two vote getters would go off to the general election, so you might have two Democrats or two Republicans actually running in the general election. Your thoughts on that?
(Rogers) That's a horrible idea because all of the people backing it are people who ran for office and lost statewide mostly Democrats. They've hired Chuck Coughlin as their advisor, who's advisor to Jan Brewer. But, it's a bad idea I mean we've seen two cycles of election activity in California where it hasn't worked. It creates a strange situation where the party that can exercise the most discipline is going to be the one that's going to win, because if you have five Democrats running and two Republicans, the two Republicans are going to be the top two. And vice versa if there are two Democrats versus five Republicans. And so, it's a bad idea for that reason. And these party labels have a meaning. We have moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, but we have ... people go into the voting booth and they look at it and they know that R and the D mean something and it suppresses turnout. Very low turnout for those races.
(Ash) It's about as goofy as term limits, as goofy as campaign finance reform, as goofy as all of the things that we hear about that are supposed to reform elections. It’s not proven that they help. There's no confidence that I have that a jungle kind of a primary, as they're suggesting, would be a good idea for Arizona. And I would resist that notion.
(Nintzel) All right. We're going to have to leave it there. That is our show for today. Next week we'll talk about how climate change is affecting the oceans, and introduce you to some local authors at this year's Festival of Books. Our thanks to our media partners at Tucson Weekly, Tucson Local Media and KXCI FM 91.3, where you can hear the show at 5 p.m., Sunday afternoon. If you missed any part of Today's show, you can find all episodes at zonapolitics.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook. I'm Jim Nintzel. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.