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KJZZ Friday NewsCap: Trump convictions won't change many Arizona voters' minds

In this week's Friday NewsCap, Marcus Dell’Artino of First Strategic and former congressional staffer Roy Herrera talk about the impact of former President Donald Trump’s conviction in Arizona, the recommendation of a special House committee to impeach AG Kris Mayes and more.

Conversation highlights

On former President Donald Trump's convictions

MARK BRODIE: So the polls have suggested that a conviction of former President Trump would not necessarily move the needle a whole lot in terms of his numbers. Do you think that holds here in Arizona now that there actually is a conviction?

MARCUS DELL'ARTINO: First of all, his fundraising exploded overnight. Small dollar donors.

BRODIE: It kind of crashed the website, right?

DELL'ARTINO: Crashed the servers, which isn't the first time that's happened, in a presidential campaign. But crashed servers, and his fundraising is off the charts. So advantage to him. Two, is that early polls, early surveys suggest that there's not that many movable voters if he's convicted. Now, and I tend to believe that's true. There's not that many truly undecided voters at this point anyway. However, that being said, if you want to be real scientific about this, I would wait a couple of weeks and then do a survey and see where the voters are trending. It's a tight race in all the competitive states. And so we're going to have to watch each of those states and how that polling moves.

BRODIE: Do you think that the reaction of how big or small that pool of undecided or movable voters is, do you think the the reaction might be different here than it would be in other states?

DELL'ARTINO: I don't think so. you know, obviously last election was pretty tight. I think, you know, Trump by most measurements is up by 4 or 5 or 6 points in Arizona, which is more than what he closed in or lost by last election. So I think that, you know, I think we'll be somewhere around that number. But again, time will only tell. And I would say scientifically, I would wait about two weeks, let this settle and then go back and test it.

BRODIE: All right. So Roy, let me ask you. We should mention that you work for the Biden campaign. So I'm curious. So, like, based on what Marcus said, do you think that this register as, this conviction registers on in Arizona at all?

ROY HERRERA: Well, I mean, you know, first of all, there's a legal process that's still playing out, right? So obviously, you know, we have a rule of criminal justice system in this country, which I think worked at the trial level. A jury of his peers found him to be guilty of all 34 counts. And now he's going to have a sentencing in July. So to Marcus' point, I mean, I think there's going to be a reaction to this, and then there's probably going to be a reaction to how that sentencing goes. And of course, that's going to be right before the Republican National Convention, which is really interesting. And then what happens? You know, if he gets jail time and how it gets worked out. So all of that, I think there's going to be inflection points there that could affect the political question.

On the political question, I mean, I think I agree with Marcus in that it, the polling, you know, I think you can make an argument, the polling that I've seen and this is my personal view, has seen, has shown that there may be minimal changes in people's opinions, but nothing sort of large scale. I think a lot of people are like sort of dead set or locked in on their opinions of Donald Trump at this point in a lot of ways, because he's been around for so long. That being said, to Marcus' point, the election is going to be very tight in all of these swing states, including Arizona. It's a game of inches. That's how it was in 2020. I think it'd be the same this time around. So any pocket of voters that change their minds, particularly independents, as a result of this, is important and could theoretically, decide the outcome at the statewide level.

BRODIE: Yeah, it's kind of curious about that, because I guess the question is, if you're Biden, the goal seems to be maybe keep it as close as you possibly can right now. I mean, this kind of like no kidding, right, Political Science 101. But keep it as close as you can so that if there is sort of even marginal change, you want to make sure the race is won at the margins, not a 5 or 6 point spread.

HERRERA: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think that the campaign is building out a pretty significant infrastructure here because I think they understand that. And this is, again, the true nature of Arizona elections over the last, you know, six to eight years, is that all the statewide races are very, very tight. And so, again, you know, having the infrastructure to take advantage of that, staying in the hunt as things close in, is all part of I think what you got to do if you're running statewide here. And I think in the end, we're going to see an election that is very, very tight, just like we saw in 2020. Because again, that's, I think just the demographics and the nature of Arizona.

DELL'ARTINO: I would just add that, you know, even the Biden campaign as of last night statement was sort of like, we're going to focus on the economy and we're going to focus on what we've done to control inflation with what we're going to focus on, what our plan is moving forward. We're not going to talk about this. And so I think that they know that this isn't a silver bullet, if you will, to defeating Donald Trump. The problem for them is, and this is more sort of a strategic point, is this sucks the air out of the room. And if you notice, the media, it's all it's been talking about for the last 24, well, not 20, just barely 12 hours. And I think that that will continue to happen as we move to July, a sentencing date. When that sentencing date gets moved or somehow changes because there's going to be an appeal. All of these court procedures, are all going to suck the air out of the room. So the challenge for the Biden campaign is, how do we get back, a messaging point in that vacuum?

On the House committee to impeach AG Kris Mayes

BRODIE: The House Executive Oversight Committee in the Arizona Legislature basically called for impeaching Attorney General Kris Mayes over a number of things. Among them, some of her, the, her stances on hand-counting of ballots and maybe suggesting to supervisors they shouldn't be doing that, it's not legal. Holding town halls out in some of the rural parts of Arizona and threatening nuisance lawsuits over some of the a large-scale, corporate agriculture operations that are pumping groundwater out of there. I mean, is there any chance that the House you think will actually take this up?

HERRERA: I hope not, because, I mean, I viewed the existence of this committee, the committee's charge, and, of course, the conclusions as a political stunt, basically. And I say that for a number of reasons. One is I look at sort of who's leading this committee as, as in my, again, my personal view as legislators that aren't particularly serious about, you know, conducting an actual real investigation of anybody. And it was clear from the beginning of this committee before even the conclusions came out that they were looking to find something against Attorney General Mayes. And then when you look at the conclusions, I look at them as a sort of list of political, political grievances. I mean, these are essentially things that they just don't like that she's done.

That doesn't mean that they're impeachable conduct in any way. And I'm not surprised that they found that, you know, these things are bad in their view and that the House should proceed. But I go back to, like, what does that result in? What precedent does that set? If we conduct an investigation like this, essentially come up with predetermined, you know, sham charges against Mayes, which, again, are political differences and then spend all time and money on, on an impeachment. I also think it'd be bad politically for them, because I don't think Arizonans would be particularly interested in seeing that.

BRODIE: Marcus, is there a comparison, and I'm not sure that the attorney general be thrilled that I'm making this, is there a comparison here, though, between the legal issues that former President Trump was facing and this in the sense that they can both use it politically to say, look, they're coming after me? When we saw Attorney General Mayes sent out a fundraising email pretty soon after this report came out.

DELL'ARTINO: Yeah, I think absolutely. I, I was wondering there for a second where you were going, but sure, absolutely. From, from a fundraising standpoint, and, you know, catering to your base and messaging. I think that's that's totally true. I think that the danger point is that, you know, once you start, I, I say this a lot, but once you start this process, I'm not too sure when it ends.

Meaning, if Republicans want to impeach AG Mayes, then is there a scenario where the Democrats, if they were to take control, the Legislature want to impeach Republican AG whoever it is? Instead of letting the voters decide, number one. Number two is, I think they got to tighten up their messaging on this if they're going to do it. I do agree with Roy that largely this is policy based. And I will tell you that one of the issues having to do with pumping out groundwater in rural Arizona, those town halls are widely attended by every party you could possibly imagine. Rural Arizonans are have sent a very clear message, you know, that they are sick and tired of foreign corporations coming in and pumping Arizona groundwater. And so I think Arizonans would be best, or Republicans probably want to get off of that fighting that message and get back to maybe some more core, policy discussions.

BRODIE: Why do you think this committee was going after Mayes, as opposed to, for example, going after the governor or the secretary of state, who are also Democrats?

DELL'ARTINO: Well, I think, you know, certainly a large portion of these folks that are on the committee are the Freedom Caucus. I think that they feel like they're under attack to a certain extent, especially with the, indictments that came down, what was that a month ago? I think, in the fake elector case. And I think that there was some, some wanting to sort of expose the the, left side, if you will, of, the AG and sort of make the same argument that Trump is that this is largely politically driven.

BRODIE: Is that a fair assessment? I mean, Roy, do you think that at some point this committee, assuming it continues, I might they look at stuff that Adrian Fontes has done or go after the governor in some way?

HERRERA: I mean, again, I hope not. I think it, to answer the question you posed to Marcus, I mean, I think some of it is, you know, with the governor, they have to work with the governor. I mean, they have to, they have to pass a budget with her. You know, there are negotiations going on right now about that. And they have to deal with Gov. [Katie] Hobbs for four years, with everything that they do down there, right. Because of her veto pen. So it would be sort of not advisable, I think, to go after her and then Fontes and similarly, in a lot of ways, you know, he's, I think he was the highest vote getter last time around, you know, whereas Mayes won narrowly. So maybe that's why their training, their, their fire on Mayes. I will also say that Mayes has been a particularly active attorney general, I think in a good way. But I'm sure again, going back to the policy differences, that's where they find sort of the most differences because of the various things that she's done. So that's that's sort of my guess on why that's happened. And again, I just hope that it doesn't expand in any way, and that this is just a political stunt, that it ends at that.

KJZZ’s The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ’s programming is the audio record.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.