Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
On Saturday, the Three Sonorans, Blog for Arizona, and Rum Romanisn and Rebillion reported that Andrei Cherny– No Labels co-founder and former candidate for Arizona state treasurer– won the office of Arizona Democratic Party state chair.
While progressive bloggers reported Chery’s win, none of them bothered to mention his role as co-founder of the National No Labels movement. (I’m sure Andrei appreciated the softball.)
I mentioned his connection with No Labels in my non-endorsement of either candidate on Friday but didn’t realize he was national co-founder until today, sorry loyal readers, for this mis-step.
The Rest of the Story
As venerated right-wing journalist Paul Harvey would say, today, I will report the rest of the story.
For some, at the Arizona Democratic Party State Committee Meeting, the big issue with the state chair elections was eligibility. Former Tucson City Council Member Rodney Glassman faced off with former candidate for state treasurer Andrei Cherny (who has never won an election).
Glassman’s personal issues (as annotated in excruciating detail on the Three Sonorans’ blog) aside and Cherny’s No Labels affiliation (as mentioned by no one but me) aside– there were several issues regarding Cherny’s eligibility to run for state party office.
The Three Sonorans, the Feathered Bastard and the other political bloggers tossed out or ignored those facts. It is also fascinating to me that Cherny NEVER mentioned his No Labels love affair in his speech yesterday or his Democratic Party pre-vote propaganda.
The Bylaws Controversy
Although the Three Sonorans and the Feathered Bastard want to paint the disconnect with Cherny’s candidacy and Arizona State Statute as trivial, it’s state law. Apparently, Maricopa County Democratic Party bylaws, Arizona Democratic Party bylaws, and Arizona State Statute all conflict regarding who is qualified to hold an office in an official political party. (Several people speak to this in the video.)
Excuse me… but with so many lawyers involved in politics, many at Saturday’s meeting were wondering why they didn’t see this disconnect before Saturday. Actually, according to outgoing State Chair Don Bivens, they did. Bivens said from the podium that the discrepancy was a known problem that the party had worked around it in the past, and he seemed to wonder what the big deal was this year.
There was extensive debate about this issue at the Democratic Party meeting– with multiple lawyers and politicos weighing in– including Pima County’s Jeff Rogers, Bill Risner, and Jeff Latas. (See the video below.) Risner, well known for election integrity lawsuits on behalf of Pima County, cited Arizona Revised Statute— which states that candidates for state party chair must be elected precinct committee persons and elected state committee persons– which Glassman is and Cherny isn’t.
Many theorized that Bivens, white male lawyer (see video), anointed Cherny, another white male lawyer, to be chair. (Of course, Glassman is also another white, male lawyer.) One can only speculate, but check out Bivens’ beaming smile as Cherny is elected. In my opinion, one picture tells 1000 stories.
Personally, I think Latas has a good point in the video: If you let the state chair bend the rules that lends itself to cronyism and corruption. (He clearly states in the video that he is not implying anything about the current situation.) The video below starts with the debate in the Progressive Democratic Caucus– dubbed “Progressive Wack-a-doodles” by the Feathered Bastard last week when he originally dismissed the eligibility issue. The video takes you through the whole meeting– from the morning Progressive Caucus through both candidates’ speeches (around 9 minutes) to Cherny’s election (279 Cherny – 232 Glassman).
What will be the future of Arizona’s Democratic Party under this new leadership? Only time will tell… I’m leaving an open mind but also have open eyes– not obscured by rose-colored glasses. If the party moves more toward Republican-lite, I believe this would be a huge mistake. There were hundreds of very progressive Democratic Party foot soldiers in attendance on Saturday, and the party would be remiss if it dismissed their views and glided further to the right.
2013 UPDATE: The No Labels website used to list Andrei Cherny as one of the co-founders, as noted in this story. His name no longer appears on the No Labels website– at all.