The other day I put up a post entitled "An open letter to Paul Eckerstrom."
It had to do with how disappointed I was, including in myself, for supporting a guy who clearly was not up to the job as state party chair. He quit after only thirteen days.
In the process I had voted against Don Bivens, who I believe has done a pretty good job over the past couple of years as state party chair. Yeah, we did lose several legislative races last year (when we faced the triple whammy of McCain at the top of the ticket, prop 102 and continuing to run against a Republican gerrymander that we were handed by the supposedly "non-partisan" redistricting commission in 2001.) I know the state party has made getting a fair redistricting following the 2010 census a high priority.
Despite that, under Bivens we have outraised and outorganized the Republicans (this is still a state with a clear Republican voter registration edge, but less so than it has been in the past.) Looking past the legislative losses, we gained a congressional district (this one), and came literally within a couple hundred votes of going from no seats on the five member corporation commission to gaining majority (3 out of 5) control. As it is, we have two seats on the commission and with two more Republican seats up in 2010 I believe there is a very good chance we could pick up a majority. And winning seats on the commission is something that has been a party priority since, well, I became active but we never were able to pull it out until this past year.
More the point, Bivens this week sent out a letter to all of us on the state committee saying that he gets it. I believe him about that. He knows that we are all disappointed about the legislative races. And he's prepared to lead on that. Certainly now everyone in the state has seen point blank what this legislature, with a Republican Governor who would sign whatever budget they send her, will do. I've had conversations with people the past few years, when Janet Napolitano was providing a safety zone against legislative excesses, say "they wouldn't really cut that much out of the schools." Well, they will. They are. People can see that now. So we have a chance to make substantial gains in the legislature this year.
And I believe that Don Bivens is the guy who can help us do it-- he certainly has made it clear that he can and does learn by experience. Further, in picking himself up from the stunning loss of a couple of weeks ago and getting back in the saddle, he's showing that he is capable and willing to shake it off, and to stay in for the long haul. That is exactly the role model we need as we go back to work on the legislative races. The truth is, we all lost those races last year. But the gains that he made, in helping us organize and gain more voters across the state, are long term gains.
One thing that Paul Eckerstrom said in his speech that resonated was to develop a think tank to balance some of the garbage that comes from the Goldwater Institute(something that a lot of us have talked about in the past.) But I found out later that Don Bivens had talked to Vince Rabago about it at a meeting just the night before last month's vote, just he didn't discuss it in his acceptance speech. But he supports the idea too.
So although I did not vote for Mr. Bivens two weeks ago (and told him I hadn't), I will vote for him this time around. It's not often in life that if you make a mistake you get a do-over, but I'm glad that this time I get one. And this time I will make the right decision, and vote for Don Bivens for Arizona Democratic Party chair.