Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rodney vs. Andrei: a comparison of priorities

I wrote a post last month, shortly after Rodney Glassman had announced his candidacy for AZDP chair, on why I was supporting him.

Since then, Andrei Cherny, who ran last year for state treasurer, has announced he is running.

Unlike some, I don't have a reason to throw spitwads because I believe that we have two qualified candidates either of whom could do the job if elected. However, I believe that Glassman is clearly still the superior choice. To understand why, do a side by side comparison.

1. Glassman, as was noted when I wrote my original blog post, campaigned in all parts of the state. Cherny (and I referred to this then but didn't name him because his candidacy was not yet official) waited until Sunday before the Tuesday election to begin a tour of rural counties. As a rural Arizonan I have often seen our candidates, who we work very hard to recruit, left high and dry by the state party apparatus. Rodney has demonstrated his commitment to work hard in rural Arizona (even going out of his way to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot in all fifteen counties when by law he only needed enough in three) while Andrei, just based on last year's election, has not yet shown a similar commitment (as an example, we didn't even get Andrei's signs to put up in Navajo County until early October, and then we got very few of them.)

2. Rodney Glassman has committed to continuing to use the resources of the state party to help pay for our outreach on the Navajo and Hopi reservations and in fact expand the model to provide outreach on all the other reservations around the state. Native Americans vote 90% for Democrats when they turn out, about the same as African-Americans, but their turnout rates have been very low historically. This commitment on the part of Glassman is one reason why the person presently holding the highest elected position of any Native American elected official in the state, Senator Jack Jackson, has come out and stood squarely behind Rodney. I've known Jack for a long time and I know that he understands the challenges that Democrats face in campaigning in native American communities so his endorsement of Rodney means a lot.

3. Rodney, in keeping with his belief that we can be competitive anywhere in the state, announced early on a thirty district strategy, in which the party would set a goal to field a full slate of 90 legislative candidates in all thirty districts and then provide resources to help them. I mentioned this in my original blog post. Andrei Cherny, when he announced his candidacy two weeks later, had exactly the same plan. It may be that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but let's be clear here-- this was Rodney's plan and he deserves the credit for it. I'm glad that Andrei jumped on board with it, because it's a good plan.

4. Likely the most controversial topic-- the rules debate. Rodney Glassman, who has been elected to and has held office as a city counselor and Vice Mayor in Tucson (so he certainly as an understanding of what it takes to win an election,) has never let his commitment to serve as an elected precinct committeeman lapse. As many know, the rules state that only an elected P.C. can run for party offices. There may be an attempt made on the floor to amend this to allow an appointed PC (which Andrei is) to run. In fact, and I've been very clear on this with Rodney and he understands and respects my position-- I might even support such a rule change because I believe that giving people a choice is in the best interest of democracy and our tradition of free elections. However, let's be clear about this: the reason there even is a debate is because Rodney Glassman is the candidate who made the commitment last year to serve as a precinct committeeman, while Andrei Cherny did not (and there is no reason to believe that he would have, had he won his election.) The non-glamorous grunt work of a precinct committeemember-- we all know what it is-- the phone banking, the door knocking, the pole pounding, the table staffing, the signature gathering-- is something that Rodney Glassman signed up to do (whether he had beaten John McCain or not.) Personally, I'd prefer a state party chair who understands the view from the bottom and isn't afraid of digging in himself and wearing off a little shoe leather. Whether you believe the by-laws are a defining issue or not, the fact that Cherny had to be appointed as a PC just in order to run while Glassman took the trouble and showed the commitment to be one last year when it was time to get on the ballot for PC, is certainly another good reason to support him.

As I said earlier, I don't believe that either candidate is a bad candidate, but I believe that Rodney Glassman is clearly the better candidate.
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