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.


Anonymous said...

Interesting blog post, and I respect your choice. However, I volunteered for Andrei's campaign and need to clarify a few things. First, Andrei campaigned all over the state, and spent significant time in rural areas, from the time he announced his candidacy in April 2009. He was campaigning In rural Arizona (I accompanied him on some of these trips) before Rodney announced his candidacy. I can assure you he has a solid interest in every part of AZ.
Second, Andrei's candidacy for Chair s based on empowering the party from the bottom up. He has been a PC and went on to chair his district so he understands every part of the party.
Again, I fully respect your voice but wanted to make sure the record was accurate.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between Rodney's and Andrei's methods toward becoming chair. While Andrei claims that he is a bottom-up grassroots style of leader, the attempts to install him as chair have been a selection of top down methods.

The first idea was to have the outgoing chair appoint Andrei as chair. This failed because it was undemocratic and any organization that does not want to be vulnerable to "dead hand" appointments by outgoing executives, does not allow appointments by and individual whose term has ended. This prevents shenanigans by disgruntled outgoing execs or appointments that might serve some interest other than that of a state's political party.

The next top down idea was to appoint Andrei as a PC rather than being elected a PC in an effort to magically create elegibility with the ADP, (an effort to circumvent the democratic process and gain credentials by appointment.)

The next effort was also top down, and offer to bring Felecia Rotellini into the election for chair by appointment. But this would have been nothing more than an attempt to set the precedent of appointment by party insiders rather than election by state committee members.

Rodney, on the other hand, has the proper credentials, does not need to be appointed to suddenly become legal to run, because he entered the process fully qualified by meeting the necessary requirements stated in the ADP bylaws. Rodney does not seek an appointment to anything, precisely because it is a top down approach. One cannot argue for democratic principles and accept an appointment to an elected position.

Rodney has made no effort to circumvent the process and believes the bylaws are quite clear about what can and cannot be done. The ADP bylaws fulfill a requirement set forth in Arizona statutes and understanding them is quite simple if one uses the plain meaning of the words.

Andrei's camp has attempted to make it seem that the bylaws concerning the election of chair are complex and confusing, when in reality they are clear and simple.

Rodney has maintained discipline among his supporters to stay away from negative attacks and false criticism. He does not start dishonest rumors, nor does he seek to undermine the other candidate's character.

Rodney's campaign has been a true grassroots effort by concerned state committee members who want the bylaws to be followed and the election to be fair. The opponent's campaign has been an effort to avoid ADP bylaws, quick fix ineligibility, confuse interpretation of the bylaws, and avoid a fair election, all of which are top down tactics.

Being nice and polite is important, but just as important is being realistic, following the rules, and not being afraid to get one's hands dirty by participating in some of the more humbling aspects of being a member of the ADP. Rodney Glassman is the real deal, and those who know him are well aware of this.

Andrei, I'm sure is a nice young man, but committee members should not be force to stand the ADP bylaws on its head in order to provide privilege to one of the parties involved.

As the post stated Rodney is the type of man who is willing to do whatever he would ask of those who work for him. In my humble opinion that difference is very important.

Eli Blake said...

Anonymous #1: All I have to say about that then is that Cherny's campaign was conspicuously absent for a long time. We had gotten literature and put up signs for everyone else and had at least two visits to the area by Rodney before we even got a total of four (that's right, four for the entire county) of the large Cherny signs. As for Cherny having once been a PC, I'm glad to know that, but Rodney did what he needed to do to be one right now.

Anonymous #2: Certainly, everything I said I stand by. Glassman is forthright and has done everything by the rules-- and this case absolutely should be made.

That said, a procedure for amending the by-laws is provided for within them, and the one thing I would disagree with is the contention that "One cannot argue for democratic principles and accept an appointment to an elected position." Nobody is suggesting that either candidate be appointed. I do believe that a core democratic principle is that people should be given a choice. That's what many people rebelled against last time when Don Bivens tried to engineer is own uncontested re-election, and the fact is that if there are two candidates and one is removed from the ballot then there is only one and they may as well be appointed.

Though that said, another point to be made on behalf of Rodney is that he can tolerate disagreement (don't know about Cherny.) I had a frank exchange of emails with Rodney where I made it clear that while I support his candidacy I would have to consider on its own merits any attempts to challenge a candidate's right to be on the ballot, and will likely vote not to kick Cherny off. Instead of trying to dissuade me from a position that I clearly hold, Rodney was accepting of the fact and instead thanked me for continuing to work for him. I appreciate that, because it's proof that the people who are saying some negative things about him really don't know Rodney, and really don't know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

What about the fact that a week before Cherny announced his bid for the party chair he wrote an op-ed article in the Republic decalring himself leader of the No Lable Party?
Cherny seems too opportunistic for us to overlook Glassman's continued dedication to the party.

Eli Blake said...


I'm not arguing with you that Glassman is the better candidate. Clearly he is.

We have two seperate issues here.

1) do people deserve a choice?

2) in a matchup between Rodney Glassman and Andrei Cherny who is better able to lead the party and compete in the 2012 election?

Answer to question number 1: yes.

Answer to question number 2: Glassman.

Not sure what your beef is.

Ann said...

What are your thoughts on the attempt to postpone the election?

Eli Blake said...

Ann, I'm glad they didn't. Postponing it would have changed nothing but give divisions a chance to fester.