The Meeting and Surrounding Events
Nearly one-third of Coconino County State Committee Members attended the last Arizona Democratic Party State Committee Meeting of the year on September 21, and nearly all attended when proxies are counted. The meeting was in Prescott. The Yavapai County Democratic Party did a wonderful job hosting the event as well as cooperating with Prescott Indivisible to present opportunities for learning and bonding on the days and nights surrounding the meeting. The Yavapai Dems annual fundraising dinner was Saturday night and some of us were able to attend to support them as well as hear from the next U.S. Senator from Arizona — Mark Kelly – and from legislative candidates. Felicia French and Coral Evans — our candidates for LD-6 Senate and House, respectively, represented us well.
The State Committee consists of representatives from each County, and for counties with more than one legislative district from each LD, and totals over 800 people. (Over 500 were at this meeting.) Coconino County has 39 State Committee Members (our number is based on the total number of PCs we have). In the morning of each meeting of the State Committee, there are breakout meetings such as the By-Laws Committee, the Resolutions Committee, the committee of County Chairs, and caucuses of special interest groups such as the Environmental Caucus, the Rural Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Veterans Caucus, and many others. From Coconino County, Pat Carr is Chair of the Veterans’ Caucus, Don Howard is Vice-Chair of the Rural Caucus, and Christa Sadler is 2d Vice-Chair of the Environmental Caucus. The afternoon is devoted to a plenary session of all members.
Program by Prescott Indivisible
On Friday night, Ezra Levin spoke at the conclusion of a program presented by Prescott Indivisible. He is one of the founders of the national Indivisible movement. His message: “Make no mistake, white supremacy is on the ballot in 2020.” On Sunday, some of our Flagstaff leaders attended an informative racial justice workshop, giving us food for thought in our own organization.
Next September in Flagstaff
Next September — less than two months before the General Election — we will have the honor of hosting the State Committee Meeting in Flagstaff. This will give many more of our precinct committee people and volunteers, as well as the general public, the opportunity to see how the State Committee works and to meet candidates who will be guests at the event.
Important By-Laws Changes
A major change in party governance came out of this year’s meeting with by-laws amendments that redefine caucuses. This change to Article VII was required by a change in state law and reporting requirements for political action committees versus party affiliates. A proposed change had been presented to the May meeting and tabled in the face of substantial opposition and confusion. The By-Laws Committee and Executive Board did their homework in the interim between the meetings, coming up with carefully-drafted and thoughtful revisions and a clear explanation of the hows and whys for the change. The result: A voice vote to approve the by-law change.
You can read the revised Article VII as well as the newly revised Article XIV on the topic of Candidate Endorsements here.
Presidential Preference Election Resolution
Of greater controversy than the by-laws changes was a proposal put forth by Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes to direct the party leadership to file a lawsuit challenging the state law that prohibits Independents from voting in the Presidential Preference Election.
With the Republicans having canceled their PPE, some feared that Republicans would cross into the Democratic open election (if the lawsuit succeeded) and vote for a candidate that did not represent Democratic values. Others were concerned about spending $100,000 or more on a lawsuit when the ADP is not meeting its fundraising goals. Others felt it was so easy for Independents to change their registrations if they were interested in the Democratic PPE, that the party should not assume the burden and expense of the lawsuit.
Nonetheless, a substantial number of the State Committee Members spoke passionately in favor of opening the PPE, which would be in keeping with the DNC’s call to states to open their primaries. The majority of our Coconino County delegation voted to file the lawsuit, but the resolution failed after a hand-count of votes.
There was much ado in the press about whether the party would vote to censure Senator Sinema. It did and it didn’t. The Progressive Caucus did vote for censure before the meeting and then proposed a resolution for adoption by the full State Committee that the party publicize the caucus’s decision. But that resolution was tabled because the progressives came up with a different resolution that would have had the State Committee itself censure Sinema — but that revision was submitted too late under the rules so it is not up for consideration until January’s meeting.
On one narrow issue, however, the party did vote to request that Sinema abandon her support for a program called Operation Safe Return, which would collapse the judicial and law enforcement decisions for asylum-seekers at the southern border into one set of officers. The resolution which passed states:
… resolved that the State Committee of the Arizona Democratic Party requests that Senator Sinema abandon this proposal and work to help resolve the border detention crisis in a manner that comports with the Democratic values of solidarity, due process, and equal protection; and in a manner that comports with the obligations of the United States under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967.https://www.azdem.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Asylum-resolution-sc-9-21-2019.pdf
Let’s remember that Sinema is not up for re-election until 2024.
The State Committee passed two other resolutions on September 21:
This summary does not do justice to all of the hard work accomplished in a very compressed period of time. Thank you to all of our hard-working State Committee Members!