From the opening remarks of Attorney General Terry Goddard (who received a standing ovation), Congressman Harry Mitchell, and newly-minted Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, things looked like they were going to proceed as expected - some pro-forma grumbling about the performance of the state party during the last election cycle, followed by the reelection of Don Bivens, the incumbent chair of the state party, since nobody was running against him.
Paul Eckerstrom, former chair of the Pima County Democrats, threw a wrench into the works when, earlier in the day, he journeyed from caucus meeting to caucus meeting announcing his candidacy for chair of the state party.
However, an unexpected candidate doesn't mean that a change was in the offing.
That is, until it did.
Eckerstrom told the assembled state committee members of his frustration at arriving back in AZ after attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama only to find the AZ Republicans blaming Janet Napolitano for all that ails Arizona. Even more frustrating to him was the near total silence from the AZ Democratic Party as the Reps trashed former Governor Napolitano and her tremendous accomplishments over the last six years.
He hadn't been happy about the state party's failed
In a development that surprised almost everyone present, he defeated Don Bivens 324 votes to 255, signaling a change in the direction of the AZ Democratic Party to one that is more focused on grass roots activism and not surrendering any district or statewide race to the Reps (something tells me though that there may be an exception to that plan for State Mine Inspector. Just guessing... :)) )
In another sign of change at the state party level, Harriet Young defeated incumbent Charlene Fernandez for the position of 1st Vice Chair. Young is the former chair of the Coconino County Democratic Party. Because of Party rules that state that the chair and 1st vice chair must be from different counties, Donna Branch-Gilby withdrew and threw her support to Young.
Tedski at R-Cubed has a play-by-play of the meeting here.
Edit on 1/25 to add...
A couple of more meeting-related notes that don't rate a post of their own -
- One of the biggest cheers of the day (not the biggest, but definitely in the top five) came when it was announced that the AZ Republicans had reelected Randy Pullen as the chair of the state GOP. While the continued rightward marginalization of the AZGOP is going to lead to a *lot* of pain for the residents of Arizona over the next couple of years (their intended gutting of K - Grad School education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more will cause damage that's going to take a generation or more to repair), it will only help show that AZ's Democrats are the party of responsible governance. 2010 could be ugly for the Reps - John McCain's U.S. Senate seat and six statewide offices (seven if you count State Mine Inspector. I don't. :) ) on the ballot, and currently only one, is held by a Democrat (AG Terry Goddard).
Republican canidates all over Arizona will be in perfect position.
Perfect position to take the blame for the devastation to Arizona caused by their ideology.
- In a post-meeting note, attendees who used light rail to get to downtown actually had a slight delay in getting home.
Because the light rail was packed, even beyond SRO. The cars were so full that people were advised to walk over to the station in front of Chase Field to try to find space. There was an monster truck event at the field, and many light rail users were going there.
There *was* some room, enough for folks to board the trains, but the cars were still SRO, even heading out from Chase Field.
The light-rail naysayers must be fuming over its continued popularity.
...Gerald Richard, former candidate for Maricopa County Attorney, ran for Affirmative Action Coordinator and won handily. Most people that I spoke to thought his interest in the job was two-fold - to help bring involve more African-American activists and candidates with the Party and also to keep his profile up in preparation for another run at a public office. I like him for County Sheriff, but with his background and energy as a candidate, he could end up going much higher than that.
...The Arizona Guardian has more coverage of the election of Eckerstrom here.