Felecia Rotellini Out of Arizona Democratic Party Chair Run, Who's Left?

Rotellini's not running to replace Bivens, but Cherny says he may take the plunge this week
Rotellini's not running to replace Bivens, but Cherny says he may take the plunge this week

One of the brightest stars in the local Democratic firmament (such as it is) has opted out of the run for state Democratic Party Chair. While another is still considering a run, and will make a decision this week.

Once and future Arizona Attorney General hopeful Felecia Rotellini, who despite her loss to just sworn-in Attorney General Tom Horne scored more votes statewide in 2010 than any other Democratic candidate, has told me she won't be vying to replace Don Bivens at the state party reorganization meeting on January 22.

But Andrei Cherny, who ran a vigorous if unsuccessful campaign against Republican Doug Ducey for state Treasurer, promised that announcement will come from his camp before week's end.

"I'm strongly considering it," Cherny told me today. "And I'm getting a lot of encouragement."

About a month ago, Rotellini told me she was considering it, but now she's decided to stay focused on her law career and for running for something else down the line.

"I think I can best serve the party in Arizona not as the party chairman," she explained to me. "But in the capacity I know best, which is advocacy and practicing law, and working...on economic issues, immigration issues, and on mortgage and housing issues."

(Rotellini told me she'll back Cherny in the race, assuming he does run. See below for an update.)

As she indicated in her address to the party faithful at the Dems November meeting, she said she's still committed to a rematch against Tom Horne in four years, but that others in the party are asking her to entertain other options, like running for a different post. (She declined to get into specifics of which post exactly.)

While Rotellini's bow-out is disappointing, those seeking a legitimate contender for Bivens' position should be heartened that Cherny may still make a go of it. Cherny -- a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton -- is young, brilliant, and has a proven ability to raise money and express Democratic ideals, instead of running from them.

Bivens has said that he would remain a candidate unless someone who can do the job emerges. I don't think there's any doubt Cherny can do the job, as daunting as it is, to remold the local Donkey-Kongs into a fighting force that can go head-to-head with Sand Land's Republinuts.

Indeed, I suspect Bivens may take a powder if Cherny makes it formal.

Ex-John McCain foe Rodney Glassman has been running hard for the position, but he has to overcome the skepticism of many in the Democratic Party who were disappointed by his uninspiring bid against the U.S. Senator.

There's also bad blood over certain statements he reportedly made about an openly gay Tucson city councilwoman, unfulfilled promises on the amount of his own money he would sink into his U.S. Senate bid, and a fallout during the campaign where several of his own staffers jumped ship, badmouthing him to the media.

Former state Representative John Loredo has been mentioned as well as a possible candidate, but I think that was mostly wishful thinking on the part of some.

All of which may leave the Dems with three choices: Glassman, Bivens, or Cherny. There has been some concern that Cherny's not being a precinct committeeman would pose a problem, though I've been told by party insiders that the Dems' lawyers have looked at it and found that there are ways to satisfy the requirements of statute and bylaw.

Should Cherny opt out of the race, or be precluded by the rules, that would leave the Dems with a real Morton's fork of a choice: Bivens vs. Glassman. That's a prospect that few Dems will relish.

(Update: The Three Sonorans blog has already declared that it's official that Cherny's running. But Cherny was still hedging when he spoke with me today. So I called Cherny back, and asked him about the enthusiastic Three Sonorans report. He said that he's not made an official announcement, and reiterated his line that he's strongly considering a run and will make an announcement this week.)

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