Feathered Bastard

Rodney Glassman's Campaign Staffers Jumping Ship, Sources Describe Glassman as "Out of Control"

Staffers for Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Rodney Glassman's campaign are jumping ship so fast it might as well be a reenactment of James Cameron's Titanic.

Since July, three top staffers have bailed on Glassman: Political Director Junelle Cavero left last month; Field Director Kristin Gwinn resigned a couple of weeks ago; Communications Director Dawn Teo stepped down earlier this week. Sources tell me there are more resignations on the way.

Glassman's press secretary Tina May confirmed the departures.

"This is the regular churn of campaigns," May explained. "People come and go all the time."

I contacted the three women, who all declined comment for this story, other than to admit they're no longer working for Glassman.

But several confidential sources inform me that Glassman's staffers left because they were not happy with the behavior of their candidate.

These sources relayed a litany of complaints about the Glassman campaign, from Glassman berating staffers and volunteers in public, even yelling at them, to Glassman's having his brother Jeremy play a major role in the campaign (doing little or nothing, they say), and the fact that Glassman and his minions gave Democrats reason to believe he would sink millions into his bid for Senate.

Sources also claim staffers were upset by a homophobic remark the former Tucson city councilman and onetime registered Republican reportedly made about a gay city councilwoman, saying that, "The toughest thing for me to do will be to sit next to an openly gay councilmember."

Glassman denied making the statement to the Arizona Daily Star, but the councilwoman in question, Karin Uhlich, told the Star that the report was accurate.

Reputedly the scion of a California agricultural dynasty, Glassman has loaned his campaign $500,000, far short of the millions Democrats were led to think he'd spend. 

"Rodney has marketed himself as a multi-million dollar self-funder since last fall," one Democratic party insider said. "[We were told] that he had anywhere from three to five million dollars to put into this race."

Indeed, this source explained that the staff once rebelled when Glassman wanted to let some staffers go rather than spend any more of his own money. More than one source said Glassman was hopeful that he could get at least some of the money he'd loaned his campaign back.

"I guess I don't understand the question," May responded incredulously when I asked her about this. "They're distressed that he promised to sink millions into his own campaign and he hasn't done that?"

May told me she knew nothing about such promises being made by Glassman or others associated with him.

Essentially, some Democrats say they believed Glassman would have helped voter turnout in the November general election through an infusion of megabucks, even though most observers assume that Senator John McCain -- who is currently making mincemeat of his Republican primary opponent J.D. Hayworth -- will steamroll any Dem contesting him in the general election.

My sources tell me that Glassman was, as one of them put it, "out of control in the worst possible way." They say he was needlessly rude to staffers and volunteers alike, and described him throwing temper tantrums and yelling at stunned campaign workers.

They depicted Glassman as a spoiled rich kid with a frat boy sense of humor. One described an incident during a fundraiser where he asked if the host's assistant was an illegal alien.

Concerning allegations regarding Glassman dressing down underlings in public, May pleaded ignorance.

"I don't have any knowledge of that," she said. "I've never heard or seen that."

Regarding Glassman's brother Jeremy, May said she did not know what position he held with the campaign. She also said she didn't know anything about staffers complaining about Glassman's sibling. 

As to the suggestion that most of Glassman's own people want him to lose in his Democratic primary, the vote for which is August 24, May was dismissive.

"I have really no experience with that," she laughed. "All we're focusing on now is Tuesday when we're planning on winning."

Concerning the supposed illegal alien remark, May once again said she knew nothing about it.

Certainly, politicians acting like jerks to their staff members is nothing new. But the allegations regarding Glassman once being willing to put millions into his campaign might give some Dems pause, in addition to the supposed homophobic remark and the fact that many of his senior advisors are now bailing.

Glassman is favored to beat out his fellow Democratic contenders Randy Parraz, ex-New Times staffer John Dougherty, and former state House Representative Cathy Eden. I wouldn't care if the guy is nasty as the day is long if I thought for a second that he could take McCain, although that homophobic remark is a hard one to overlook.

Thing is, we all know that McCain, once he gets past Hayworth in the primary, is unlikely to be bested by any Dem now running. So the decision comes down to which person can go toe-to-toe with McCain in a debate and at least keep him on guard during the general election.

For that at least, either Parraz or Dougherty would likely do a better job than Glassman, who is apparently no golden boy.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons