Russell Pearce's Problem with the Rule of Law; and Andrei Cherny Contends for Democratic Party Chair


In news I broke in my Feathered Bastard blog, former Democratic Attorney General candidate Felecia Rotellini has decided not to run to replace Don Bivens as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party ("Rotellini Out," January 3).

That's the bad news. The good news is that an equally qualified candidate, ex-state treasurer contender Andrei Cherny, has plunged into the fray headfirst.

Cherny had been seriously considering the move since November, but he made it official in a phone call to me this week, also reported first in Feathered Bastard ("Cherny Announces Bid," January 4).

"We need in this era a strong transition and a strong messenger," Cherny said. "One who'll really be able to make the case to Arizonans why Democrats have the right ideas for the state's economy and all the other challenges that face us."

Though Cherny was not able to best Republican Doug Ducey in the battle for the state treasurer's post, he boasts a laundry list of formidable talents that would aid the party in becoming relevant in Arizona politics again.

Among these are communication and fundraising skills — and friends in high places. He was once an adviser to President Bill Clinton, who actually came to Phoenix to stump for Cherny at a fundraiser in April 2010.

Cherny, a former assistant Arizona attorney general, is tough. He's Jim Carville-smart on politics. And he's Bill Clinton-smart on messaging to the masses. Plus, he knows how to raise beaucoup cash.

Also, he's a progressive who knows how to lead. Add youth and vigor, and you've got a winning combination.

If Bivens can hand the reins to Cherny on January 22, during the party's reorganization meeting, the Dems might finally be on the track to revivification.

But it's far from being a done deal. At the party's gloomy, post-election meeting in November, Bivens stated that he would run for re-election, unless a viable candidate emerged.

Now that one has, Bivens is expected to withdraw, but he had made no definitive statement by the time this column went to press.

The other scorpion in the cactus patch is Tucsonan Rodney Glassman, he of "Sweet Home Arizona" YouTube fame.

Glassman's failed and quixotic attempt to oust crotchety GOP flip-flopper U.S. Senator John McCain more than disappointed many Dems. It ticked them off.

Indeed, it's fair to say Glassman, who has been running hard for the chairmanship, is generally reviled among the party faithful, save for a small cadre of cheerleaders.

There's also bad blood , 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.

Neither the party leadership nor the base holds him in high regard.

Faced with a Bivens versus Glassman showdown, some Dems considered rolling the dice with Rodney. But Cherny's candidacy seems sure to quash much of that.

One technical issue that Glassman supporters are sure to raise is that Cherny is not an elected precinct committeeman. Some have interpreted this to mean that, according to state statute and party bylaws, he could not be elected to the chairmanship from the party's state committee.

Knowing that this would be a source of contention, the Democratic Party sought and got a legal opinion on the matter. The result? A member of the state committee has to be an elected PC, unless he or she is appointed to the state committee to fill a vacancy by the county chair.

Cherny claims this maneuvering is already in the works.

Could this end in some sort of weird court battle? Anything's possible. But if consensus builds around Cherny, Glassman would be stupid to be the spoiler. Then party stalwarts would have yet another reason to despise him.


State Senate President-elect Russell Pearce likes to lecture us on the "rule of law," especially applied to anyone who's brown. However, his son Joshua Trent Pearce recently was under investigation by the Mesa Police Department for allegations of possible child abuse.

Mesa PD spokesman Sergeant Ed Wessing confirmed that police responded to a call December 10 from Banner Desert Medical Center regarding a 9-day-old baby girl, the daughter of Joshua Pearce and his wife, Samantha.

According to Wessing, hospital staff told police that the child had a skull fracture, and that the parents' explanation of how the fracture may have occurred did not jibe with the severity of the injury.

The Mesa PD opened an inquiry into the matter. The child since has been released from the hospital and her prognosis for a full recovery "is positive," according to Wessing.

Wessing said the child had been in Joshua Pearce's care at the time and that Mesa cops had spoken with both Pearce and his wife about the incident.

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