Do Arizona Democrats even want to win in 2020? (If so, they have a surprising way of showing it)
Posted by Danny Battista on September 23, 2019 at 1:10 PM
Opinion: Laurie Roberts - September 22, 2019
Arizona Democrats claim to be the party of inclusion. Just not when it comes to opening their presidential primary to those all-important independent voters. The Arizona Democratic Party managed to once again show it hasn’t a clue how to win in 2020.
First, liberals within the party propose censuring the only Arizona Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in 30 years. Then the party rejects a proposal to allow independents to vote in next year’s presidential preference primary.
But then, hey, it’s not as if Democrats will need to court the independent vote to win the White House.
They won’t need independents, right?
They certainly don’t act as if they will. (See: presidential debates, in which candidates argue for free everything but never quite explain how they will pay for it.)
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes urged state party leaders on Saturday to open the Democratic primary to the state’s 1.3 million independents.
“We’ve done nothing as a nation but expand the right for people to vote,” Fontes said, at the party’s quarterly meeting Saturday in Prescott. “This is not just what we believe as a party. This is what we believe as a people.”
Big mistake, Democrats
The state committee turned a solid thumbs down to the idea, despite the urging of the party’s younger activists.
“We’re not excluding independents,” CJ Briggle, acting chairwoman of the party’s resolution committee, reasoned. “We’re asking them to choose a party.”
Actually, I think they already have chosen. Fully of third of Arizona’s voters have chosen not to align themselves with either party. Many of them are moderates who don’t believe either party represents their interests anymore.\
Currently, they can choose to vote in either the regular Republican or Democratic primaries, but they – the voters both parties need to win -- are shut out when it comes to selecting Arizona’s presidential nominees.
33 states have opened their primaries
Meanwhile, 33 other states have opened their presidential primaries to independents.
It was a long shot that independents would have been able to vote in the Arizona Democrats’ March 17 primary anyway, as it would have required the party to sue Secretary of State Katie Hobbs or get legislative approval for the change.
Legal action would be pricey and legislative action would be miraculous. (Just ask Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, who's been proposing it every year since the 2016 debacle, when independents waited in line for hours to register their choice for presidential nominees, only to be turned away.)
Still, symbolism matters and it would have been a big win for the self-proclaimed party of inclusion to actually be, you know, inclusive.
Especially, given that the Arizona Republican Party is denying even Republicans the right to vote for its presidential nominee next year. (As Democrats, by the way, have previously done when they had the White House.)
Democrats act like they don't want to win
Extending a hand to independents might have boosted the party's relationship with independents, helping Democratic legislative candidates who will be running later in the year in those crucial swing districts.
It certainly would have helped the party select a more moderate Democratic presidential nominee – someone who actually has a chance of knocking off President Donald Trump.
But state Democratic Party Chairwoman Felecia Rotellini warned party leaders that suing the state to open the primary could cost up to $115,000.
“The issue here is, (is) there is a proper way other than having the Arizona Democratic Party, who you will hear is way under budget, suing the state and using money we could be using elsewhere,” she said.
Yeah, you could be using it for an inaugural ball. But the way things are going …
Reach Roberts at [email protected].
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