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6th March
written by Sean Noble

It is amazing how quickly fortunes change.  Going into the 2008 elections, the Arizona Democratic Party appeared to be on top of the world.  They had outraised the Arizona Republican Party by huge numbers, they were pumping big dollars into state legislative races, raising bucket-loads of money for their Congressional candidates, and seemingly kicking Republicans in the teeth at every turn.

Then came Election Day and the world changed.  They not only did they not capture legislative seats that they thought they would, they lost seats in both the State House and the State Senate.  The Marriage Amendment won by double-digits after running a huge early ballot and get-out-the-vote effort that clearly helped Republican candidates.   John Shadegg, the number one target of both state Democrats and national Democrats won by a whopping 12 points after being outspent more than 2-1.  Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe won landslide victories. 

Janet Napolitano took the first plane to D.C. to get away from it all.

With Napolitano gone (and her bare knuckles fundraising machine) and losses in everything they targeted, grassroots Democrats started getting really, really angry, and they took out their anger on State Democratic Chairman Don Bivens, showing him the door and electing a no-name outsider.

Then, to make matters worse, the new Chairman resigned within a week, leaving the party with no one to lead.

All this leads us to Saturday, when Democrats will reassemble and see if they can put the pieces together again.  How bad is it?  Here are some excerpts from a front page story in the Arizona Republic:

Arizona Democrats gather today in downtown Phoenix a party in disarray.

The November general election was a disappointment for local Democrats, who not only failed to claim control of either the Arizona House or Senate – as they had publicly boasted for months – but also lost legislative seats.

If you’re an Arizona Democrat, “you’re probably taking a lot of Advil right now,” quipped Bob Grossfeld, a left-leaning Scottsdale pollster and strategist. “It’s like, ‘Well, look at the mess we’ve got here.’ ”

“It’s obvious that in this state it’s gone totally in a different direction than where the rest of the country has gone,” said Randy Camacho, a Goodyear teacher and member of the Democratic State Committee.

“The main impact is that the gobs of money she [Napolitano] generated will dry up,” Grossfeld said. “A sitting governor is a very valuable commodity in politics. There’s really no way to replace that.”

Whether Bivens regains the Chairmanship, or it goes to someone new will not make much difference in solving the problems Democrats will face for the 2010 election cycle.  The luster of Obama will fade, and as the economy continues to falter, with no major fundraising force, the Democratic Party faces a major uphill climb for the next two years. 

I’d wish them luck, but that would be downright silly.

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  1. NotSoNoble


    Sorry to rain on your parade, but you and the Shadegg team were not outspent 2-1. You outspent Lord by approx 2.8-1.8 million.

    The DCCC did do some IEs, but that only gave Lord a moderate cash advantage of maybe 3.8-2.8.

    However, that does not take into account all the money Pima Cty GOP put in for you.

    Saying you were outspent 2-1 does damage to history.

  2. NotSoNoble

    You said: “loses (sic) in everything they targeted.”

    You must be joking.

    The Democrats targeted two big defenses in Mitchell and Giffords – and won big, even after the Club for Growth and national & state republicans poured money into Bee and Schweikert.

    And the Dems targeted a pickup in Kirkpatrick – and won big.

  3. Sean Noble

    Not exactly raining, maybe sprinkling. Shadegg raised 2.7, Lord raised 1.8, DCCC spent $2.9 on TV, mail, grassroots, Pima county did $20K for Shadegg. So you’re right, 2.72 to 4.7 isn’t quite 2-1, but it still shows Shadegg was significantly outspent.

  4. Sean Noble

    Mitchell and Giffords were holds – can’t target a hold. Yes, Kirkpatrick won big – that was a national target. The point of the post is the Arizona State Dem Party. And thanks for catching my grammar problem.

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