In my opinion, Yolanda Bejarano is the better choice to lead ADP. Please allow me to lay out my reasoning for your scrutiny. Perhaps you will agree with me.

Endorsements

When I first heard that there would be a contested election for ADP Chair, my first instinct (perhaps like many of you..) was to ask, “Who does the Governor want?” It has traditionally been one of the prerogatives of the Governorship to choose the Party Chair whom they want to work with. When I learned that Governor Hobbs’ choice is Supervisor Gallardo, that initially closed the book on my decision. Gallardo was the obvious choice.

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But then, I learned about the extraordinary collection of top Democratic officeholders that had decided that Yoli was the right person for the job and I had to re-think my initial reaction.

Mark Kelly and Gabby. Attorney General Mayes. Secretary of State Fontes. US House Members Gallego (possibly Senator Gallego after ’24), Stanton, and Grijalva. Former US House Members O’Halleran and Kirkpatrick. Future US House Members Jevin Hodge and Kirsten Engel. AZ State Representatives and Senators. City and County leaders and officials. Current and former Democratic Party officials. Young Democrats. All of these good Democrats pulling in a different direction than Governor Hobbs.

As much as my initial inclination was to give Governor Hobbs her choice of Chair, the breadth and depth of Yoli’s endorsers gave me pause and forced me to look at all the additional factors I discuss here. It runs against my instinct and the appeal of tradition to not defer to the Governor in this choice, but I also have great respect for the judgment of these others.

To me, this split in support argues that endorsements alone should not be determinative of this decision.

Experience for the Job

Both Gallardo and Bejarano have excellent relevant experience to do the job. One can plausibly make the case for either of them based on experience and expertise. Both have labor experience and backgrounds in organizing. Gallardo has experience as a candidate and elected official, but Bejarano does not. But Bejarano balances that lack with experience running and organizing for campaigns around Arizona and across the nation and at the highest levels.

My personal preferences and biases come into play here that doesn’t necessarily mean as much to others as they do to me. I like that Yoli is a grassroots labor organizer professionally. She has the experience and tools to help ADP build organizational capacity and great public involvement. The key difference between the experiences of Steve and Yoli, in my view, is summed up in organizing vs mobilizing. Elected officials tend to focus on what their campaigns can do to mobilize voters to polls at election time. Union folks and grassroots organizers tend to focus on organizing people to achieve a variety of social and political goals over a longer time horizon.

Personally, I want to see a Party Chair who has a focus on community organizing for the long term, not only on mobilization for the next election. I prefer a Party Chair to focus more on the longer-term power building of a community organizer versus the short-term and shallow mobilization that a focus solely on electoral politics tends to promote. But I conclude that both aspects are important and that both candidates will competently and effectively do the job.

I don’t think this factor is decisive for either candidate for most electors, but for me, Yoli has the advantage based on my own priorities and preferences.

Fundraising

We deplore it, and we should work to change it, but the ground truth of American politics at this moment is this: money is the lifeblood of politics. Money equals the capacity to organize, to message, to mobilize, and win races. One of the core duties (and thus a core competency to look for in a party leader) is the ability to raise lots of money.

In this regard, I judge Bejarano the superior candidate for two excellent reasons: Senator Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords.

Mark and Gabby have heartily endorsed Yoli, and Mark has pledged to spend the time and effort to turn his considerable institutional fundraising network to raising money for ADP if Yoli wins. Since Kelly is not up for re-elect until ’28, that means that Kelly will have plenty of spare capacity to turn his attention to generating money for the ADP. That fundraising power can be directed to party-building efforts and to prepping for other down-ballot and further statewide seats we want to target in ’24 and beyond.

Supervisor Gallardo simply hasn’t nearly the fundraising network capacity to match the Kelly advantage. He and his most important supporter, Governor Hobbs, have pledged to attend the major annual fundraiser of every County Party to aid in fundraising. While that is an excellent pledge (and one that Bejarano and Kelly should match or exceed), it’s simply not in the same league as Kelly’s powerhouse national fundraising network being used in service to our state party.

Advantage, Yoli.

Commitment to the Job

Supervisor Gallardo has indicated that he will continue in his official duties as a Maricopa County Supervisor and also take on the duties of the Chairmanship in addition. That means he will be a part-time Chair. There are only so many hours in a day and nobody is making any more. Does anyone seriously argue that a Chair dividing his time would be better than a Chair fully focused on ADP?

Being Chair will be Yoli’s sole focus and receive all of her time and attention. I want a full-time Chair, and Arizona deserves no less. We have great opportunities and great stakes as one of the key swing states in America in the 2024 cycle: we must have a full-time, full-attention Chair to take full advantage of the opportunities and avoid the worst possible outcomes.

It is also widely known that Steve Gallardo has frequently and openly spoken of his intent and desire to run for Congress in Ruben Gallego’s district if Ruben moves up the Senate. Steve is now saying he has no such ambition. Sorry, but I simply don’t believe that. There is undeniably a risk that Gallardo could resign or divert more of his attention to pursuing his ambition (which I fully support, BTW) to go to Congress. Yoli has no such higher ambition at this time than to serve ADP as Chair.

Advantage, Yoli.

Demographics

Let’s be blunt: the choice of Chair reflects a Party’s values and the demographics they want to appeal to. Both candidates have Hispanic heritage. Here in Arizona, expanding our appeal and relevance to this fast growing demographic is vital for the party’s future. The ethnicity of both candidates would be an asset to the Party and to the communities we seek to represent and help to ensure that Latinos are afforded the influence and power in America their numbers warrant.

I think that to most Democratic electors of ADP this factor would not be decisive for either candidate. However, to me personally, the fact that Yoli is also a woman gives her an advantage in my own evaluation.

You see, when I first became really active in politics it was 1992. For those with a longer than average political memory, that was widely called ‘The Year of the Woman’. It was that year women candidates finally attained sufficient numbers that one could reasonably foresee women approaching parity in elected offices in the not-too-distant future. We were then still a very long way – and still are far short – from that goal, but that was the first glimmer that women might finally achieve the degree of representation they deserve in elected offices.

I believe we have to make it a priority as a Party to achieve that goal of proportionate representation in elected positions. I think that parity is necessary to achieve formal recognition of equal rights for women in our Constitution. Some might think it is slightly regressive to prioritize the sex of a candidate, but Dobbs proved decisively that the rights of our female citizens are still negotiable to far too many people in our nation.

In addition, I simply believe due to my own experience that women are – on average – just better leaders than men. I believe that the more the Democratic Party leans into promoting and supporting female candidates for elected office, the better we will do at the polls. It is simply my own experience and judgment that women candidates are, on average, more practical, more relatable, more sensible, more empathetic, better communicators and listeners, less ideological, and less ego-driven than male candidates. I have a clear bias, and I own that.

Add to my own bias for female leaders the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Democratic Party has been making steady progress over the past decade in electoral politics here in Arizona and that during most of that time, our Party has been led by strong women: Alexis Tameron Kinsey (2015–2017), Felicia Rotellini (2018–2021), and Raquel Terán (2021- Present), have done a wonderful job, I see no reason to break that laudable streak.

For me personally, Yoli has the advantage demographically.

Conclusion

Yoli and Steve are both great candidates and neither their endorsements nor their experience and qualifications for the job appear to me to be a decisive factor in deciding between them. For most electors, I think that demographics are also a wash, though to me, personally, Yoli is superior in this regard. I think I have made a solid case that Yoli is the superior candidate when evaluated for fundraising potential and commitment to the job. I believe that those two aspects argue for a clear advantage to Yoli, and thus I will be proudly casting my vote for her on Jan. 28th.

I hope you will also decide to give your vote to Yoli.

 

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