Democratic Perspective had an opportunity to visit with Andrei Cherny, former Arizona assistant attorney general, White House aide, business consultant and current Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.
We began by asking him about the political environment in Arizona. He responded by saying, “My goal is to push politics in a better direction. Arizona is crying out for leadership. We have so many problems – the budget, turning around our schools and making our streets safer.” But Cherny says the Democratic Party has been unable to focus attention on those problems. “Democrats have a great group of people in the legislature, but they’re a super minority so they can’t have much of an impact,” he said.
“We need to push politics to the mainstream and away from extremes,” Cherny continued. “People are sick and tired of partisan politics.” He pointed to the growing number of independents in the state. “Republicans currently have a registration advantage, but voter registration is virtually one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third Independent. Soon the number of independents will be bigger than either Republicans or Democrats. In the long run that will be good for state politics.”
In speaking about the current redistricting effort that will redraw the lines for legistlative districts and give Arizona another Congressional Representative, Cherny called it “The most important development in 20 years. Right now, only 3 of the 30 legislative districts are competitive. That has pushed politics to extremes because the candidates didn’t have to compete. The goal of the Independent Redistricting Commission is to seek 8, 9 or 10 competitive districts. Republicans see that as a threat. They want to continue their extreme stances. In fact, Speaker of the House, Andy Tobin has threatened to remove the independent Chair of the Commission. But fortunately, Arizona is one of only 13 states that have taken gerrymandering power away from the legislature. “
“Why aren’t we talking about jobs?” he asked. “The answer is extreme politics. When the 2012 session starts, we’ll have had five years of the worst economy Arizona has seen and the legislature has done nothing about it.”