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The Daily Agenda: It was a different era
He's all labeled up, thanks ... They're Zoned out ... And no rush, Caitlin.
Andrei Cherny, the former Democratic Party chairman now running in the crowded Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, does not like the party he helped build.
Not the Democratic Party — he still likes that.
But in 2010, Cherny was among a group of centrist politicians who formed No Labels, which this year got recognized as an actual political party in Arizona. The party’s financial backers are cloaked in secrecy and at this point, it’s unclear if the whole thing is simply a subversive ploy to get Donald Trump elected again.
What is clear is that if they move forward with their plan to put a third-party presidential candidate on the ballot, electing Trump would almost certainly be the outcome, Cherny says now.
“Running a third party candidate is one of the surest ways of giving the White House back to Donald Trump, which I see as an existential threat to American democracy and freedom,” he told us.
Back when he got involved, No Labels wasn’t a party and it didn’t have any plans to become one. Cherny was chair of the Democratic Party around the same time (a position he later resigned from to run for Congress against Kyrsten Sinema.)
And to be fair, if you told someone in 2010 that a centrist party presidential candidate would represent one of the best hopes of a second nonconcurrent Trump presidency in 2024, can you imagine the reaction?
“The guy from Home Alone 2?” Cherny responded when we posed the question.
For those of you who don’t remember, Cherny was one of Arizona’s rising Democratic stars back in the day. He took on Doug Ducey for state treasurer in 2010, ran the state Democratic Party the next year and went head-to-head with Sinema when she ran her first campaign for Congress in 2012.
He graduated from Harvard and became the youngest White House speech writer ever after Bill Clinton took a shine to his college writing, then graduated from Berkley Law and worked as an assistant AG under Terry Goddard. He worked for John Kerry, has written a few books, served in the Navy reserve after 9/11, founded a progressive journal and now runs a successful financial institution based on progressive values. He was once called “Clinton’s truest heir,” back when that would still have been considered very flattering, not to mention a “wunderkind,” and our personal favorite, “the fictional fourth child in The Royal Tenenbaums, the one with a yen not for finance, playwriting, or tennis but politics.”
It’s a heck of a bio that would probably play well against Schweikert in the competitive district covering central Phoenix, Scottsdale and Cave Creek. But a centrist white guy from Harvard with a background in law enforcement is not exactly the kind of thing that excites the Democratic base in a crowded primary like it might have a decade ago.
Cherny, for obvious reasons, doesn’t highlight his involvement with No Labels on the primary campaign trail. Calling him a co-founder of the movement — as people did at the time — is a bit much, he says, since all he did was attend one big meeting in D.C. and write an op-ed.
“I think they probably listed everybody who showed up there as a co-founder … that was the extent of my involvement,” he said.
Instead, Cherny is highlighting his past electoral battle with Sinema, attempting to tap into the progressive rage directed at the independent senator with more than a hint of “I told you so.”
In a recent profile in the New Republic — headlined “Meet the Democrat who tried to warn us about Kyrsten Sinema” — he was “eager to slam Sinema” during the interview. He hit the trifecta of progressive talking points, calling her “Republicans’ favorite Democratic legislator,” “cozy with the Republican lobbyists,” and “an obstructionist.”
“Our campaign’s failing in 2012 is that we weren’t able to convince enough people of who she was, and too many people thought, ‘As long as a Democrat wins, we’re going to be OK,’” he told the New Republic. “But the truth is [that] there really is a difference.”
But former Democratic lawmaker Pamela Powers Hannley has a hard time seeing the difference. She has been a progressive activist, writer and blogger for decades, and she recently migrated her old archives from various blogs to her new digital home on Substack, including several old Cherny / No Labels posts.
It’s safe to say Powers Hannley is not, and never has been, a big fan of Cherny’s. She puts him in the same boat as Sinema and other members of the “old guard” “corporate Democrat” club, which isn’t much better than the corporate Republican club. No Labels, she said, was just an attempt to “get all the chamber of commerce types together” and Cherny was at the center of it.
She still she remembers his run for the Democratic Party chair in 2011, just after the No Labels announcement. She sat near Sinema at the meeting and filmed the event for her blog, and Sinema was “definitely cheering him on,” she said.
“There were a lot of complaints amongst bloggers like me about there’s too much ‘Republican light’ in the Democratic Party … And Cherny was definitely seen as Republican light, and he was really pushing this No Labels thing. It was surprising to me that other people were not even mentioning that he was like one of the national co-founders of No Labels. He wasn't just some dude in Phoenix who thought it was a good idea, you know?”
CORRECTION: Tuesday’s edition stated that Cochise County Recorder David Stevens had been in touch with a former recorder about the county’s elections director job. Stevens clarified that it’s a former employee in a recorders’ office, not a recorder.
Being (voluntarily) homeless is illegal: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered Phoenix to clean up the Zone, again, this time with a permanent injunction and harshly worded ruling against the city. Business owners in the area filed suit, and the city started clearing out the population living there in May. The city has leaned on a Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruling essentially stating that a city cannot ban public camping if there is nowhere else to go. But the judge said that only applies to people who actually want shelter, and many in the Zone are “voluntarily homeless.” Plus, the city has refused to enforce all sorts of laws beyond public campaign, including laws against drugs, prostitution and public indecency.
“(I)f an individual refuses a shelter bed because he does not want to part with his pet, that individual is not involuntarily homeless. … And if an individual refuses to go into a shelter because he wants to live together with his partner, that individual is not involuntarily homeless,” the judge wrote.
It’s illegal but it shouldn’t be: Attorney General Kris Mayes issued an opinion yesterday saying Phoenix’s decision to donate about 500 unclaimed guns to Ukraine was illegal under state law, siding with Republican lawmakers who asked her to look into it. She said Phoenix could have sold the guns, but cannot donate them. But Mayes clearly wasn’t happy with the underlying law.
"While my office has determined that Phoenix's ordinance conflicts with state laws concerning firearm disposal, I am deeply troubled by these statutes," she wrote in a separate statement. "These laws are inflexible and frankly offensive to the victims of crime and communities affected by gun violence.”
Remember Jeff Flake?: Well, he’s an ambassador to Turkey now, and after almost two years on the job, he’s still not exactly friends with Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Republic’s Ron Hansen writes after landing an interview.
Sure, now you charge him: Ray Epps, the Arizona man and Donald Trump supporter who stormed the Capitol on January 6 and ended up at the center of a MAGA conspiracy that he was a government agent, was charged with one count of disorderly conduct, the New York Times reported. Kari Lake, former AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward and other prominent Arizona Republicans continued to retweet conspiracies about Epps anyway.
Shutdown incoming: Elsewhere in the Times, our very own Republican U.S. Rep. Eli Crane’s tweet was featured in a piece about Republican opposition to the Republican plan to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Only in Arizona: KTAR’s Mike Broomhead hosted Steve and Linda Hooper, two married former Arizona FBI agents, for an ongoing “Amazing Arizonans” series. Both had some pretty wild stories, but Steve worked on the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.
“When we interviewed the woman (who first tackled the shooter), we said ‘Why would you jump on this guy?’ And she goes, ‘Well, he dropped his magazine so I knew he was unloaded.’ And I said ‘Only in Arizona.’ That knowledge of guns and how guns work — who knows how many lives she saved by jumping on this guy,” Steve said.
Only in Gilbert: After facing a flurry of ethics complaints this summer that have so far amounted to no findings of wrongdoing from investigators tasked with running them down, the Gilbert Town Council changed its process for dealing with ethics complaints, starting with a mediation session, the Republic’s Maritza Dominguez writes.
We were going to make fun of the “sloth cam” at Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo today, which we found embedded on a local news website. Because, really, who wants to watch a sloth do nothing?
But instead we’re making fun of our Tucson Agenda colleague, Caitlin, who admitted to occasionally watching the sloth cam.
In case you want to do nothing at work for a few hours and look at something that’s doing less than you, check out the sloth!