Such is the dilemma Democratic voters in Arizona's new Ninth Congressional District have this summer with former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny.
Right off the bat, having been a co-founder of the public policy journal Democracy, worked as a speechwriter in the Clinton administration, as a prosecutor under former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, authored books and been described by CNN as a "progressive reformer" one cannot help but be impressed.
But what Andrei Cherny tells you about himself on his campaign website is ONLY the good stuff.
Have you ever been asked, in a job interview, what your weaknesses are? How did you answer that question? You do have weaknesses, don't you? I know I do. But I never really figured out how to best answer that question.
Have you ever taken a three day road trip with someone you only knew superficially prior to the trip? You get to know a whole lot about the person (and perhaps yourself) over the course of spending so many hours together without a break in the action.
I've seen Kyrsten Sinema and David Schapira in action, in the heat of the battle known as political wrangling, aka legislating, aka lawmaking, aka getting to the real nitty-gritty of establishing public policy. And I know that neither of the two of them are perfect. But having seen them in legislative action, I am more confident that I know what I would be getting if I were to commit my vote for either of them.
But I have not been on a road trip with Andrei. And I have not seen him actually engaged in the real action of making public policy. But I have seen him in campaign situations and facing voters who want him to deal with hard questions. His approach has not engendered confidence.
Last evening, I learned that four video clips featuring Mr. Cherny -- apparently speaking to Tea Party activists during his 2010 campaign for State Treasurer -- had been posted to YouTube a few days earlier. Those clips show him making what, to any flavor of Democratic voter, would be disturbing statements, explanations of positions and answers to questions. To be fair to him, I wanted to ask him for his side of the story prior to posting the videos in this blog.
Within minutes of me sending him a text message asking him to call me to discuss the situation, Cherny had posted (to his facebook page) what can only be construed as an attempt to preempt the damage his 2010 statements will cause to his chances for being elected.
With the Supreme Court potentially about to rule on health care reform, I'll say it again: we need to defend the Affordable Care Act and build on it to include a public option and end the unconscionable giveaways for drug companies. And Congress needs to look into the ethics of Clarence Thomas whose household has received $1.5 million from health care reform opponents -- which might even include impeachment. Looking out for checks and balances is Congress' job!Cherny did not call me, did not text me and did not send me any notes on facebook or by email. But clearly, he got my message. Of course, I am disappointed he is not confident enough to talk with me directly to answer my questions. But I'm not surprised. By the way, other people posted the You Tube clips in question to his facebook page and asked him to respond to them. At least some of those questions, he simply deleted.
Instead of responding directly to my query, he tried to deflect by asking people to look at something HE wanted people to believe about his position. The shiny object* defense, to me, reflects a tacit acknowledgment on his part that he doesn't know how to deal with complex issues among people that hold different views and values. The result is that he projects weakness that anyone looking closely can recognize.
So, what is in the video clips that he now is afraid to address head on?
Key quotes from this clip include:
Really quickly I’m proud of what all of you have been doing. What you have done has really put the issue of our country’s financial future up on the front burner for the country and that is a very important public service to all of the people of our country and our state.and
where I sometimes vote for a Democrat and sometimes for a Republican. And I am a fiscal conservative and I am a fiscal conservative before I am a Democrat or a Republican.
I do not know who posted the clips. Cherny could have provided context to help offset some of the concern this raises for Democratic voters, if he had only responded to my request to call. I can say that I recognize one person in the audience, Tea Party activist the Angry RightWing Housewife.
In the next clip, Cherny was asked, "Andrei, do you oppose Obamacare, or do you support it." (At the 9:20 mark into the clip below) He took the microphone and gave a one-word answer, "oppose."
Ducey's response, with conviction and more than one word, "In fact, we oppose Obamacare."
Of course, Doug Ducey makes some fantastic claims as to what he will do to "call out bad ideas" about state spending on out-of-state contractors. Calling them out is apparently all the State Treasurer can do about it. Since he cannot refuse to pay bills lawfully entered into by state agencies. Ducey also promises to conduct quarterly open houses and post teacher salaries online. By the way, because Ducey acknowledges the camera and asks to be held accountable, there's no way Cherny could claim he did not know he was being recorded.
If Ducey has fulfilled those promises, nobody has reported on it. But that's not what this blog post is about, so I digress.
One now must wonder that if people who voted in the January 2011 election for chair of the Arizona Democratic Party had seen these clips, whether they would have chosen Cherny to lead them then.
And one must now also wonder whether the people who have given wholehearted endorsement to Cherny's candidacy for Congress this year realize who their candidate really is.
* It even has a name: SOS - Shiny Object Syndrome. It's not quite ADD/ADHD. It's more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.