Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm thankful for great candidates who dared to be vulnerable.

I'm thankful for a number of people who dared to be vulnerable, at least partly on my behalf.


  • Fred DuVal who was far and away the best candidate for Arizona governor this year
  • Terry Goddard, who took a bold stand against Voter Suppression and against Dark Money
  • Felecia Rotellini, who in interviews challenging her campaigns ads which attacked Brnovich's brazen self-dealings, owned those ads and stood her ground
  • David Garcia, who faced down racism and the groundswell of opposition to Common Core
  • Sandra Kennedy, after having been defeated for reelection to the Corporation Commission in 2012 went right ahead and put herself out there to run for the same office again in 2014
  • Jim Holway, a highly qualified, but still Democratic, candidate for Corporation Commission
  • Paula Pennypacker, a former long-time Republican who changed parties because the AZ GOP shunned her, dared to take on the House Appropriations chairman in a lopsided Republican district
  • Patty Kennedy, a Glendale school board member, challenged a Republican known for retribution
  • Terri Woodmansee, another Democratic candidate who challenged Senate Appropriations chairman Don Shooter
  • Kelli Butler, another Democratic candidate who faced long odds challenging incumbent Sen. Adam Driggs
  • Janie Hydrick, another Democratic candidate who challenged one of the biggest lobbyist whores in the Arizona Legislature, Jeff Dial
  • Kristie O'Brien, who challenged the Dominionist author of SB1062, Senate Finance chairman Steven Yarbrough.
  • Jo Holt, who challenged Steve "Build the wall" Smith
  • Amy Rose Schwabenlender, David Butler, Sheila Ogea, Frank Cuccia, Demion Clinco, Joe Longoria, Beth Weisser, Lanny Morrison, Carmen Casillas, Holly Lyon, Scott Glover, DJ Rothans, Steve Hansen, James C Burton, Scott and Cara Prior, Danielle Lee, Mitzi Epstein, Carolyn Vasko, Esther Lumm, Arky Muscato, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson, Larry Woods, Steven Zachary and Aaron Marquez -- Democratic candidates for seats in the Arizona Legislature
  • Mike Weisser, James Woods, and W. John Williamson -- all long-shot Democratic candidates for Congress
  • The many Democrats who ran for city and town councils, school boards and seats on boards of special districts.
These people, and of course also those Democrats who won their races, dared greatly. They all live to fight another day, but their willingness to take the big risk of running for office was for them and for me a very BIG DEAL.

I know a little bit about what it is like in their shoes, having run unsuccessfully for a school board seat in 1998. That's why I relate to Brené Brown's message in the TED talk video embedded below.

She defines vulnerability,

Vulnerability is not weakness and that myth is profoundly dangerous... I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty, it fuels our daily lives. And I've come to the believe -- this is my 12th year doing this research, that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest ... vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  
To create is to make something that has never existed before. There's nothing more vulnerable than that. Adaptability to change is all about vulnerability. 
The second thing, in addition to really finally understanding the relationship between vulnerability and courage, the second thing I learned is this. We have to talk about shame.   

Additional quotes from this TED talk:
When we reach out and be vulnerable, we get the shit beat out of us.
You show me a woman who can actually sit with a man in real vulnerability and fear, I'll show you a woman who has done incredible work.
You show me a man who can sit with a woman who has just had it, she can't do it all anymore, and his first response is not, "I unloaded the dishwasher" but he really listens, 'cause that's all we need, I'll show you a guy who has done a lot of work.
Shame is an epidemic in our culture. And to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other, we have to understand how it affects us and how it affects the way we're parenting, the way we're working, the way we look at each other.
If we're going to find our way back to each other, we have to understand and know empathy because empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words, when we're in struggle, are "me too."  
If we're going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. I know it's seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, "I'm going to go in there and kick some ass when I'm bulletproof and when I'm perfect." And that is seductive. But the truth is, that never happens.
Even if you got as perfect as you could, and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster, when you got in there, that's not what we want to see. We want you to go in, we want to be with you and across from you, and we just want for ourselves and for the people we care about, and the people we work with, to dare greatly.
Please take the twenty minutes to view Brown's TED talk. She shares stories that bring her points and her quotes to life.


One thing that, in my view, is NOT vulnerability: Diane Douglas, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect refusing to talk to reporters or to citizens who may not agree with her.

Republic columnist EJ Montini writes about her in a column posted this afternoon.


So, why is this important to me and why do I think it's important to Arizona Democrats right now?

First, I think of the courage it took for the people listed at the top of this blog post to run for office. Like I said, I ran in 1998 for a seat on the KGB (Kyrene Governing Board). In a three candidate race for two seats, I received about 10,500 votes. But I still lost by more than 1,000 votes. I also experienced embarrassment, guilt and shame during that campaign. The week immediately prior to the November 1998 election, a story about my divorce ran in the Ahwatukee Foothills News. That hit piece likely was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was personally devastated, mainly by and about the hit in the community paper.

Second, I believe our (Democratic) statewide candidates were excellent candidates. I would not have chosen anyone different than them for this year's slate. They ALL, each and every one of the obviously imperfect candidates, deserve our deepest and most sincere gratitude for putting themselves in the arena.

I do NOT believe, contrary to the Capitol Times' quote from Chad Campbell, that the Arizona Democratic Party is dead. To the contrary, WE showed tremendous courage and had some results that bucked nationwide trends. A dead political party doesn't make that happen.

Nevertheless, the candidates LEARNED. The volunteers and campaign advisers learned. And if we demonstrate wisdom and resilience over the next two months, we will choose Party leadership that will capitalize on the learning from this election. We all need to share those lessons, stick together and make adjustments. As we do so, we will demonstrate superior resilience.

Pundits across the land believe that 2016 will turn out much differently. But that won't happen if we allow ourselves to accept that we're a dead party doomed to defeat.

2016 (and 2018) will turn out differently in Arizona because we care and we've got a message that does and will resonate with Arizonans. The obstacles in front of us are not insurmountable. We will stand together.

I'm thankful for you, Arizona Democrats. We ARE resilient.

h/t and thanks to my Republican friend, Barbara Espinosa for this image. Barbara also dared to be vulnerable, bucking her party and facing down threats from them for supporting Fred DuVal and Paula Pennypacker. I'm very thankful for new Republican friends I've made this election season also and the common ground we have.


  1. Thanks for this article. I'm also thankful for the many Democrats that I met in this past election, individually we have more in common than our respective political parties lead us to believe.All Democrats are not devils and all Republicans are not angels. When we look past the letter next to the person name and vote for the candidate that has the best qualification to lead our city or state, we will have a much better government.

  2. Arizona EagletarianNovember 28, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    And not all Republicans are devils, either. :)