This Friday, 1/18, at 10 a.m., the Pima County Board of Supervisors will meet to select the new State Representative for LD 26 to replace Lena Saradnik, who recently resigned for health reasons. By Monday a new Representative will be driving up to Phoenix to join the budget battle.
The elected LD 26 PCs tonight selected the slate of three nominees from which the Board will select that new Representative. The PCs preference, and that of Lena Saradnik, couldn't have been any more clear: they want Don Jorgenson as their new Representative.
Don won his nomination on the first round with 62 votes, a total which would have required a good number of single-shot ballots to achieve. Lena herself made Don's nomination and made it unambiguously clear that he is her choice to fill the position, though she also endorsed Cheryl Cage and Nancy Wright to be on the slate of three candidates. Jeff Latas seconded Don's nomination.
Lena was quite firm that as a life-long feminist, she did not want gender to be dispositive in who is selected to replace her, but rather she wants the person best able to do the work, win re-election and help capture more seats in LD 26 for Democrats. She thinks that person in Don, and the PCs of LD 26 seem to strongly agree with her. She did insist that if Don were selected, his running mate must be a strong woman candidate, which obviously means either Cheryl or Nancy.
Nancy Young Wright was also selected on the first ballot with 49 votes. Nancy probably has the most track-record and history with the current Board of Supervisors. She knows them, has dealt with them and worked with them in the past, whereas the other candidates are largely unknown to the Board, which could either be an advantage or a disadvantage for Nancy when the Supervisors vote. Having met Nancy, I would guess it to be an advantage, but knowing that she is a citizen-politician with little tolerance for political corruption and peculation, I suspect she may also have stepped on more than one set of toes in the past.
Cheryl Cage was nearly elected on the first ballot with 36 votes, but it was not quite enough for the absolute majority needed. The other nominees received relatively few votes; Rolande Diane Baker got 6 votes, Tom Cuevas (who used part of his 5 minute address to endorse Don) got 10 votes, and Fred Koch got 1 vote (which was not himself, as he did not have a vote) and was eliminated for the second round. Cheryl garnered 47 votes in the second round to capture the third nomination.
Now the choice is in the hands of the Pima County Supervisors. There are no legal guidelines as to how they make their selection. They can vote for any of these three candidates for whatever reason might strike them. I think a significant factor will surely be Lena Saradnik's lobbying on behalf of Don Jorgenson. If she can sway all three Democrats to vote as she asks, then Don is certain to be selected.
But both Sharon Bronson and Chairman Elias are thought by some to be concerned about the gender of the selectee. Most elected PCs in LD 26 and Lena herself don't seem to be as concerned about replacing a woman with a woman, but the fact remains that there are some in the Democratic Party who might be apt to criticize a decision to do otherwise. Will that potential criticism affect the vote of any members of the Board?
If the Democrats are unable to remain unified on a selectee, possibly due to differences on the issue of gender, that could open the door to the decisive votes being cast by Republicans Ray Carroll or Ann Day.
I expect a lot of lobbying of the Board members by the PCs of LD 26 over the next few days. What they will hear overwhelmingly is that Don Jorgenson is the first choice of the Democratic Party in LD 26. They aren't obligated to listen, however, and so it remains unclear who will be driving up I-10 on Monday.