Guest Editorial: Circular Firing Squads

By Alexander Lomax

Who says that off-years are a boring time in politics?

The Department of Justice recently announced that they would be taking a deeper look into the Phoenix Police Department, and more specifically would be taking a look at their treatment of minorities, protestors, and the homeless. Congressman Ruben Gallego sent out a rather benign press release of generalized support, without taking a strong stance in any direction. The sort of press release that very rarely makes waves.

Very rarely, but not never.

Ne’Lexia Galloway, Congressman Gallego’s former Black Outreach Coordinator and new Executive Director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, sent out this tweet, implying a huge bombshell if he didn’t take down his innocuous press release. This caused folks across AZ Political Twitter to grab their popcorn in anticipation.

What followed was this public statement, which seemed to amount to little more than the fact that she made suggestions which he either disregarded or couldn’t fulfill, possibly because of complications that were above her pay grade and which she didn’t know about. A situation which nearly everyone has experienced in their professional life, but most know not to put someone on blast about it.

Anyone who knows party politics knows that when you work with the party, Reagan’s 11th Commandment typically comes into play; thou shalt not speak ill of an elected official within that party. Sources within the party tell me that this may have resembled something akin to Gavrilo Princip shooting Archduke Ferdinand back in 1914; a shot that ignited something much larger. In this case it seems to have ignited a grudge match between the African-American and Hispanic caucuses of the local Democratic Party. Sources say that those tensions lied just beneath the surface for a while, and this was a sufficient spark.

One thing is certain: state and county party events will have some serious awkwardness in the near future, and party board members and staffers are certainly having some rather tense conversations. And how does the Gallego campaign (as well as that of his ex-wife, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego) look at the county party now? Will they attempt to enact retribution?

I suppose that if there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Democrats, it is that this is being fleshed out in an off-year, and presumably will be mostly resolved by the time 2022 comes around. Democrats should hope so, because between this and Senator Navarrete’s arrest, they can’t afford such distractions when they attempt to win in 2022.