Students of history (or older readers) will remember the Saturday Night Massacre: it was the last gasp of the Nixon administration and its attempt to cover up the Watergate scandal. In it, Nixon ordered his Justice Department officials to fire the Special Prosecutor in charge of Watergate, which led to a string of resignations as a result.
The Maricopa County Democratic Party seems to have had its own version of the Saturday Night Massacre in what seems to be embattled Executive Director Ne’Lexia Galloway’s attempt to protect her own job in the midst of underperformance, internal dissatisfaction, and a potential financial scandal. As a reminder, Galloway is engaged to be married to Bruce Franks Jr., the disgraced former Missouri State Rep/battle rapper/campaign grifter who played a significant role in tanking Julie Gunnigle’s campaign for County Attorney (get up to date on him here).
In a bombshell recent action, we’ve learned that Galloway personally fired every member of the staff except for one older, part-time employee nearing retirement (i.e. someone not deemed a threat). Their last day was at the end of February. The positions that were eliminated were organizing director (the person in charge of reaching out to potential voters), political director, and campaign director. While short term jobs are not renewed immediately after an election, to have such critical roles eliminated in a battleground county with all countywide seats up for election next year is unprecedented.
Some might say that money is a significant issue, and they are indeed light on cash, with only $16K available at the end of February. However, insiders say that part of this cash crunch is a result of gross mismanagement of funds, including a large allocation of cash sent out for what was supposed to be for mailers; but those mailers never went out. Insiders say that Galloway pushed for this vendor because the pricing was so cheap, but the pricing was so cheap because it didn’t account for the large majority of the costs: postage. A true rookie mistake. Now the party is attempting to claw back those funds, and numerous district chairs are extremely displeased.
Adding to that awkwardness? The fact that one of Galloway’s first actions after becoming the ED of the county Democratic Party was a highly public attempt to attack her former boss Ruben Gallego. Galloway spent several days hyping up a major announcement she was going to drop, only for it to be this statement, amounting to little more than a Gen Z’er who is amazed to learn that their boss won’t fawn over every single idea that a new college graduate has. This is much, MUCH more awkward of a dynamic now that Gallego is the presumed Democratic candidate for the US Senate race in 2024.
Additionally, the friend’s list seems to be narrowing, as the county party became an official sponsor of an event that Galloway’s fiance Franks Jr. put on which neglected to invite the Kesha Hodge Washington, a Democrat and favored candidate of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Attempting to purposely alienate the most powerful Democratic elected official of a local seat is…highly risky.
So in summary, it has been bad decisions compounded by bad performance followed by bad financial management that has led to this place: where threats were all around and where money was tight, so Galloway decided to solve both issues at once. And now they will be hamstrung regarding organizing for the future, and their brand has taken a real hit. Her hire has turned into a one-person disaster.
Good governance depends on at least two strong parties that are led competently and have compelling messages. We have seen parts of the Republican party in Arizona devolve into conspiracy theories, and now we are seeing the local Democratic party devolve into power struggles designed to paper over incompetence and underperformance. Much like the Saturday Night Massacre, it’s a sad state of affairs. We can only hope that much like that event, it leads to a wholesale change in leadership and an entirely new direction.