A Gigantic Post-Scandal Shake-Up at the Maricopa County Democratic Party: Executive Director and Chair are Out, New Regime Is In. What Does It Mean?

What a few weeks it has been since we lifted the curtain on major financial improprieties at the Maricopa County Democratic Party (read our analyses here). Within the first five days 7,600 of you read our most recent story which ended in our call for both its Executive Director Ne’Lexia Galloway and its Chair Nancy Schriber to resign. That article led to a chorus of outrage followed by additional publications asking difficult questions of all parties involved.

What happened next? Galloway resigned, and when it became clear that that wasn’t going to be enough to pacify the storm of anger, Schriber relented and resigned as well. While we don’t want to take a victory lap in the midst of such negative circumstances, we are proud to have played a part in uprooting corruption and cronyism in politics, regardless of the party.

So what happens next? For starters, 1st Vice Chair Patti O’Neil steps into the role of Chair, and former MCDP Executive Director Jon Ryder will take on the role of interim Executive Director. While the role of Chair is important for general guidance, steering the ship as it were, the ED role is functionally the executive of the party, the one who is getting things done on a day-to-day basis. It is an absolutely vital position.

Jon Ryder has a strong resume as far as politics go; while he has been involved in local politics since before Obama’s Presidential election, he got started as a party staffer as a Regional Field Director in 2012, and made his way into the Executive Director position from 2013 to 2017. Under his leadership, Maricopa County went from a consistently Republican jurisdiction to one that would consistently be in the national spotlight.

In the 2016 election during which he led MCDP’s efforts, MCDP has two seismic wins: first, Paul Penzone defeating Joe Arpaio for the role of County Sheriff, and second, Adrian Fontes defeating Helen Purcell for Maricopa County Recorder, thus paving the way for his later success in winning Secretary of State in 2022. Also notable? Fontes lost his re-election bid for Maricopa County Recorder in 2020 after Ryder had been long gone from the organization.

More than having a track record of success however, Ryder brings a different approach. He is known to be a deeply pragmatic person, not an ideological firebrand. While Galloway rode into the role partially because of a wave of pressure for Democrats to hire more African-Americans, Ryder was never known for pushing ideological purity. He seems to understand the concept of the “big tent” better than most Democratic apparatchiks (and most Republican ones to boot). He understands to not let perfect be the enemy of good, and DEFINITELY knows better than to help engineer fraud and a cover-up.

Many of our readers are Republicans and as such were certainly delighted by the recent chaos of the county party. However we believe that everyone is better served by functional parties led by serious adults. To that end, the hiring of Jon Ryder is absolutely a strong step in the right direction, and much like Governor Hobbs’s hire of Chad Campbell foreshadows better days ahead for related stakeholders.