On Saturday, the Arizona Democratic Party’s State Committee met in Phoenix. Among other things, they elected former House Democratic Leader Phil Lopes and his bow tie to one of the vice-chair positions.
I was not there, and the details would probably bore most readers. Pamela Powers-Hannley over at Blog For Arizona has an account of how the election went. I think she mis-reads what the results mean, but this may be a (very long) discussion for another time.
This being said, the election of Phil Lopes to a leadership position in the party is good news.
Democrats in the State House made Representative Lopes, then in his second term, their leader in 2004 as part of a team with an aggressive agenda. They were elected over opponents who were unable to articulate a plan and whose thinking reflected and old defeatist stand-pat attitude that asked us to accept a reality where Democrats were a permanent minority in the House. Under Lopes’ leadership, the caucus began to act and think more proactively. The fact that Democrats came close to winning a majority in 2006 and the caucus’ active role in crafting the 2008 budget are, if not testimonies to the success of his leadership, at least reflect the triumph of the new attitude he brought with him.
There has been no turning back for House Democrats. Though Lopes is no longer there, and the faces of the leadership have changed, the defeatism of previous years is gone. He deserves at least some credit for this.
Among the many reasons that the Progressive Caucus, of which Lopes is a part, is so frequently frustrated by the party apparatus is a misunderstanding of the role of the party and its officers. I do not believe that Lopes’ election is going to change everything. In fact, the vice-chairs have historically had a little to do with the party’s decision-making. Lopes’ substantial experience, strategic thinking and sense of realism are too often lacking among his fellow progressives. His voice and energy will prove valuable. If anyone can make something out of this position, he can.