David Lujan, George Diaz, and the Stop-Lujan Movement

lujanresized.jpg
Lujan calls his 1070 no-show "one of the biggest regrets of my elective career"

Is the fix in for former state House Minority Leader David Lujan's becoming the replacement for ex-state Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who recently announced her bid for U.S. Congress?

Or will his infamous no-show for the Senate Bill 1070 vote in 2010 deny him a return to the state Legislature, and can contender George Diaz, a well-known legislative rainmaker, help upset Lujan's applecart?

Sinema's departure leaves an immediate vacancy for the Democrats in Legislative District 15, one they will be eager to fill with the next legislative session soon upon them. The choice will be up to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who must pick from three candidates nominated by the 23 precinct committeemen of LD 15

One of those PCs is Sinema, BTW. Sinema has endorsed Lujan for the nod, and Lujan is seen as being close to Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, the lone Dem on the board.

Wilcox will be key in making the decision, as LD 15 is partly in her district and because the board must choose a Dem to replace a Dem.

But Lujan, who ran unsuccessfully to be his party's nominee for Arizona Attorney General in 2010, has a big problem with some Democrats, Latino and non-Latino alike. That is, he skipped out on the state House's vote on SB 1070, despite the fact that he was the leader of House Dems at the time.

MrGDiazJ D.JPG
George Diaz, a contender for the LD 15 spot, opposed to Lujan

In 2010, when I confronted Lujan later that same day, catching him at a small Democratic Party kaffeklatch where he was campaigning for AG, he gave me a lame excuse about the vote being at the same time as a family function for his 'rents.

"Well, I wanted to [be there for the vote], but my parents were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary," he explained at the time. "We had a little family get together this afternoon. The bill's been moving. It was scheduled to be heard two weeks ago, and then last week. And so it just happened to come up on a day when I had a previously scheduled thing."

Later, during his campaign for the Dems' AG nod, he told Horizon's Ted Simons that he was out of town when the vote went down.

After watching this, I called Lujan, who said that he had misspoken, admitting, far from the gaze of Television cameras, that he had, actually, been in town when the vote went down.

Lujan was slammed for the gaffe in Democratic circles. This misstep and his shifting excuses for being AWOL on 1070 killed any chance he had of becoming the Dem's nominee for AG. That's ironic, because many suspect the real reason Lujan dodged the vote was so an anti-1070 vote could not be held against him in a general election.

For many Democrats, and particularly for many Latino Democrats, it remains an unpardonable sin. Currently, there is a "stop-Lujan" movement afoot, with various bloggers and activists demanding that Lujan not be allowed to slip into Sinema's empty seat.

Behind the scenes, many Latino activists are galvanized against Lujan. And state Senator Steve Gallardo understands why.

"Here's a guy who was a minority leader, a Latino, who took a walk on one of the biggest pieces of legislation to affect the Latino community," Gallardo told me. "So big that it's going to go up in front of the Supreme Court. That's how big [1070] was.

"So I can see their hesitation. When it comes down to big, controversial issues, is he going to take another walk?"

Gallardo didn't think much of Lujan's initial excuse for missing the vote.

"My parents have an anniversary every year," he said. "Doesn't mean I'm going to walk on tough decisions. It's not a good enough reason."

For his part, Lujan definitely wants the gig, though he says he would only serve out the remainder of Sinema's term, essentially the 2012 session. He says he wants to return full time to being chief administrator for a local charter school after that.

He admits that failing to be front and center on the 1070 vote is unforgivable for many Dems and Latinos, and he knows there is a campaign against him.

"One of the biggest regrets of my elective career is that vote," he confessed when I spoke with him. "And I understand that there are people that are still upset, that will probably never forgive me."

But he wants his shot at redeeming himself in the eyes of Latinos and Democrats, he says. 

"I hope I would have the opportunity to show that I am [an] advocate for the Latino community," he said. "I think one of the reasons people were so disappointed when I missed that vote is that I had I had done a lot of things for the Latino community." 

But cynics note that Lujan has expressed an interest in running for higher office again, perhaps even in 2014 for state Schools' Superintendent, and this is merely a way for him to keep his name circulating in the political realm.

One of those who'd like to deny Lujan that name-exposure is George Diaz, a former lobbyist for APS, well-known for being active both as a Democrat and as an advocate/fundraiser for charitable causes, such as the March of Dimes and Chicanos Por La Causa. 

He also boasts an impressive career as a rep for the Arizona Attorney General's Office, the Arizona Supreme Court, and the Maricopa Community College District. 

"I have a combination of experience and talent that will help me be successful in the role," he explained. "If you look at it, I have eight years of public sector experience and eight years of private sector experience. I don't think a lot of people can say that."

Indeed, folks on both side of the aisle will tell you that Diaz knows the legislature inside and out, better than most of those already in it.

"I have knowledge of the process, and the protocols in the process," he told me. "I know the people at the Legislature, from the legislators to the staff, and finally, I have a passion for it. For me it's a way of serving my community, and having some impact. I truly believe I can work with the Republicans to get some Democratic initiatives passed."

That said, Diaz, like most Dems, did not view SB 1070 in a positive light, nor did he appreciate Lujan's absence from combat on the day in question.

"You're not paid to take a walk, you're paid to take a position," he said. "And if I were his constituent, I would have great concern...For him not to take a position on the final vote of that bill shows what kind of character he has and what is likely to come up in the future."

Diaz would represent some new blood, and a departure from the sort of politician we all know too well.

Two years out, Lujan's shirking of the 1070 fray, when Dems most needed him to stick and fight, still smarts. 

Whether that prevents him from slipping into Sinema's warm seat for a session, remains to be seen.

UPDATE 1/7/12: Diaz has withdrawn his name since I wrote this post. Please see my subsequent post on this subject, here.

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37 comments
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M13amarillas
M13amarillas

Lujan should be shipped out on a rail for neglecting his civic duty as a legislator and his moral  responsibility to the people of AZ.  There is no excuse for his non-vote on SB1070!  As for the other politicos that are supporting his taking over of Sinema's vacant seat, Shame on you!  

Voters will and do remember what you did come election time.

Leonard Clark
Leonard Clark

Dennis Gilman is right on the mark ! How many democratic and Progressive activists were putting their lives on the line against these John Birch racists while "bland" sell outs in the democratic party ran as far as they could from their own principles and those of the once vibrant democratic party?
Leonard Clark
Arizona and Phoenix native
1-05-12

RUSSELL PEARCE 2012!
RUSSELL PEARCE 2012!

He is fine with us.  Politicans don't vote all the time when they don't want people to know where they stand. 1070 is a great bill and Lujan didn't want to be remembered as voting against it. Whats wrong with that? 

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

This is a slap in the face folks.  Lujan's apology only demonstrates his inability to see what he did when he skipped the vote on 1070. It was most of the AZDP that didn't give a damn about it back then or were too afraid to speak up.  We can't let them get away with this. 

Contact Mary Rose Wilcox and voice your concerns. Some of us actually took off work to oppose 1070 while Lujan hid from it. 

MaryRose Wilcox (D)
Maricopa County District 5 Supervisor
301 W. Jefferson, 10th Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
(602) 506-7092
mrwilcox@mail.maricopa.gov

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

Oh yeah...forgot the part about where the great president Obama made to make it illegal for our undocumented brothers and sisters to be able to purchase medical health care insurance under his great sell out plan known as Obama care which enriches blood sucking Medical insurances CEOS like the United Health care CEO that makes millions off of our fellow sick and dying human beings !

Leonard Clark
Leonard Clark

Don't worry...(I hope I'm wrong) they...the elite leaders of the Arizona democratic party will put in this "right of center" latin Uncle Tom (Lujan) because that's what the democratic party has become and that's why I got out of it....moderate republicans like Obama and his right wing stooges Rahm Emmanuel are now the name of the game in the democratic party and...have joined with the other sell outs Bill Clinton and his Bradley Manning hating wife Hillary Clinton, and... it's no different in Arizona.  I really, really hope that my democratic grass roots brothers and sisters in the democratic party re-take it from the false/corporate republican leaders that now control it.  Oh yeah...Rahm Emmanuel, we Progressives do have somewhere to go...and its not this current monstrosity known as the "New Democratic party". F.D.R. is rolling in his grave.
P.S. Janet...haven't forgotten your actions and...you won't have Joe Arpaio to endorse you if you decide to run here again !
Leonard Clark, The Damn Liberal
Occupy Phoenix !
1-05-12

Mail
Mail

I wouldn't mind slipping into Sinema's warm seat

amadeus332
amadeus332

Sorry Rose Wilcox but on this Pinche -Vendido- Tio-Taco is where we part ways. Lujan may as well use the excuse that "My Chiguagua ate my appointment calendar" therefore I missed my vote on SB 1070....Lujan says, please forgive me and my Chiguagua that I named "SinHuevos"...after my middle name.

Al
Al

One of the PC's is Suzanne Laybe. Is she of AZScam fame?

Screw this
Screw this

This guy is represents what is wrong with the dems. Why would anyone want regress back to the bad old days? We need change and he ain't it

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

I applaud Lujan for admitting his mistake and showing some contrition.  That's pretty rare in a politician. 

That having been said, I've known George Diaz for several years.  He is one of the most intelligent, reasonable, moderate, and genuinely nice people you'll ever meet.  The legislature would be a better institution with George Diaz in it. 

RezerWreck
RezerWreck

We must never forget those we elect to represent our interest in our "representative" government system and hold all those derelict in their  vestments of representation accountable... not only should we hold Lujans feet to the fire but also include those others who conveniently skipped out on that decisive vote... Little do they realize this dereliction of duty has cost the voters of Arizona... the millions of dollars wasted and the great divisions created because THEY chose to not be present and vote on this important issue...as church lady states while pursing her lips..."HOW CONVENIENT!!!" ... So add these two names besides Lujan for dereliction of duty...Which is totally ironic when it comes to the coloring of their skin and how SB1070 has had on people of color... the two I'm referring to is none other than MR ALBERT HALE and SYLVIA LAUGHTER!!! ...HOW CONVENIENT!!  even though I have yet to hear a reasoned excuse of Mr Hales absence... Let Ms. (hmmph!) Laughters excuse be forever remembered... she knowingly full well that Mr Hale did not submit his vote for  or against SB1070 by not being conviently present..." I STAND BY MR HALES POSITION!!! "....

Wow, the turmarity of that woman...In her run for the legislature, she was the only democrat that was ENDORSED BY RUSSELL PEIRCE... GO FIGURE!!  We need to look at this and look at what kind of needless disunity that evolved from those who we elected, but fell down greatly on the job!!!

LD15 Resident
LD15 Resident

A pro-business Democrat would be a welcome change. I think Diaz would make a great choice. 

Every Latino Voter
Every Latino Voter

I just can't seem to forgive Lujan for walking out on the single most important vote in Arizona's history (still making history today) SB1070.   He abandoned us, he was more interested in his political future than in the future of Arizona's families being torn apart, Children left without one or both parents, in Arizona's economy.   

Lujan SHOULD NOT be appointed to fill that seat.  He's bad for Arizona's Families and Bad for Arizona's Economy.

I think Lujan should just change parties, he did the other party (the GOP) of huge favor in talking that walk.  They must've sent him a thank you note.

amadeus332
amadeus332

Lujan, will always be rememberd...I'm just one of many who will make sure of that...."Nothing" is wrong with that.....Hasta La Victoria Siempre

ragin
ragin

wheres pearce now? Sitting in his trailer drinking a high life...

RezerWreck
RezerWreck

nope... her campaign page was an anomaly since it had the blessings of ole Russ... she is a carpet bagger  from Mesa ~rolls eyes... she hails from the Kayenta Az area where many of the population, myself included, who are Navajo... I am related by clan to her and that would make her my Little Mom (Shi'Ma-Ya'zhii") ... so my disappointment runs deep that she would do this... So as her clan uncle... it is my duty to give her a proverbial spanking... it iz out of my good graces that she has not made me get mi pocket knife and carve a knotch in her ear...lol

amadeus332
amadeus332

You've got huevos Russell Pearce and your little Mom must be, by now, very pissed off at you.....you must seek protection by any "Means"

Steve Muratore
Steve Muratore

Ken Clark, a veteran lawmaker, Democrat and longtime civic activist would make an excellent choice to fill Sinema's seat. He announced last evening that he will add his name to those interested. I understand there will be a meeting of LD15 precinct committeeman(and women) on Sunday at 4pm to nominate three names. I hope Ken Clark's name is on that list.

AZDem9933
AZDem9933

Yeah, God knows the business community just can't catch a break in this state.  /eyeroll

malapai
malapai

Do you speak for every latino voter?

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Hey there YPS,

Your trying to find out my home address and then putting it in a post reminds me of some of the stalkers I worked with.
How about having the cajones to drop your screen name. (Won't hold my breath)

Bob Uselton.

amadeus332
amadeus332

I'm with you RezerWreck...but tell your "Shi'Ma-Ya'zhil disapointment" to fuckoff!

Steve Muratore
Steve Muratore

at various times, she caucused with Republicans while a member of the House. She was close with the late Jeff Groscost while he was Speaker.

LD15 Resident
LD15 Resident

The point is most conservatives think Dems are anti-business, which is why they tend to support Republicans.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

No, actually, you are stupid. I'm not the only person with this name. oh, and you can forget the veiled threat because we both know what you are.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Nah, I am not stupid. I'll just swing by and visit you should the need arise for us to make personal acquaintance.

Thanks for the invitation.

AZDem9933
AZDem9933

There's no need to court conservative voters in that safe Dem district.  

amadeus332
amadeus332

Si, I'm with you ....Hasta La Victoria Siempre

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