Get to Know: Alexis Tameron

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We’ll talk to the new chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, Alexis Tameron. Tameron is the first woman and first Latina to lead the state party.

Jose Cardenas: Thanks for joining us. Last month the Arizona Democratic Party elected a new chair and for the first time a woman will be leading the party. Alexis Tameron was chief of staff for Congressman Harry Mitchell. Join me as we get to know the new chair of the Arizona Democratic Party. First of all congratulations.

Alexis Tameron: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: Given the results of the last election why would you want this job?

Alexis Tameron: I have been asked that question, and I think I'm no stranger to challenges. I think that there's a lot of good that we can do. Given my background in politics and running campaigns I think that I can stay on the sidelines and kind of argue from afar. I can get in, try to make changes.

Jose Cardenas: Speaking of that last election, what do you think went wrong for the Democratic Party?

Alexis Tameron: More than anything else our turnout, our inability to convince voters to vote was flawed. The difference between 2004 and 2010 in terms of turnout which we thought 2010 was one of the worst for Democrats, in terms of turnout and election results, we think, you know, it actually got worse in 2014. I think more than anything else what the data will tell us was there was in effect the dark money that came into our state and made the environment so toxic and negative really depressed turnout amongst our folks who had of we were hoping would vote.

Jose Cardenas: You would have expect add lower turnout anyway, for an off year election.

Alexis Tameron: Correct, 2010 was an off year election. 2010 was one of the worst years for turnout in an off year in a mid term, so thinking that you couldn't get further lower than 2010, I think we topped ourselves, unfortunately, in 2014.

Jose Cardenas: How much was it Obama fatigue?

Alexis Tameron: I think there was a little bit of that but in particular because it was such an Arizona-centric election I think we saw the effects of dark money and how that played into our elections. It was overly negative, more negative than ever before. Millions of dollars that we didn't anticipate being dumped into the state to basically influence turnout did its job. Unfortunately, I think that Arizona voters were short changed.

Jose Cardenas: I think many people would say that explains the results in most of this statewide election for Democrats. How do you explain David Garcia's defeat? He was running against an opponent who didn't campaign, so there was no money to support her. To the extent money was spent it was spent by Republicans, business groups, former superintendents of public instruction who were Republicans who supported him. What happened there?

Alexis Tameron: I think that based upon what turnout was if turnout had stayed the same, a baseline that it was in 2010, it stayed the same in 2014, not only will we have David Garcia as our superintendent of public instruction but Terry Goddard would be our Secretary of State and Rotellini would have been our Attorney General. It's specifically turnout affected statewide everyone from our gubernatorial candidate on down and in particular I think because Dr. Garcia was based in Phoenix, a lot of what we had hoped in terms of education and name I.D., things you would measure a successful campaign was not as strong as we would have liked in Pima County.

Jose Cardenas: Given that appear to be any movements now to limit the amount of money spent in campaigns to control dark money, why do you think the next set of elections will be any different?

Alexis Tameron: We have a presidential race coming up and generally turnout is much, much higher. It's going to be an open presidential election meaning both Democrats and Republicans don't have an incumbent. There's going to be excitement around that but I think the reason why I ran for state party chair is we have to invest in the infrastructure of our party. The way you combat dark money, some of the effects that we saw happen in 2014, is you have to organize early but you have to have a concise message, you have to have individuals who identify with that message, and you have to have the resources to get those folks out early but it's a lot of education in the community.

Jose Cardenas: What about the Latino vote? Everyone talks about the impact it could have if it turned out in numbers anywhere near proportional to the population. What do you think you can do?

Alexis Tameron: I think that again, going back to it being a presidential election, we'll see the numbers climb up. In past elections, cycles, every two years ago we see the number climb in terms of percentage. It's just a matter of making sure that we go back and organize in the community in particular from the Democratic Party, why it's important to vote and why we think that Democratic Party represents the interests not only of the Latino families but families in general who are eager to invest in education, who want to make sure they have access to health care, taking care of family members, making sure they have the tools to compete in the global economy.

Jose Cardenas: So what mode is the party itself playing in your position in particular in terms of recruiting candidates to run?

Alexis Tameron: We do a lot of that. We have organization ass cross the street organized by County. But in terms of the state party and what we do here in Phoenix we help raise money and identify candidates and basically be a resource for them and running their campaigns, if they are a first time candidate or have run before, whether school board, city council, or anything in between, we just make sure that they know the choice to run for office is a tough one, their families go through a lot. They are constantly under the microscope. But as a party when we want to be there as a base of support and have our expertise if you will to lend those candidates not only in meeting people and being a network but also how to fund your campaigns and helping you raise money to do that.

Jose Cardenas: Alexis, you indicated one problem fort Democratic Party in Arizona perhaps in this last election, perhaps before, is messaging and people not appreciating perhaps the extent you would want them to that there's a difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. What is the message and how are you going to get it out?

Alexis Tameron: I think that it's going to be by County by County. What is important to individuals. That is going to be an education process. What we don't do is just say we think people are interested in this. We go out and not only do polling but we talk to folks in the community what those interests and concerns are to them. Making sure that over and over again, we indicate how we're different from the other party, but what we can do better if we're in power to make some changes.

Jose Cardenas: Alexis Tameron, new chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, thanks for joining us on Horizonte.

Alexis Tameron: Thank you for having me.

Alexis Tameron:Chair, Arizona Democratic Party;

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