Friday, February 13, 2015

Thoughts on the Ducey-Douglas Dustup

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 3:45 PM

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Man, have there been a lot of stories about Douglas firing Board of Education employees and Ducey reinstating them! It's a rock-'em, sock-'em, Republican-on-Republican cage fight with constitutional overtones. What's not to love if you're in the media?

I want to make a few observations about Diane Douglas. We pretty much know what to expect from Ducey, but unless you were looking hard for information about Douglas during the campaign, or unless you're one of those right wing supporters she talked to while she shut everybody else out, you probably don't know much about where she's coming from. My sense is, she's a lot like Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, though a bit smarter, with some Ted Cruz thrown in.

So, a few observations about Douglas.

1. Douglas believes what she says. Douglas isn't a politician, she's an ideologue, a true believer. Her measure of what she should say and do isn't what's doable or what will help her work with others in government. It's whether it's right or wrong, based on her ideology and overall belief system. And when it comes to education, she believes Common Core is wrong, along with the high stakes tests which accompany the Core.

2. Douglas doesn't consider herself part of the Republican establishment. Douglas doesn't want to fit in with other Republicans unless she happens to agree with them. She's not a party loyalist who has a vested interest in Ducey's success. That's one reason so many Republicans broke ranks and supported David Garcia over Douglas—former Republican Superintendents of Education Lisa Graham Keegan and Jaime Molera, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and others. They were afraid Douglas would do exactly what she's done over the past few days, and they preferred the idea of having a progressive educator like Garcia, someone who they knew would be reasonable and sensible even if they didn't agree with him, over a loose cannon like Douglas. Ducey endorsed Douglas—what else could he do?—but I'm betting in his heart of hearts, he wasn't happy with his choice.

3. Douglas will say whatever the hell she wants, whenever the hell she wants to. This is another reason why the Republican establishment is afraid of Douglas. She's willing to go all Ted Cruz on anyone she's mad at. Some of the things she said the past few days filled me with glee, like when she called out Ducey for refusing to meet with her and said he's in bed with the charter school operators and wants nothing more than bad student test scores that will move more students into charter schools—not to mention criticizing him for not pushing the legislature to pay schools what it owes them. Ducey, et al, are fine with taking statements like that from the likes of me, from Democratic legislators and even the odd Republican legislator. But from the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction? That spells nothing but trouble.

Most of what Douglas has said and done over the past few days fits neatly into one of more of those three categories, and my guess is, they will shape much of what she says and does during her tenure.

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