Reginald Bolding has a target on his back.
How dare he, a Black man, win elected office in Arizona? How dare he, a community organizer, rise to office before his 30th birthday? How dare he, a Democrat, win three terms in the state Legislature?
That’s why I’m not supporting him in his bid for secretary of state.
Bolding did a brave thing, stepping up to run for a critical office at a critical time. He wants to be the state’s elections boss as Trumpers steadfastly refuse to accept the results of a legitimate election.
There has been no proof of widespread fraud, yet Trumpublicans have spent millions on a sham audit, raided the U.S. Capitol and exasperated anyone with good sense as they’ve rationalized, obfuscated and flat-out lied about an election that their man lost by 7 million votes across the nation. (This is after Donald Trump assumed the White House despite losing the popular vote in 2016 by 3 million ballots.)
Bolding is right, and that's the problem
Bolding understands the peril of our times, saying at a Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting that “democracy is on the line.”
“We absolutely need people that can provide confidence, not only to Democrats but to independents and Republicans,” Bolding said, according to the organization’s website.
He’s right on the money, and that’s the problem.
Bolding is fighting criticism over a nonprofit and whether he’s too closely tied to a political action committee or benefiting from so-called “dark money.”
The allegations are that Bolding broke state law by running an organization that’s required to be independent of the candidates it supports.
If he broke that law, he faces fines. It’s a civil infraction, not a criminal offense.
A lot more candidates with a lot more blemishes
And he’s certainly not the only candidate in state history with ethical blemishes on his record.
Karrin Taylor Robson, a wealthy developer who has spend millions on a run for governor, has been connected to a donation scheme where voters receive letters in the mail that require them to opt out of donating to her campaign. Illegal? Maybe not. Deceptive? Absolutely.
John McCain was a member of the Keating Five, a small group of senators who attempted to bully regulators out of a potential criminal investigation into a key player in the savings-and-loan crisis that rocked the nation the late ’80s.
And Donald Trump set up a farce of a real estate training school in his own name that might as well have been called “Bait Switch University.”
The distinction with Bolding is that he’s not seeking a big-picture office like governor, senator or president. He’s vying for a job for detail-oriented, byzantine fact-checkers.
There are better-fitting offices for a visionary
It’s a bad fit.
Bolding is a visionary. It’s why he sees value in the Secretary of State’s Office in the first place. There’s a strong case that across the nation, few positions stand to be more influential into the next election cycle.
It’s why anyone who values democracy – real democracy and not the system-gaming charade favored by Trumpublicans – should want the most experienced, precise and meticulous candidates in the position.
Secretaries of state will have targets on their backs, especially in Arizona.
One slip up, one bad tweet, one missed clause will have scores of political operatives seeking to undermine election results.
Democracy is on the line.
We need people who can provide confidence to Democrats, independents and Republicans.
In this job, we don’t need a visionary like Bolding, who could become Arizona’s answer to Stacey Abrams, the type of leader who could flip the composition of state government or become the state’s first Black governor or U.S. senator.
For secretary of state, we need a functionary, someone so fastidious and nitpicky that we couldn’t imagine them doing anything else.
There's plenty Moore where this came from. Subscribe for videos, columns, opinions and analysis from The Arizona Republic’s award-winning team.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Reginald Bolding isn't right fit for secretary of state. Aim higher