Becky Fenger Fenger PointingOCTOBER 13, 2010

State Treasurer

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Usually the race for Arizona State Treasurer doesn't start my engines, but this year is different. In fact, one of the candidates downright scares me. That is Democrat Andrei Cherny. The other candidates are Republican Doug Ducey and Libertarian Thane Eichenauer.

It's rather amusing that Cherny calls Ducey the "insiders' choice" when this is Ducey's first foray into political office while Cherny worked for Al Gore, Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator John Kerry. He also is co-author of President Barack Obama's economic plan as described in the book, "Change We Can Believe In."

What frightens me is that the trial lawyers need a state treasurer willing to authorize investments in order to get standing to do what they love to do – sue people and things!

In a three-way debate on PBS's "Horizon" program recently, Cherny laid out his plans to compete with New Mexico, Utah and Texas by investing in local companies to help build our economy. Although he says that he will not invest in start-up companies, he goes on to tout the solar industry here. If solar were profitable, it wouldn't need all the mandated percentages from the Corporation Commission and subsidies from the taxpayers, along with cash incentives from politicians.

Ducey reminded Cherny that solar and high tech are start-up industries that should be left to the private sector to invest in, not taxpayers' money for the state treasurer to play with.
Ducey said he would look to the successful S&P 500 and S&P 400 and try to go after those 900 profitable companies to move to Arizona instead of speculating on new companies.
Thane Eichenauer faults Cherny for wanting our state to divest herself of any investments in companies like Exxon Mobil Corporation that do business with Iran when it is top return for our money that is important and not political statements.

Personally, I would have preferred that State Senator Barbara Leff had won the Republican primary race, since she recognized the rather narrow limitations of the duties of treasurer as prescribed by Arizona law. Cherny says he wants to act like a bulldog while auditing other branches of government. He maintains that the auditor general has not been auditing and faults the legislature for spending $3,500 on artwork and $6,000 on comfy chairs last year. Ducey has a real problem with an elected official like the state treasurer auditing other elected state officials.

Andrei Cherny touts his background as a prosecutor, but Ducey counters that Cherny has been running for the office of state treasurer almost as long as he's been a prosecutor. Ducey ruffled some feathers when he chided Cherny for running for office and losing in southern California before coming here and asked if he would be moving on east when he loses in Arizona.

Cherny accused Ducey of smearing Andrei's whole family with that remark. "My wife and my amazing son have more integrity in their little pinkies than you have in your whole body," Cherny stated. Ducey shot back that Cherny would use the lawyer tricks he "learned at Cal-Berkeley."

Sitting back in amusement at this exchange, Eichenauer instructed voters to go to his website at So I did. A video of cartoon characters explains that Thane likes Grover Cleveland because "he opposed business bailouts and military adventurism." One should vote for Thane because "he's the only candidate who is smart enough to support the immediate legalization of marijuana." Instead of pawning off all the state office buildings, he said, "We should sell weed at the drugstore, not in the schoolyard."

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission's booklet with the candidates' statements arrived last week. In it the Libertarian candidate had fun with his closing remark: "My name is Thane Eichenauer and I aim to misbehave.” Somehow I have the feeling that is what Andrei Cherny has in mind also.