There was a small ripple in the Coconino County Democratic Party leadership on Thursday when Avtar Khalsa resigned as the Director of Precinct Operations.
Khalsa, who came in a close second to incumbant Brian Kolb in a 4-way primary race for Justice of the Peace last fall, accepted the PC Coordinator job when Cathy Fine moved up from the Precinct job to a vice-chair position. Fine was recently accepted to law school at Arizona State and stepped down from the vice-chair spot last month.
Khalsa reportedly told County Chair Harriet Young that work and family responsibilities have kept him from doing a thorough job as the PC Coordinator. Khalsa is the director of the Coconino Council for Children, and also chairs the City of Flagstaff Planning and Zoning Commission.
It's probably just a coincidence, But Khalsa's resignation comes just two days Arizona DEQ Director Steve Owens complained that Khalsa forwarded an invitation to all the county Democratic PCs for a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick. Owens reportedly said that by Khalsa forwarding the invitation, the party was showing favoritism to a candidate in a contested primary.
Khalsa replied that he would do the same for any Democratic candidate, so he couldn't see where he demonstrated any favoritism. Young, the county chair, seems to have settled the matter by stating that from now on, all such invitations would come through her. Though it seems like shes going to do pretty much what Khalsa did -- forward them to the party faithful.
When a couple different people told me about this little intra-party brouhaha, my first question was why Steve Owens got his shorts all in a knot over the emailed invitation (one source said he was even CCing Howard Shanker and Mary Kim Titla, who are both running against Kirkpatrick for the Democratic nomination for the seat Rick Renzi is not going to defend.)
Then I stumbled upon this little tidbit. Maybe Big Steve wants to make sure that Kirkpatrick isn't tapping all his potential supporters before he even gets in the race. On Saturday, the Daily Sun listed Owens as a possible candidate. Word on the street is that Owens will make a formal announcement in the next couple of days.
When I spoke with Khalsa, he said the Steve Owens email had nothing to do with his decision to step down. He said Owens asked a valid question about favoritism. He just didn't think there was any favoritism involved.