Republicans in Arizona on the Brink of Extinction?


In 1996, when I moved from Arizona to California for my third and longest stint there, the Republican Party was running smoothly. After arriving in Los Angeles, the California GOP was a hot mess. This has remained true for more than 20 years.

It’s been a little more than five years since I returned to my home state of Arizona. Unfortunately, it seems that whatever afflicted the California Republican Party is contagious. The Arizona GOP I returned to seemed so different from the one that I had left, that I wondered if those good old times were really that good. The good old days were indeed great, but it was hard to accept that they had long since passed.

Arizona elected Kyrsten to the United States Senate shortly after I returned. She was the first Democrat in Arizona to win a Senate race since Dennis DeConcini, a high school friend of my father’s, won reelection here in 1988. In January 2021, our two senators would be Democrats. This was a situation many thought impossible a decade ago. This change was brought about by a number of factors, but I am comfortable placing most of the blame on my state party.

Many people use demographic shifts as a convenient excuse, which is part of the issue. Arizona is a state that draws Democrats from blue states hells to try and establish themselves here. For a few years, the Dem flying monkeys of mainstream media have written and said that Arizona “flipped” to blue. That’s nonsense. The color has definitely changed, but it’s still a long way from the blue.

Six of Arizona’s 9 representatives in the House are Republicans. Five of those six are Freedom Caucus members. California Lite is not yet our goal.

Early in 2018, I asked my conservative friends, who were well-versed in Arizona politics, what kind of bench was there for the GOP. The majority of conservatives who were very knowledgeable about Arizona politics replied “None”. It was a slight overstatement. This problem is reflected in our current Senate situation.

Martha McSally is an attractive woman. She is not a good retail politician. McSally’s weakness as a statewide campaigner was painfully evident in her loss to Sinema in 2018. McSally became the placeholder for the open Senate seat after John McCain’s death because there was no other candidate to choose from.

Woefully short of options, the Arizona Republican party turned to McSally for the 2020 special election, where she was dispatched by carpetbagger Mark “I’M AN ASTRONAUT!” Kelly.

In 2022, Republicans will be enduring a disaster in both the Senate and gubernatorial races. I’ve written about the Maricopa County ballot machine issues, which are always suspicious. It’s not accurate to blame the GOP’s failures in two of the biggest races on this.

There were no names familiar to the party that it could rally around in the primaries. Kari Lake was a familiar face on TV and had Donald Trump’s support. For a time, I was enamored of her campaign and this blinded my eyes to her shortcomings as a politician. Lake said at a large rally a few weeks before the election that the “McCain Republicans should “get out” which, as Jon Gabriel pointed out:

McCain Republicans are overlapping with those who have crossed party lines in support of President Joe Biden. This will turn the state blue by 2020. They are usually middle- and upper-middle-class people who are centrists, business-friendly. They live in nicer neighborhoods around Phoenix. They want low taxes, an efficient government, and no drama.

They are not the majority – by far – but they do exceed the single percentage point Lake required to beat Hobbs.

McCain has been a polarizing figure for hard-core conservatives, but there are still many older Republicans in this state — some older than me — who loved him. Lake’s comment was a rookie error. She was, again, the only option left for the GOP’s barren bench.

Gabriel outlined some of the other major problems facing Republicans in Arizona.

Arizona Republican Party has a bit of bad luck.

The state House and Senate still have a one-vote majority, but if their finances aren’t in order by 2024 they will be in trouble.

As of March 31, Arizona GOP’s cash reserves were less than $50,000. This is not enough money to cover essential expenses like rent, payroll, and campaigns.

It had close to $770,000 four years ago.

Money wasted is more important than the cobwebs on the vault.

The party spent $300,000 for “legal consulting”, much of it aimed at overturning Trump’s defeat in 2020. The only thing they can show for their $300,000 investment is a Democratic Governor and U.S. Senate Delegation.

I cannot take a political party or candidate seriously who spends a lot of cash on consulting. The political consultant game is one of the largest swindles in the country. Local parties and candidates who are flush with cash from donors are suddenly overcome by the urge to spend it like an alcoholic Kennedy cousin at a convention of exotic dancers. Consultants start to appear out of nowhere in order to get them their money.

The fact is that this was the third time in a row that “anomalies”, or irregularities, occurred in Maricopa County. They couldn’t claim to be blindsided. Maybe state and county parties need to focus their resources on preventing this from happening again.

Jon continues to point out a looming issue here in Arizona.

In April, 34.6% registered Republicans. Arizona Democrats are only 30.3% of the total voters. Between the two major parties, there is a growing number of unaffiliated voters.

In Arizona, independent voters make up 34.3%. A net gain of 10,077 independents in Arizona would be enough to make them the state’s largest “party”.

It means that neither Republicans or Democrats will be able to win elections in this country by simply throwing red meat to the base. By the way, I say this as a permanent and lifelong resident of the Republican base. The use of fiery rhetoric is not enough to win this election.

I’m not yet in a state of existential dread over the future fortunes of the GOP. I find comfort in the fact the majority of Arizona’s congressional delegation is conservative. This is a good foundation to build upon. It won’t be easy to bounce back after years of poor focus and financial mismanagement.

Arizona is known for its uniqueness, and this presents a great opportunity next year. Kyrsten Sinema is running for reelection, and her status as an independent has opened up the race. Dems are going to split votes next year unless she decides not to run again. If the GOP fields the right candidate, this seat could turn red again.

The Republican bench problem still exists. Kari Lake may seem like the obvious choice, but I don’t agree. One prominent name could change the game for Republicans — the recently retired Governor. Doug Ducey. Ducey repeatedly stated that he does not want to run for Senate. Recently, I have heard some rumors. He will also be heavily recruited to run by the national GOP.

It’s a lot to consider until Ducey says “no.”

It’s not all lost. After a regime change, the party now has a new leader — Jeff DeWit. He replaced Kelli Ward as party chair, who during her four-year term was responsible for much of the precipitous decline. To put it mildly, I was not a fan.

Arizona’s political landscape is fluid and unpredictable. Anyone who believes they can predict the future is likely to be concussed.