Monday, January 18, 2021

Politico: AZ GOP Has "Run Aground" in Support of Trump

Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge COURTESY OF FLICKR
Courtesy of Flickr

Politico looks at how the presidency of Donald Trump has damaged the Republican Party's fortunes in Arizona:

The Trump era did more damage to the Republican Party in Arizona than almost anywhere else. Over the past two years, Republicans lost both Senate seats. In November, the state flipped Democratic in a presidential race for the first time since 1996. The GOP state party chair is currently at war with the governor.

President Donald Trump’s fingerprints are on all of it, yet the state party will likely pass a resolution next week to officially “support & thank” the president. It’ll also vote on measures to censure three prominent Republicans who were deemed insufficiently beholden to Trump: Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late senator.

The adulation is an expression of GOP grassroots loyalty to Trump, but it’s also a portrait of a party that’s run aground in service to him. His defeat has triggered attempts to adopt an even harder pro-Trump line, raising questions about the party’s ability to compete in an increasingly diverse state that’s edging leftward.

“The craziness from the state Republican Party … it’s pretty embarrassing,” said Kirk Adams, a former Republican state House speaker and former chief of staff to Ducey. “We have been fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories and stolen election rhetoric and, really, QAnon theories from the state Republican Party since before the election, but certainly after.”

He said, “What’s … consequential is the effect the state Republican Party is having on the Republican brand in the state of Arizona.”

The fallout has been swift. Several thousand Arizona Republicans have abandoned the party since the U.S. Capitol riot that Trump helped to incite, with the majority of the defectors re-registering without a designated party, according to state elections officials. Business leaders are publicly recoiling from the GOP after party officials thrust Arizona into the center of Trump’s failed effort to overturn the election results, further dividing an already fractured party.

“Let us be clear: we find the weeks of disinformation and outright lies to reverse a fair and free election from the head of the Arizona Republican Party and some elected officials to be reprehensible,” read a full-page ad in The Arizona Republic this week from Greater Phoenix Leadership, a group of CEOs. “The political party organization and these elected officials, which some of us have supported in the past, have again embarrassed Arizona on a national stage.”

Read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Libertarian-leaning Reason mag suggests the Arizona GOP has become "a Trump cult":

"He is with us," the speaker in the video urged viewers. "He loves the United States of America and he loves the American people. Have no doubt!" It was a performance worthy of an obscure religious TV channel stumbled upon during a late-night bout of insomnia, but it was actually a January 8 update from Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward. She spoke in what she obviously assumed were reassuring terms of her conversation with President Donald Trump after the January 6 storming of the Capitol. "What an amazing president we have," she added, in a demonstration of the sad decay of the state's Republican organization from a political party into a cult of personality.

Once upon a time, the Arizona GOP nursed a distinctly individualistic skepticism of government and politicians. Long-time U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater famously wrote, "my aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them." A hand-wringing September 2020 Kurt Anderson column in The New York Times held Goldwater responsible for introducing Milton Friedman's free-market economic ideas to a wide audience during events that "opened the door to libertarian economics."

Sam Steiger, a colorful five-term member of the House of Representatives, said there were some of his colleagues "you wouldn't hire to wheel a wheelbarrow." He ran for governor as a Libertarian in 1982, earning 5 percent of the vote. When he returned to the Republican fold to unsuccessfully seek the party's 1990 gubernatorial nomination, the Phoenix New Times noted that while he had backed off advocacy of drug legalization, Steiger "is an admitted 'Libertarian at heart.'"

Those were Republicans you couldn't really imagine assuring party faithful that a politician "loves" them. Grudging tolerance for an officeholder was more characteristic for their breed.

Since then, however, the Arizona GOP has undergone a strange transformation.

Read the whole thing here.

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