Recent meetings being held to discuss a caucus primary system for Arizona Republicans have riled up gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who believes the change is designed to keep her from getting elected.
The proposed reform would appear to empower GOP precinct committeemen to narrow the field to two GOP candidates for each office, as a way of narrowing the field to candidates that more faithfully represent the party’s values. Curiously, Lake views the reform as hostile, even though most observers believe both she and former Congressman Matt Salmon would benefit the most from such a change.
Lake’s tweet brought swift denials from prominent party officials.
The proposal was also quickly bashed by State Senator Wendy Rogers –
Which led Rogers’ tweet to be called out as “BS” by State Party Chairman Kelli Ward. “I told Wendy, but she thinks she’s dropping #TruthBombs when she’s actually dropping #BS that fuels our political adversaries.” fired Ward, in a tweet aimed at Rogers and a group supporting her position.
Complicating Ward’s denial and insistence that no one in the AZGOP is pressing the reform, are reports from numerous members of GOP leadership who have been invited to learn about the reforms and who have participated in phone calls designed to sway them in favor of them. One recent Zoom call in late August was led by AZGOP Executive Director Greg Safsten, who defended the idea, arguing that it could be beneficial if “…ultimately, if we get the language right, we have the right people, we have a proportionate amount of people representing these areas, to help make sure that we get good representation…”
“The dumb part is that this is a harmless conversation that is okay to have. Is there a better way to do things? Can we empower the grassroots with greater responsibility and offer higher quality Republican candidates as a result?” asked one GOP State Committeeman who has studied the caucus system and believes it could have merit. “So kudos to Greg Safsten for getting out front on it. But now it is this circus because everyone gets mad, so Ward denies denies and denies, and then has to deal with her own Executive Director leading the group? It is just a total circus.”
One opponent of the idea thinks Lake’s concerns were misplaced. “Why is Kari worried about this impacting her election when any change would take effect long after her election? Plus, doesn’t she realize that this change is Ward’s way of taking greater control of the Republican Party? Ward thinks she can control the PCs and play kingmaker, which only helps candidates like Lake because those are the kinds of candidates Ward wants to advance.”