When Tucson Unified School District Board Member Mark Stegeman came out in support of Republican candidates for the District’s Governing Board this year, he sent a letter to the the Chair of the Pima County Democrat Party, Don Jorgensen, resigning as a precinct committeeman.
At the time, he wrote, “Persons whom I respect have advised me that I have, in my capacity as precinct committee person, violated the bylaws of the county Democrat Party. I did this by collecting petition signatures for Republican candidates in a nonpartisan race.”
However precinct committeemen in Maricopa County are refusing to take the high road.
According to an article in the Arizona Republic, 12 Republican precinct committeemen received letters notifying them that, “It has come to the Maricopa County Republican Committee’s (MCRC) attention that you may have publicly endorsed and supported Non-Republican candidates during the August 26th and/or November 4th, 2014 Elections.
The precinct committee persons were reminded that as precinct committeeman, they violated the “2014 Continuing Bylaws of the MCRC – Article VI Section 5(B) “Endorsement of Non-Republican Candidates” and is subject to the removal of your Precinct Committeeman’s (PC) voting rights at all Legislative District (LD) and Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) meetings for your entire term which ends in 2016.”
The precinct committee person, according to the Arizona Republic, were invited to “attend the November 6th MCRC Executive Guidance Committee (EGC) Meeting to defend your bylaws violation to the EGC Members prior to their vote. As a result of your voting rights being removed, the MCRC EGC may also be recommending that you be ineligible to be a candidate for State Committeeman or any LD, MCRC or AZGOP elected office.”
Flame-throwing GOP blogger Barbara Espinosa, who received a letter from Maricopa County Chair LaFaro, instead of accepting responsibility for her choice of Democrat Fred DuVal over Republican Doug Ducey, is throwing flames. Espinosa, according to the Arizona Republic, claimed that county committee would expect Republicans to support a GOP drug cartel member over a Democratic minister.
Like the Democrats in Pima County, the Republicans in Maricopa County’s bylaws prohibit endorsing non-party candidates.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, Stegeman said that while he did not understand that the rules against supporting candidates from other parties applied to nonpartisan races, “Nonetheless, as has been said truly and often, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Rules are meaningless if ignored. Therefore, although I disagree with this rule, I am compelled to resign my position as a Democratic precinct committeeperson, effective immediately.”
The MCRC made a similar move in 2010, when Rob Haney, then Chairman of the MCRC, was successful in stripping Grant Woods and two others of their voting rights. He was also successful in 2012 of stripping PCs who violated what has been referred to as “The Haney Rule.”