As the crowd of 10,000 plus Arizona supporters listened on, President Donald J. Trump reinforced his confidence in winning Arizona. During his speech he mentioned conversations with Arizona GOP Chair Dr. Kelli Ward and his push to assure victory in Arizona. However, President Trump finished his comments with a warning for Dr. Ward “if we lose, I won’t like her anymore and will say you’re fired Kelli.”
If Arizona Republicans want to win upcoming elections and not find their way to extinction by 2022, the President’s declaration “You’re fired Kelli” must be the prevailing theme of the upcoming election for GOP State Party Chairman. Simply stated, the job of the Party Chairman is to win elections. To win, party chairmen on both sides of the aisle must dust off the time tested and proven playbook for victory fundamentals which includes: a victory plan, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, paid team leadership, voter identification work, door knocking, phone calls, credible messaging, minority voter engagement, social media, and data management in support of the party platform. Once the fundamentals are established, the party must shift to what is called “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) efforts. Meaning once you have the plan, the money and the message…the party must get everyone out to vote. However, without the above-mentioned fundamentals, the job of Chairman becomes nothing more than a screeching bullhorn.
A “screeching bullhorn” is exactly what many party officials would call Kelli Ward. State and precinct committeemen have accused Ward of disenfranchising the GOP from the beginning. For example, “…Ward pushes for a…tax hike!” Ward’s first public policy declaration leveled any enthusiasm she had for becoming the new GOP Chairman when she pushed for a tax hike to help fund Arizona schools.
On April 25th, 2019 Howard Fischer reported that Ward argued that “supporting taxes for higher education is a Republican thing.” Laurie Roberts with AZ Central highlighted the flip-flopping Kelli Ward titling her article on the same topic “Kelli Ward is for raising taxes … until she’s not … except when she is.” Keep in mind “low” or “no” taxes is one of the pillars or main tenets of the Republican Party Platform. Ward’s early positioning and first policy declaration to raise taxes sent a shockwave through her supporters. Some felt as if they had been hoodwinked or lied to from the beginning. During an interview, a precinct committeeman from Gila County followed up by saying, “Oh, this was just the beginning of our growing concern.”
Once Ward announced she planned to run for re-election, and in an effort to get the best perspective and accurate read on Kelli Ward’s support amongst state committeemen statewide, we made calls across the state. One of the most alarming finds during our research was the fear of retribution. Precinct and state committeemen alike asked us not to share their names because they did not want to be the brunt of a scorned chairman. Below is a list and short narratives of why we lost the Presidency in Arizona.
● Ward Supports Tax Increase – As mentioned above, one of Kelli Ward’s first policy declarations was against the principles of the very party she was elected to lead.
● $400,000 misappropriated – When Ward took office there was close to $400,000 in the AZGOP bank accounts. The money was used up quickly, not for victory fundamentals, but for renovating the AZ GOP headquarters. Historically, paint, new carpet, air conditioning were normal “clean ups” when GOP leadership changes. Not for Ward, forget the fundamentals and let’s do a full renovation on state party headquarters.
● No Victory Plan – District GOP Chairman from across the state said there was no victory plan for us to follow. There was a total break in communication and no real way know if the districts were doing the best thing to win this election.
● Hushed by RNC and Trump Campaign – Brian Seitchik, a regional political leader for both the RNC and Trump Campaign has been heard telling many people that Ward was told not to interact with the media without permission. Leadership was worried that Ward’s one liners would cost the election. They might have been right.
● Worst Fundraising – One of the worst fundraising chairmen in history. She raised an anemic $1.7 million dollars during a Presidential cycle. Reports showed just over $23 million flowed through the AZ GOP during the 2016 cycle. However, $21 million came from committee transfers and Ward had no say in how it was spent. Ward had no money and no control of the AZ GOP.
● No Minority Or Women Voter Engagement – During the 2014 election cycle, coalitions with the Hispanic, Asian, African American, women leaders and tribal communities within Arizona were established. During 2014 and 2016, Republican voter rolls increased and became much more diverse. Ward failed to nurture new Republicans or work to expand on what was already built.
● Republican Party Precinct and State Committee Dissolving – The six years prior to Kelli Ward taking the helm of the AZ GOP, the party expanded by recruiting, training and retaining Precinct Committeemen into the state. Since Ward took office the state has lost close to 50% of its elected Precinct Committeemen. How do you win in the future when your base is quitting?
● Out of Control Husband – It is bad enough to balance the media during tough times, but virtually impossible when Chairman Ward’s husband is accused of spitting in the eye of a former volunteer that switched their allegiance. (azcentral.com)
● No Ground Game to Get Out the Vote – No voter registration efforts, no concerted door knocking organized by the party, no plan for precincts to get out the vote, and no financial support for candidates. No wonder we lost the presidency in Arizona.
In short, Dr. Kelli Ward is working hard to fool even the GOP with her hard standing one liner comments to the media. Lots of words and no credible action. She is working hard to deflect the blame of losing the 2020 Presidential race in Arizona. There is no question that the potential of cheating from the other side will sway elections…but the point still stands that the fundamentals of election victory strategies did not exist with Kelli Ward. No money, no communication, no volunteer growth, no game plan, no message, no leadership. It’s a wonder that Kelli Ward suggests that President Trump would like her to run again considering the last public declaration we heard from the President to Chairman Ward was “if we lose, I won’t like her anymore and will say you’re fired Kelli.”