For Arizona Republican Leadership It’s “Election Integrity For Thee, Not for Me!”

2021 AZGOP annual statutory meeting

As the battle over auditing the election ballots from last week’s AZGOP Organizational Meeting heats up, a strange storyline has captured the national media’s attention. The leadership of the Arizona Republican Party appears to be vehemently opposed to any attempts to validate the results of the election that saw incumbent Chairwoman Kelli Ward narrowly re-elected over a Hispanic conservative challenger from Southern Arizona.

After a week of reassurances from the Party’s headquarters that an audit would happen, Ward went on KFYI on Friday to talk with host James T. Harris and announced that there would be no audit and that the entire matter was over and done with in her opinion. 

National Committeeman Tyler Bowyer, who helped to run the election at the meeting, and who reportedly told both 2nd place finisher Sergio Arellano and 3rd place finish Bob Lettieri that they had 10-days to file requests for an audit, has also taken on a much more confrontational tone, warning that Arellano would be “destroyed” if he pursued the matter, and switching his Twitter messaging from urging the GOP to be better than those on the left to bragging that he was helping to “eliminate Republicans who attack other Republicans in AZ.”

Party members question what is driving the intense resistance to allowing an audit of the ballots, particularly as it undercuts the AZGOP’s messaging and efforts to support the ongoing efforts by the Trump campaign to resolve unresolved 2020 issues.

“I have no idea what they are thinking.” said one State Committeeman who was a longtime Ward supporter, “They have spent months trying to get famous by screaming stop the steal, then suddenly they want zero accountability for the election they run that benefits them? It is insane.”

“Either they cheated and stole the election from Arellano, or they screwed up the process or the count so badly that they don’t think the results can actually be verified, in which case they’d probably have to do another election, which would be fatal to Ward’s and Bowyer’s political futures.” said another observer who asked not to be identified because the “vindictiveness of the Wards.”

Michael Ward’s temper was on display yet again as he went after a state committeewoman who had raised concerns.  She was one of dozens of state committeemen who wrote to Ward urging transparency, which led to Ward seeking her out on her Facebook page before declaring her dead to him.  “You do not exist to me!” wrote Ward, after the online debate turned against him.

It is clear that the Arizona Republican Party has yet another communications disaster on its hands, even as Republican legislators and Trump officials continue to try to get to the bottom of what did or did not happen in November’s election.  It is too early to tell what long-term damage this will do to GOP efforts to not only discover the facts around Arizona’s election but to pass meaningful reforms to safeguard elections in the future.

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