On Wednesday, May 10, on a vote of 46 to 42, 10% of Legislative District 4 Republican Precinct Committeemen adopted a resolution censuring Republican AZ House Speaker Toma and Republican AZ Senate President Petersen.
This drastic action by 46 Precinct Committeemen was because those two Republican legislative leaders failed to commit political suicide by defunding the Governor’s office. Here is the actual text of the resolution:
“Legislative District # 4 of Congressional District # 1 RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:
Ben Toma, as Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives; and, Warren Peterson, as President of the Arizona Senate, are hereby rebuked and censured with a vote of no-confidence and do forfeit the social, political, and financial support of their Republican Constituency. This forfeiture shall remain in place until such a time as they realize and correct their errors by bringing all the financial might that civil and criminal law affords (sic) their sworn public offices to defund the Governor’s Office until the Governor acknowledges and acts to correct election fraud and in favor of the Citizens of the State of Arizona.”
The full text of the motion to censure may be read HERE
The text of a recommendation in opposition to the motion is HERE
It is not clear whether the legislature has the power to unilaterally defund the executive branch. What is crystal clear is the result of such action. What politician in his right mind would be willing to shut down the state government, with the consequent backlash from voters? Doing so would certainly hand the legislative majority to Democrats in the next election. But that is exactly what this resolution to censure demands.
Furthermore, the punishment for failing to cave to that demand is, “forfeit the social, political, and financial support of their Republican Constituency.” It is hard to imagine any scenario under which approving this censure was good for Republicans.
Even before this censure vote at LD4, there was evidence that this infatuation with censures was hurting Republicans in the eyes of Independents and even some more moderate Republicans. An indication of this is that far-left Arizona Republic commentator Laurie Roberts, on April 28th posted this on Twitter:
“Just when you think the far-right loons can’t get any loonier, they start dive-bombing their own flock.”
We know that Roberts is an enemy of conservative Republicans. Some Republicans make it their mission to debunk her drivel. But in this case, they are unable to do it because she is correct. By passing censures like this one, Republicans are in fact dive bombing their own flock.
There were several parliamentary attempts to prevent this motion to censure from going forward. One of these attempts was a motion to amend the original motion so that Governor Hobbs would be the object of the resolution, instead of the two Republican legislators. The failure to do so elicited this comment from Yvonne Cahill, a long-time conservative activist, and current Member at Large for Congressional District 1 at the State Executive Committee.
“The PC’s had an amendment to the resolution to censure Katie Hobbs, who was mentioned fourteen times in the first part of the censure, and totally take out the Republican legislature, and they voted to support Hobbs and go against Republicans”
Other seasoned conservative activists also showed extreme concern about this move by 46 LD4 precinct committeemen. One such activist is Lynne Weaver, who has been an avid electioneer and supporter of the Republican platform for many years. She put her objection to the censure this way,
“Our job as Precinct Committeemen is to work as a team and help our Republican candidates get elected, not give our elected officials contentious group opinions on the votes they cast.”
Even relative newcomer to the ranks of precinct committeeman Priscilla Moore has some concerns about this rush to censure, which she expressed in a more conciliatory language,
“We will make more progress as a legislative district party if we work to remain united as friends and fellow conservatives. Those who chose to devote their valuable time and energy to censure two hardworking fellow Republicans would create better results if they instead used their energy and networking skills reaching out to independents to create Republican votes. Although we are all independent thinkers, we must resist internal disruption to win elections and keep Arizona red.”
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this rash of censures of Republicans by Republican precinct committeemen will make it more difficult, and possibly impossible, for Republican candidates to retain, much less expand, their majority in the state legislature.