Photo Credit: AZCentral.com
This past weekend was the culmination of the post-election festivities in Arizona: the state party reorganization meetings. They serve as a referendum on the performance of the party and provide insight into where the parties might go for the next few years.
We outlined the candidates for party leadership in a recent article that you can read here. So how did things actually turn out and what will it mean?
Perhaps it was our precise and accurate reading of the tea leaves, or perhaps it was simply a highly predictable outcome for those in the know, but the races for Chair were blowouts on each side: Jeff DeWit will be the Chair of the AZ GOP, and Yoli Bejarano will be the Chair of the Arizona Democrats. Both won with over 70% of the vote on the first vote, results that would be considered as having a mandate attached to them if they were elections for elected office.
So what can we glean from this? What will change?
From a philosophical perspective, probably not very much. DeWit was a member of the Trump administration so no one will reasonably consider him a RINO. It is unlikely that he will carry over the sort of combative, napalm-fueled attention-seeking of his predecessor Kelli Ward however, which bodes well.
The fact that Ward openly spoke to the fact that they were no longer able to obtain insurance and as such had to switch to an LLC format for the organization was meant to be another “us against the libs” salvo, but instead exemplified how incredibly toxic her brand of politics had become. There is little doubt that the executive leadership experience of DeWit bodes very well for the performance and functionality of the party. Indeed, he has proven himself a very adept political operative and elected official over the years in Arizona.
Then again, one other very telling item was that Wendy Rogers joined him on stage during the reorganization meeting, and Kari Lake proudly endorsed him. While he certainly does have supporters in the more moderate wing of the party, he will clearly be friendly to the fringe right. Can he bridge both wings? If anyone can, it’s DeWit.