Now that the 2020 elections are out of the way, the political world directs its focus to party reorganization battles: where fingers are pointed, successes are co-opted, and political party leadership is set for the next two years. We recently covered the Arizona Democratic race for Chair, where a much cleaner and simpler race between two people in the wake of real victories is currently underway.
But what happens when things don’t go your way? When the top four races in the state went to the opponents? When there is clearly a need for a new direction? We’re about to find out on the Republican side, as the candidates to replace Kelli Ward as the AZ GOP Chair seem to be set..
The race got a little extra clarity when conservative darling Pam Kirby stepped aside from running for Chair and decided to instead run for Treasurer. Perhaps she saw writing on the wall, perhaps she was pressured, but if anyone knows why this took place please respond in the comments section!
Easily the biggest story in this race is the Prodigal Son, Jeff DeWit, returning from DC. The only person in this list to have electoral success, our readers hopefully remember his stint as State Treasurer, and after one term he was tapped to be the head of NASA by the Trump campaign. He then followed that up as the COO for Trump’s national campaign. While his leadership role with Jim Lamon’s Senate campaign was unsuccessful, it should not disadvantage the talented DeWit. His run seems to represent a desire to move away from the pure bombast of Ward towards operationally efficiency, fundraising capability and less drama.
Speaking of drama, Steve Daniels is also running for Chair. As the chair of the “Patriot Party of Arizona”, he is best known for being arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing into a Chandler Unified school district meeting as a form of protest. It appears that we also led the charge to get rid of machine counting of ballots in the recent County Republican reorganization meeting.
Not to be outdone insofar as being an agent of chaos is concerned, enter candidate Dan Farley. He is the self-proclaimed head of the Tea Party in the area (like you, I was unaware that that was still a thing) and seems to have made waves by shoving a fellow Committeeman in a meeting; you can find the video here.
Now that we’ve got those two out of the way, rounding out the bunch are two more serious candidates. Sheila Muehling is also running for Chair; she is well known in Scottsdale circles and is currently the Treasurer for the state party. As the only person from the current AZ GOP executive circle running for Chair, a strong understanding of how things currently operate and what should be improved is an advantage.
Lastly, former state legislative candidate Vera Gebran is running. She placed 3rd in the primary for the LD4 House; the district covers Paradise Valley and parts of both north Phoenix and north Scottsdale. She finished behind Matt Gress and Maria Syms, with Gress and Democrat Laura Terech ultimately being elected. Her campaign platform seems to focus less on conspiracy and more on the nuts and bolts of an effective party.
Now…who will win? We have to give the strong advantage to DeWit. Between being a former elected official, a generally rational actor AND one with strong ties to Trump, it seems as though he will have enough juice to pull together the various wings of the party. But the big question is, after his probable election will he have the ability to reject the conspiracies touted by his former boss and parroted by many in the caucus and focus on building a party that the more moderate right will consider as a viable option.