Trump’s top political aides – inside and outside the White House – and other national Republicans believe that Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) has not been pushing their desired party line that some sort of trickery is happening in Arizona’s ballot processing and counting. Some speculate that she is silent because she believes re-elected Governor Doug Ducey will appoint her to fill Sen. John McCain’s seat if she loses the election to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9).
This reporting from Alex Isenstadt and James Arkin at Politico help fill in some of the missing puzzle pieces. When Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale tweeted about “tricks” in Arizona and speculated about “rampant fraud”, followed quickly by the President’s implications that there was corruption on display in Arizona, it was a sudden 1-2 that caught many off guard.
But, when that was followed by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl chiming in and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel calling it intentional “corruption” and “election meddling” on Fox’s Sean Hannity’s show, it was apparent that a strategy had been formed that left out McSally. Trump’s over the top tweet from Paris this afternoon – just as a court hearing on the Republicans’ suit to stop Maricopa and Pima County Recorders from contacting voters was about to begin – brought the chorus to a crescendo.
Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
Politico’s reporting fills in some of the behind the scenes details.
At the highest levels of the national party, there’s frustration with McSally — and a sense that she’s not being aggressive enough throughout the process.
While Florida Gov. Rick Scott has lashed out at election officials over the vote counting in his state, McSally has been largely silent. Top officials with the White House and Republican National Committee, who’ve been prodding the McSally campaign to amp up its efforts, have expressed frustration that the Arizona congresswoman hasn’t tried to drive a message that there’s something amiss with the vote count.
On Thursday evening, senior Republicans joined the McSally campaign for a conference call to discuss the state of play. On the call, Justin Clark, the White House director of public liaison, and Mike Roman, a veteran opposition researcher who is working with the RNC, pressed the McSally campaign on what was being done.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, meanwhile, has spoken with Lines, and has expressed a desire for more aggressiveness.
The article then outlines McSally’s and Lines’ tepid statements trying to re-brand the lawsuit as an effort to stop disenfranchisement of voters in rural counties*, rather than pushing the corruption/trickert/fraud line.
The kicker comes next, when the reporters note that some Republicans suspect a motive for McSally’s supposed lack of fight.
Among some senior Republicans, there is suspicion about why McSally has chosen to hold back. Some are convinced that she’s willing to let the race go and instead hope for an appointment to the state’s other Senate seat. Kyl, who was picked to replace the late Sen. John McCain, has yet to commit to serving for a full term.
*The Complaint and Motion for a TRO filed by four GOP County Committees on Wednesday repeatedly indicate that they were primarily targeting the voter contact procedures in Pima and Maricopa Counties. While the legal basis for the claims was that all 15 counties should utilize the same procedure for curing mis-matched signature issues, at no point did they indicate that the desired solution would be to require the rural counties to employ the same procedures that Pima County has used for several elections and that Maricopa County adopted last month under a threat of litigation.
Here is a quote from the Complaint: “27. On information and beliet however, certain County Recorders – specifically those of Maricopa and Pima Counties – will allow voters to cure non-compliant early ballots for a period of five days after Election Day, a contingency that finds no statutory authorization and threatens to beget an extended period of confusion and uncertainty following the election.”
Joined by the Arizona GOP (and the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance), the Plaintiffs agreed today to allow Maricopa and Pima Counties to continue contacting the voters, and allowing and/or instructing other counties to quickly start doing so, as well.
(Originally published at Arizona’s Politics.)