The Arizona Republican Party really does not want ‘Independent’ voters

SalemConservative Republicans are now a cult that demands strict adherence to a socio-politico-religious dogma. Anyone who strays from this strict dogma is an infidel (RINO) who will be purged from the party.

When do the trials by fire and trials by water start as a purity test of faith for Republicans to prove their fealty to their rigid dogma? And who exactly will enforce it? Modern movement conservatism has become Medieval.

If you are a “no party preference” aka “Independent” voter, the Arizona Republican Party really does not want you infidels. According to former Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman A.J. LaFaro: “I can no longer sit back and allow ‘Independent’ infiltration, ‘Independent’ indoctrination, ‘Independent’ subversion and their international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids” (paraphrased from Dr. Stangelove).

In January 2014, the Arizona Republican Party adopted  resolutions to exclude independent voters from their primaries:

There was a “Resolution Urging The Institution of Caucuses to Nominate Candidates for General Elections,” because “Republicans should nominate Republicans without the threat of outside interference.”

In other words, the Arizona GOP is opposed to Arizona’s semi-closed primaries in which registered independents are allowed to vote. They want a caucus where only the GOP crazy base is allowed to vote to preserve the purity and sanctity of the “precious bodily fluids” of the Arizona GOP. In fact, the resolution calls for an amendment to the Arizona Constitution “to allow parties to nominate candidates for each partisan office by caucus.”

In September 2014, A.J. LaFaro said he wanted the party’s lawyers to find ways around the 1998 voter-approved measure, which allows independents to participate in choosing the nominees of any recognized party. Republicans could try to block independent participation in primaries.

These positions were reaffirmed at the Arizona Republican Party’s Biennial Reorganization meeting this January. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reported last week, State GOP may move to close primaries to independents:

At its annual state committee meeting in January, the Arizona GOP voted overwhelmingly for a resolution instructing its executive committee to go to court in an attempt to close its primary. The resolution states that “Republicans should nominate Republican candidates without the threat of outside interference.”

The resolution also asked the Legislature to replace the open primary with a closed one, which would require voter approval. In 1998, voters approved an amendment to the Arizona Constitution allowing independents – those who are registered under no party, or with a party that is not recognized on Arizona ballots – can vote in Democratic or Republican primaries.

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[C]onservative activists have long bemoaned open primaries, which many believe help elect candidates who don’t share Republican values and water down the party’s platform. And now that independents outnumber Republicans, their impact on primaries is increasing.

A.J. LaFaro, the former Maricopa County Republican Party chairman who spearheaded the closed primaries resolution, said he believes independents are responsible for moderate Republicans winning primaries over more conservative opponents in several legislative districts last year.

“Independent registered voters are not affiliated with a party, so they’re not affiliated with a party platform. They’re not affiliated with the values of a recognized party,” LaFaro said. “To have an independent voter be able to pull a Republican ballot in an Arizona primary and not have those beliefs or values of the party platform, then they are going to adversely affect the outcome.”

The problem facing supporters of closed primaries is that the Arizona Constitution requires them to be open to independents, meaning only another voter-approved constitutional amendment can close them again. But a 2007 federal court ruling may hold the key.

After voters approved open primaries, the Arizona Libertarian Party sued to close them again. After the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the district court, Judge Raner Collins ruled that the open primary violated the Libertarian Party’s First Amendment right to free association.

In a ruling based largely on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 decision to overturn California’s “blanket primary” system, Collins said Arizona’s open primary created a danger that Libertarian candidates would be chosen by voters who are not Libertarians. He also said some non-Libertarians could take advantage of the system that makes it relatively easy to get on the ballot as a Libertarian candidate.

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Election attorney Joe Kanefield, a former assistant attorney general who represented the state during the earlier days of the case, said the Arizona Republican Party has a strong chance of success if it sues to close its primary. He noted that a district court ruling is not binding or precedential, but said a future court would certainly be aware of it.

“It’s definitely a viable case, and the court has left the door open to bring a challenge like this,” Kanefield said. “The Supreme Court takes a very skeptical look at any law that infringes on anyone’s First Amendment rights.”

Another election attorney, Kory Langhofer, said the Arizona Republican Party would have a “very good chance” of winning its case.

“The Libertarian case is exactly why the Republicans would have such a great chance of actually closing their primary if they want to,” he said.

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The Arizona Republican Party may have to go through internal battles of its own before it takes the issue to court.

The Arizona GOP’s executive committee has not yet taken any action on the closed-primary resolution. Now, LaFaro is accusing Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham of dragging his feet.

Party spokesman Tim Sifert said that’s not the case. He emphasized that the executive committee has only had one meeting since the resolution was adopted, and that meeting was only to swear in new members. He said the executive committee would discuss the resolution at its next meeting.

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If the [AZ GOP] executive committee  doesn’t follow through on the resolution, LaFaro said he and other supporters may pursue legal action.

There is also pending legislation to enact the January 2014 AZ GOP Resolution to permit party caucuses to nominate candidates for the primary election. HB 2664 (.pdf), HELD in committee last week, would allow a political party to nominate partisan candidates for appearance on a primary election ballot by way of a political party caucus for each of the following public offices:

a. U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
b. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Mine Inspector.
c. Arizona State Senate and Arizona House of Representatives.
d. Any countywide office.
e. Any partisan city or town office.

What this means is that only a handful of elected precinct committeemen at a party caucus meeting would determine who the Republican nominee would be for each office on the primary ballot, rendering the primary election a farce foregone conclusion. No longer would there be the possibility of multiple candidates from which to choose on the primary ballot that hundreds, if not thousands of voters — including you infidel RINOs and Independents — would decide the winner by your ballot.

Then there is the attempt to control even the party organizations with SB 1309 (.pdf), which would require that a proxy given by a state committee member for use at a state committee meeting be given to a member of the same political party as the member and caps the amount of proxies a person can carry from members of the committee to a meeting at ten. It also caps the amount of proxies a person can carry from members of a county committee or legislative district committee to a meeting of the county or legislative district committee at four proxies. It passed the Senate Committee on Government by a vote of 6-1.

Even more disturbing is the Arizona GOP’s attempts to infringe the constitutionally guaranteed right of the citizens of Arizona to citizens initiatives, referendums and recalls:

HB 2407 (.pdf) – Modifies requirements for initiative, referendum and recall to require courts to strictly construe, and the petition proponents to strictly comply with these provisions (rejects the “substantial compliance” doctrine). Passed the House Committee on Eelctions on a 3-2 0n party-line vote.

HCR 2001 (.pdf) – Raises the threshold for passage of an amendment to the Arizona Constitution from approval by a simple majority of voters to approval by 60% or more of voters. Was scheduled to be heard in the House Committee on Government and Higher Education on February17, but no recorded vote. This bill would be a ballot measure that requires voter approval  — by a simple majority vote.

It is amazing to me that anyone identifies with the modern-day Republican Party at all. As I have said many times, “this is not your father’s GOP.” And it certainly is not the “Party of Lincoln.”

6 responses to “The Arizona Republican Party really does not want ‘Independent’ voters

  1. I think Brian Clymer has it right!

  2. Do these people not realize just how easy it is to change your party identification? I could be unaffiliated, become a Republican just before the primary, vote in the GOP primary, and then say I’m unaffiliated again.

  3. Let me raise a couple of questions that concern me about open primaries:
    1) Isn’t it harder to get people to register as a Democrat if they can simply register as No Party and vote in our primary?

    2) Is it really asking too much to ask them to be a member of our party, if they wish to vote in our primary?

    3) Given the antipathy most No Party people have to both GOP & Dems, do we really think we are encouraging them to vote Democratic if we let them vote in our primary?

    I’m for a primary system, not a caucus, to select our nominees, and I don’t think we need ideological litmus tests before a person can register as a Democrat. I just think the system we have now encourages people to register as No Party. Given that fact, supporting the current system runs counter to our goal of registering more Democrats.

    • First, people who register no party preference (independent) tend NOT to vote at all in the primary; their numbers are insignificant to effect the outcome, despite what the GOP thinks. In states like Wisconsin, which has an open primary and anyone can vote in the primary of their choice, there has never been a verified instance of malicious cross-over voting in the other party’s primary determining the winner of that primary.

      Second, yes the current system encourages people to register no party preference: it is the default setting for motor-voter registration at the DMV if one does not select a party. And the media villagers, who all profess to be registered independents despite their obvious political biases, constantly put being an unaffiliated “independent” voter up on a pedestal as an ideal, as if belonging to a political party is something dirty and one should be ashamed. This B.S. does sway some people into thinking they are “special” if they register as no party preference. What it really does is identify them as politically disengaged, and more than likely a low information voter who likely does not vote.

      Finally, we are not going to change the above. So if the GOP closes its primary, and the Democrats are welcoming to all voters, that sends the message that Democrats want Independent voters, and the GOP does not. In the long term, this should be beneficial to Democrats.

  4. Cut out the rest of my comment. Interesting…

  5. Don’t want to dilute the party? Well, well…where have we heard something similar?