The WaPo has a delightful report on the deep dysfunction and monetary distress of the AZGOP heading into an election year in one of the most vital swing states in the country. I couldn’t be more delighted (emphases added):
Arizona: ‘We desperately need to keep the lights on’
In January, Jeff DeWit was elected Arizona state GOP chairman as a consensus choice who could bridge the party’s internal divisions between pro-Trump, election-denying activists and more-traditional conservatives, given his record of winning a statewide race in 2014 for treasurer and his early support of Trump’s first presidential run. He inherited a party in disarray from the previous chair, Kelli Ward, a MAGA firebrand who led efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss in the state and has since decamped to a boat in the Caribbean.
DeWit has repeatedly asked national Republican groups for financial support that largely has not come. His appeals to the RNC began in February and have extended through mid-September, including to national and regional staffers and directly to RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, according to people familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations.
“He would just ask people, ‘When does money start cycling in?’” said one GOP operative familiar with some of DeWit’s requests.
McDaniel and RNC staff met privately with DeWit, at his request, at the RNC’s meeting in Oklahoma City in late April. According to a person familiar with the conversation, DeWit told her, “‘We desperately need to keep the lights on.’” DeWit said they were in debt because of legal bills related to putting forward alternate electors falsely claiming Trump won the 2020 election.
Multiple state parties have asked McDaniel and the RNC for money for 2020-related legal bills, according to people familiar with the matter.
McDaniel encouraged him to draft a plan detailing needs and goals, and said the party was not paying legal bills. During other conversations, RNC officials have referred DeWit to a program intended to incentivize state parties to build out their own finance, data and political operations, people familiar with the discussions said.
But the state party’s needs far exceeded that program’s estimated yield. When DeWit took over, the state party had about $1 million, which mostly reflected the sale of its longtime headquarters and fundraising from the 2022 midterm cycle. The party bought new headquarters this summer; its latest financial disclosures showed about $55,000 in its federal account and $34,000 of debt owed to various vendors.
The state account reported about $214,000, mostly from a single out-of-state PAC called “Patriot Freedom.” The PAC’s treasurer, Patrick Krason, said the $200,000 contribution was meant to help the Arizona GOP oppose ballot measures on ranked-choice voting.
“The effectiveness of their spending informs our future donation decisions,” the PAC said in a statement. Its funders include Caryn Borland, a California donor whose planned fundraiser for then-Vice President Mike Pence was canceled in 2020 after QAnon memes were found on her and her husband’s social media pages. Krason said the Borlands “are not supporters of the QAnon Community.”
DeWit downplayed the minimal cash flow in the state party’s accounts, noting that balances are typically lower during the year ahead of presidential elections. “The AZGOP has made great strides this year in restoring trust in our base that we are working to build the infrastructure needed to win in general elections again,” he said in a written statement.
In another source of strain, the Arizona GOP was at odds with the House Republican campaign arm over an unusual legal dispute between state party treasurer Elijah Norton and Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who represents a battleground district. Norton sued Schweikert for defamation related to political attacks during his unsuccessful primary challenge last year.
During a tense mid-March meeting inside the state party’s headquarters, Norton presented a stack of mailers, social media posts and other records that he viewed as offensive and sought an apology from Schweikert, according to people familiar with the meeting. In response, Schweikert described the attacks as the nature of political campaigns and left. The litigation is in the process of being settled.
Meanwhile, local party staff have been deluged all year with phone calls, texts and emails from MAGA-aligned activists who want to punish or purge Republicans they deem as insufficiently loyal, according to people familiar with the party’s operations.
This summer, for example, a county party stripped Karrin Taylor Robson, who lost the 2022 gubernatorial primary to Kari Lake, and her brother, a former county supervisor, of their voting privileges as GOP precinct committee members. Maricopa County GOP chair Craig Berland said the punishment reflected “our commitment to principled Republican unity as the fundamental basis for winning elections.”
In early September, DeWit thwarted the county party’s efforts to withdraw from the 2024 state government-run presidential preference election and hold its own one-day, in-person vote with paper ballots that would have been counted by hand. The party did not have the money, manpower or infrastructure to run an election for 1.4 million eligible voters, he said. He received attacks from Trump supporters, who were pushing for such a move.WaPo, By Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Patrick Marley and Amy Gardner, November 13, 2023 at 5:00 a.m. EST
Just delightful from top to bottom: the infighting, the petty revenge, the utter disgust of long-time donors, the financial ruin. It all bespeaks of a party in utter disarray and on the verge of extinction. A political party runs on money, like it or not, because you aren’t likely to be winning any elections without it. The AZGOP is in collapse and retreat. Trump and his conspiracy delusions, encouragement of violence and lawlessness, and the fanaticism of his MAGA cult are killing the GOP at its very roots – among the state parties.
Another detail I picked out of great interest is the fact that Kelli Ward is lurking on a boat in the Caribbean. I knew she started a charter company – which by all accounts is failing miserably – but I wonder if she has an ulterior motive of fleeing the jurisdiction when the indictment and subpoenas and warrants begin to fly from the Attorney General Kris Mayes’ office and Grand Juries and courts around Arizona in the fake elector investigation?
Also of note is the contretemps between Rep. Schwiekert and the state party Treasurer. Hardly a good position for the ethically challenged and censured Representative to be in facing increasing pressure from Democratic competition in his narrowly GOP leaning district. He was only able to overcome newcomer Jevin Hodge by a few thousand votes last cycle. This cycle he faces an entire field of eager Democrats competing to be the one to finally take the wounded stag down.
I also found to be symbolic of the MAGA attack on moderate Republicans the Maricopa County GOP’s petty revenge against the Robesons in the name of ‘unity’ of all things. Utterly absurd.
For anyone who thinks the AZ Democrats will not whip the AZGOP from the top to the bottom of the ticket in 2024, this is a wakeup call about the utter dysfunction, disunity and collapse Trump and his cult have brought to the Once-Grand Old Party in Arizona. I can’t get the grin off my face…