Opinion: Arizona Republicans still backing Trump are on the wrong path

In this case, the Arizona state GOP voted to punish former GOP senator Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of John McCain, for endorsing President Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign. The Republicans also voted to censure current GOP Gov. Doug Ducey for using “dictatorial powers” when he used emergency rules to shut down businesses as Covid-19 cases rose in the state last year. At least, that was the ostensible reason. Common sense, though, suggests it was at least in part because Ducey very publicly refused to help Trump overturn his loss in the traditionally Republican state.
The reelection Saturday of Trump-loving, election-lie peddling Kelli Ward as Arizona state GOP chair tells us a great deal about the state of the party. Since Ward became state GOP leader in 2019, Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since Bill Clinton in 1996. Democrats also flipped the US Senate seat in November after winning a seat in 2018. The result is the Democrats now control both Senate seats for the first time since 1953. You would think that record could cost someone the job as party chair. But instead Ward was rewarded with another term after she played an audio message of Trump personally urging Arizona GOP members to support her, saying about Ward, “I give her my complete and total endorsement.”
Kirk Adams, a former GOP state representative in Arizona, voiced concerns to CNN that the GOP is still continuing down “the rabbit hole of loyalty” to Trump, remarking: “What we’re getting is a purity test, and that purity test is simple: are you loyal to Donald Trump no matter what?” He added pointedly, “If you’re not, we’ll censure you.”
What was missing from the Arizona state GOP meeting was a resolution slamming Trump for his buffet of dangerous lies about election fraud and for inciting the January 6 insurrection on our Capitol. This is what we are seeing from the majority of GOP members of Congress as well. After the deadly January 6 attack on our Capitol by those seeking to prevent the congressional certification of Biden’s win, 147 Republicans who returned to the chamber after they and other lawmakers had to flee the Trump mob still voted against certifying Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
The following week, when given a chance to hold Trump responsible for the insurrection — which 63% of Americans surveyed in a recent Marist poll blame Trump for — only 10 out of 211 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump. Since then, as the New York Times reported, nearly all 10 who voted to impeach “have either already been formally censured by local branches of the GOP, face upcoming censure votes or have been publicly scolded by local party leaders.”
The most vocal attacks have come against Rep. Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach, with over half of GOP House members seeking to remove Cheney from her leadership position and primary challengers already lining up to take her on back in her home state of Wyoming.
Trump is not a fascist. But that didn't make him any less dangerous to our democracy
Now some GOP leaders — instead of joining efforts to hold Trump accountable for his misconduct — are beginning to weaponize Trump’s “Big Lie” by proposing changes to election legislation. GOP officials are not even hiding the reason for their current focus on “voter integrity,” with Alice O’Lenick, a Republican on the Gwinnett County, Georgia, board of elections, recently stating baldly about the laws: “They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.”

All the GOP’s proposed “voter integrity” efforts should be seen through the prism of an effort to make it more difficult for people who don’t traditionally vote for Republicans to cast a ballot.

In Texas, the state GOP chair is now calling for making “voter integrity” a top priority and asked the GOP-controlled state legislature to reduce the number of early voting days allowed. No surprise given the Dems’ advantage in in-person early voting last year.
In Georgia, the Republican state Senate caucus endorsed ending “no-excuse” absentee voting despite no evidence of fraud. No doubt what they did see was that Biden supporters had utilized mail-in ballots in higher numbers than Trump supporters.
Many in the GOP have made the choice that even though Trump is out of office they will maintain his “election fraud” lies — as GOP Sen. Rand Paul did Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week.” They will punish those not loyal to Trump and refuse to criticize his incitement of an insurrection. This is today’s GOP. How exactly are we to find “unity” with a party still more concerned with loyalty to a twice-impeached president than with doing the right thing for our nation?


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