Shay Khatiri at The Bulwark writes that the Arizona GOP has gone where the buses don't run:
Why did Kelli Ward lose the GOP nomination to McSally? Because Ward is just awful. She liked to pal around with Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. She won praise from white nationalists. She associated with alt-right figures like Mike Cernovich. A day after McCain’s announcement of his illness, she suggested that McCain should resign and the governor should appoint her. The day that McCain announced that he had stopped treatment, she claimed that the announcement was timed to hurt her Senate campaign. McCain would die a day later. Her husband is infamous for such acts as spitting on one of Ward’s former volunteers for switching allegiance to McSally.
With baggage like that, surely the state GOP would want nothing to do with Ward, right? Wrong: Five months after losing the primary, Ward was elected the chairwoman of the state GOP. Ever since, Ward has made headline after headline in the Arizona press for her ridiculous actions, outrageous tweets, and mismanagement—not to mention an allegation of corruption. In a fundraising email from last September, Ward wrote that “we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks.” This is grotesque. Kelly, the Democratic nominee, is nationally famous in his own right for being a NASA astronaut (and the twin brother of another NASA astronaut) but also for being the husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at point-blank range in an attack that nearly killed her and did kill six others.
Among the reasons the Republican party might lose its grasp on the legislature is that Arizona’s GOP state lawmakers have been involved in a parade of scandals over the past few years:
- Most infamously, former representative David Stringer faced calls for his resignation after a recording of his racist remarks surfaced in 2018. (Full disclosure: I have met Stringer several times, and I heard more racist and anti-Semitic comments from him in one night than I have heard in my six years living in the United States.) Stringer didn’t resign. Then, in 2019, it was revealed that he had been convicted of horrific sex crimes in the 1980s. Stringer then resigned—but he soon ran for and won a GOP state committeeman position, which allows him to vote for the state party chair and run for a national committeeman position during the party’s national convention. Meanwhile, he is running for public office again, for the position of county attorney for Yavapai County.
- In early 2018, state representative Don Shooter was expelled from the legislature for sexual harassment.
- A Republican state senator who was a longtime state representative, Michelle Ugenti Rita, was accused this past February of sexual harassment.
- Also in February, state representative David Cook was caught in an extramarital affair with the daughter of an influential lobbyist. Cook faces bribery and campaign-finance-violation charges related to his affair.
- Kelly Townsend, a state representative since 2013, suggested a year ago that vaccines are a Communist plot, then weirdly suggested that mandatory vaccines are like “government-imposed tattoos,” which naturally offended people since it sounded like she was comparing vaccination to the Holocaust.