Conservative Republicans feared losing voters if economy didn’t reopen in May

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks during a news conference to give the latest updates regarding the coronavirus Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Phoenix. /AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool

Letter offers window into internal strife within ruling party

In a letter sent to their colleagues in May, a group of conservative legislators fretted over the political cost if Gov. Doug Ducey didn’t reopen the state’s economy, lamented a lack of credit for their efforts to end the shutdown and justified their public criticism of the governor by pointing to a per diem increase that he vetoed.

The group sent the letter to other members of the House GOP on May 7, just as Ducey began to roll back restrictions on private gatherings and businesses that he imposed in March. Among other things, they called for a return to legislative business, a statewide reopening and a posture of active resistance to the governor when necessary.

The letter came as part of a pressure campaign by legislative Republicans to sway Ducey to ease off on coronavirus restrictions – an extension of the same libertarian-minded resistance that twice got House Speaker Rusty Bowers to hold off on ending the legislative session early in the pandemic.

“Why exactly are we stalling?” Reps. Leo Biasiucci, Shawnna Bolick, Walt Blackman and Bret Roberts asked in the letter, which a source obtained through public records request. “Why are we completely ignoring our base? Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to open up the state and for us to get back to work.

“The more we wait and do nothing, the more votes we will lose to the Democrats,” the letter continued.

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