By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic
Arizona Republican activists say they have gathered enough support to force a new election of state party officers, including the position of GOP chair held by Kelli Ward.
The Republican activists launched their effort to force a do-over of the party’s Jan. 23 election after weeks of complaints that the closed-door election was improperly managed.
Ward and other party representatives had rejected repeated calls over the past two months to audit the results and procedures of the election, drawing a lawsuit from two activists and criticism from state lawmakers who drew comparisons between her calls for transparency in the 2020 presidential election with her rejection of calls for an audit of her own win.
In the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s election loss, Ward amplified baseless claims of a rigged 2020 election that galvanized a portion of the GOP base behind her. She narrowly won re-election in January with Trump’s help in a run-off race that demonstrated discontent with her leadership but a willingness to stick with her.
It is unclear if a do-over of the party elections would change the outcome of any race, from party chair to secretary to at-large positions that largely help the organization function.
One activist said the candidates from the January offices would face the same competition in the new elections unless a candidate removes his or her name from the ballot. Three GOP activists challenged Ward for chair; Tucson businessman Sergio Arellano lost to her in the run-off by 42 votes.