What the visits from Trump, Pence mean for politics in Arizona and the future of the Republican Party

Dueling appearances:Trump and Pence endorse rival candidates for governor in Arizona/Screenshot/12 News

By Ronald J. Hansen and Stacey Barchenger | Arizona Republic

The battle for the future of Republican politics in Arizona, if not the nation, spilled out across the state Friday with former President Donald Trump whipping support for his grievance-fueled ticket while his former vice president and gubernatorial foe backed a more conventional conservative.

A day of contrasts began with former Vice President Mike Pence urging hundreds of GOP voters to support businesswoman and gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson during low-key stops in the state’s population centers, the Phoenix area and Tucson. Gov. Doug Ducey accompanied Pence, his longtime friend and mentor.

As night fell, Trump took back the spotlight with a raucous rally of thousands in Prescott Valley to back gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate hopeful Blake Masters. 

Republican consultant and former state lawmaker Stan Barnes said the presence of the leaders of the competing GOP factions converging in Arizona on a single day was more than historic.

“Some day they’re going to talk about this in ASU political science classes because it’s such a perfect political science experiment about what wins elections,” he said.

In style and tone, the events went in different directions, and in a race that seems to have tightened, both sides were willing to put their clout on the line. 

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