After election losses, Ariz. Republicans will choose a new leader. Will they also choose a new path?

By Ray Stern || The Arizona Republic

Arizona Republican Party officials are slated to elect a new leader Jan. 28 who will attempt to heal the fractured political organization — or drive a wedge deeper into it.

The party’s recent schism has critics, including many Republicans, blaming current party chair Kelli Ward for over-focusing on former President Trump and baseless allegations of election fraud, contributing to high-profile election losses in 2020 and 2022.

But the grassroots, Trump-supporting faction remains a pivotal force, a fact reflected in the candidates and resolutions that party officials will consider at their annual meeting.

Of the six candidates vying to replace Ward, the two who are considered front-runners — Steve Daniels and Jeff DeWit — represent two kinds of support for the election-conspiracy movement. DeWit is a former Trump appointee who also worked as Trump campaign’s chief operating officer, while Daniels is an activist whose primary aim is to overhaul the election system.

Moderate Republicans worry that continuing on a pro-Trump track will further damage a party hobbled in recent years as key constituents were turned off by far-right candidates. Tens of thousands of voters who backed other Republicans in November helped Democrats sweep the top three statewide posts and hold a U.S. Senate seat.


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January 2023