The Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives did what he thought was right after Rudolph W. spread Covid-19.
But the move now adds fuel to open conflict within the Arizona Republican Party, positioning Trump loyalists determined to overturn the state’s election results against relatively moderate figures like House Speaker Rusty Bowers. and Governor Doug Ducey, who both managed to clear the results will remain.
Party this week publicly urged people to fight to the death to annul the election in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated President Trump by less than 11,000 votes, or about 0.3 percentage point. The plea came after 28 current and incoming Republican lawmakers called for the election to be revoked, as requested by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal and campaign counsel.
The feud, in which powerful state Republicans openly insult each other, calls attention to the challenges the party faces as Arizona transforms from a Republican stronghold into a battleground state.
“There has been a civil war brewing in the Republican Party for the past few years,” said Marcus Dell’Artino, a Republican strategist in Phoenix. “We are now seeing the public part of it.”
Arizona Republican Party chairman Kelli Ward told Ducey on Twitter last week at #STHU – the hashtag for “shut up” – after defending the state’s electoral process. At a press conference, Mr. Ducey replied, “I think what I would say is that the feeling is mutual to him, and practice what you preach.
Separately, Andy Biggs, a Trump loyalist in the state legislature, singled out Mr. Ducey for a public rebuke over the coronavirus, theorizing that the governor “intended to force vaccinations.”
Mr. Ducey’s chief of staff, Daniel Scarpinato, then entered the fray, tweet to Mr. Biggs: “We always knew you were crazy, but you have now officially confirmed it for the whole world to see. Congratulations. Make the most of your time as a permanent resident of Crazytown. “
Internal fights erupted after Mr Giuliani visited Phoenix last week as part of his traveling legal battle claiming, without providing any evidence, that the election was marked by widespread fraud. Mr. Giuliani spent about 11 hours with several Republican lawmakers in a hotel ballroom, and also met at least eight people during a visit to the Arizona State Capitol.
Neither Mr. Ducey’s office nor Zachery Henry, an Arizona Republican Party spokesperson, responded to requests for comment on the public discord. After the party asked its supporters on Twitter if they were prepared to die for the cause of the cancellation of the election, Mr. Ducey claimed that the Republican Party was “the party of the Constitution and the State of law”.
“We prioritize public safety, law and order, and we respect law enforcement officers who provide our security,” Mr Ducey said on Twitter. “We are not burning anything. We build things. “
Still, Mr. Giuliani’s baseless claims resonated with what appears to be a significant part of the state’s Republican Party, which has periodically dealt with factional feuds.
In the 1980s, Governor Evan Mecham, known for canceling a paid holiday in honor of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., was removed and removed from office two years after his election. More recently, divisions have arisen between supporters of Mr. Trump and those of John S. McCain, the Arizona senator who, before his death, was one of the few powerful Republicans to push back the president.
Mr. Ducey, who sailed for re-election in 2018 while conforming to a centrist image, had moved all-in for Mr. Trump on the campaign trail this year. But then he challenged the president in a televised press conference last week, going so far as to silence a call from Mr. Trump as he signed the papers certifying the Arizona election results.
To the frustration of staunch supporters of Mr. Trump in the state, including some who have been protesting the election results for weeks, Mr. Bowers, the Speaker of the House, has also made it clear he will resist calls to to cancel the certified results.
“As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election,” Bowers said in a statement. “I voted for President Trump and I worked hard to re-elect him. But I cannot and will not accept the idea that we are breaking current law to change the outcome of a certified election.
When Mr. Bowers then closed the room for a week after Mr. Giuliani tested positive for coronavirus, Arizona Republican Party chair Ms. Ward, took him to task on Twitter, saying, “This is a 100% unnecessary and cowardly gesture.”
Some warn that the increasingly caustic bickering is clouding an election in which Republicans have actually performed better than many anticipated. While Mr Biden narrowly won the state and Democrats won a second Senate seat, Republicans held control of both houses of the Legislature and won most state offices up for grabs. .
Regarding ambitions to curtail Democratic gains, Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican strategist in Phoenix, said the bickering reflected the rise of a “more militant conservative part of the party” personified by Ms Ward, who had been unable to form relationships. with the larger Arizona business community and run fundraisers without relying on Mr. Trump.
“The party is no longer the relationship-building apparatus it was for many years under previous governors here in Arizona,” Coughlin said. “It’s a vestige of Trump’s authority.”