Thoughts On Selecting A Republican Party Chairman

It’s that time again when elected precinct and state committeemen convene to elect a new Republican Party Chairman here in Arizona. As required by law, new party officials are chosen every other year to lead the party into the next round of elections.

This year, I won’t be voting or participating in these elections. That’s because I am no longer a precinct committeeman. I walked away from party service last year after witnessing some of the worst political behavior I’ve seen in over 25 years that took place during a county GOP meeting. (Read my post here.) I don’t have the time or toleration to waste another Saturday participating in what should actually be reserved for real opposition – fighting the left.

Instead, I’m watching the process as party activists explain why they believe their candidate is best for the job.

Arizona Republican PartyGoverning and leading the Republican Party is something I would know about because I’ve actually worked for the Republican Party Chairman. And that was during a very active time including a state senator recall election, special congressional election, Arizona redistricting commission fiasco, presidential primary debate preparation in Mesa, state convention that didn’t go that well and of course, all that on top of a Primary and General Election season during a presidential election. A lot happened and what most party activists don’t realize is that these challenges could have been easier to handle and the outcomes could have been more successful if only the conflict had been minimized.

One other factor to mention -and it’s becoming increasingly important as times change. Political parties are striving to remain relevant. This was made abundantly clear during this last presidential election as a former Democrat who switched parties to become a Republican attacked the establishment with an independent message and won the GOP nomination. Layer that on top of the hard reality for Republicans and Democrats alike, that 33.97% of registered voters do NOT identify with either the Democrat or Republican party. In Arizona, where Republicans hold majorities in the legislature and statewide office, the future of political parties is unpredictable when the number of independent voters is about to take the lead.

This brings me to thoughts and advice when selecting a Republican Party chairman.

If I were to vote for this individual I would make my choice based on four criteria: vision, fundraising, cooperation and messaging.

Fundamental to good leadership is whether or not the leader is visionary. Governing, administering, fundraising, etc. will never be enough if the individual can’t cast a vision that inspires and motivates followers. The next party chairman will have to put forth a vision that is bigger than themselves, bigger than the party and inspires believers and even non-believers to buy into the future. Given the struggle for relevancy in this day and age, this will be the biggest challenge for the next chairman and it will enable and affect all the other roles. The next chairman will need to show the party faithful what the future looks like and not just tell them.

Fundraising capacity is critical. It’s very hard to move a movement forward without having the resources to pay for it. Telling the story and selling the vision costs money, lots of money. As they used to say in the space program, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” Elections are big business. While candidates have to raise their own money, the GOP must amass a massive war chest in preparation for the get out the vote effort in the General Election. And this fundraising capacity is inextricably tied to the criteria of cooperation.

Chairmen who enter their role having run on a platform of conspiracy theories will find it extremely difficult to raise money. Burned bridges tend to stay burned. 

In party politics, cooperation is an asset not a liability. Team players are far more successful than solo artists who rise through the ranks by dividing and conquering. This means that chairmen must stay completely out of primary contests and hold their fire until the General Election. Impartiality, objectivity, even-handedness are imperative for party unity. And this capacity to cooperate is crucial to working with Republican officeholders. A party chairman might not like or agree with our senior Senator but he or she must put their personal differences and disagreements aside for the sake of party success.

Finally, as someone who works in the arena of communication, I cannot stress strongly enough the power of messaging. Perception is reality, especially in the world of politics. If you’re not defining who you are, your opponent certainly will and they will do so ruthlessly. (I learned this lesson personally during my time at the AZGOP.) Chairmen who sow drama and controversy, reap the same. Wasting precious time and energy putting out fires, robs resources from winning elections. Chairmen who are constantly in damage control mode don’t win elections.

Having worked as an activist in the culture war for many years, growing the movement is the most important thing one can do to move an agenda and score victories. The next chairman will need to be highly proficient in the art and science of political mathematics.

Effective movement-building and party-growing messaging must be based on addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.

Demographics in Arizona are changing. Much of the old guard is fading away into history. If Republicans want to remain relevant, they must acknowledge these demographic shifts and affirm the the values and principles that attracted people into the party: smaller limited government, lower taxes, under control spending, economic freedom and growth, safe communities, federalism, life and family-affirming values, religious freedom, educational choice and freedom, and strong national security. These are the values that appeal to millennials, Latinos and women.

I won’t be voting in the upcoming GOP party elections but I will be watching. Like many other Republicans who are tired of all the gratuitous drama, I’ll be reconsidering my party involvement based on how my fellow Republicans behave and who they choose for this important position.

So if you’re asking for my editorial advice on these party elections it would be choose wisely, fellow Republicans. Choose wisely.

Arizona Solicitor General Issues Opinion on Arizona GOP Party Elections

Just issued today, a legal opinion by the Arizona Solicitor General office of the Arizona Attorney General, resolves a dispute regarding notification in Republican Party elections.

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

The opinion issued by Dominic Draye to incoming Speaker of the House JD Mesnard, settles the legal question of whether or not precinct committeemen were properly noticed regarding the upcoming Maricopa County Republican Party election and ultimately the election of State Committeemen in LD23 including an announced candidate for State Party Chairman.

In question was the definition of “by mail” as cited in ARS 16-824. The statute states:

16-824Meeting, organization and officers of county committee

  1. The county committee shall meet for the purpose of organizing no earlier than ten days after the last organizing meeting of the legislative districts which are part of the county, and in any event no later than the second Saturday in January of the year following a general election. The county committee shall elect from its membership a chairman, a first vice-chairman, a second vice-chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. The latter two offices may be filled by the same person. The chairman of the county committee shall be ex officio a member of the state committee.
  2. The chairman of the county committee shall give notice of the time and place of such meeting by mail to each precinct committeeman at least ten days prior to the date of such meeting.

Current Maricopa County Republican leadership has argued that “by mail” is vague enough to include email as a method of notification to precinct committeemen. Despite an outcry from district chairmen warning Bowyer of the statutory demands and his misunderstanding, he and Secretary Dan Schultz remained adamant they were correct in their interpretation of the law, referring to their bylaws and ignoring statute.

Chairman Tyler Bowyer cited recent changes to the Maricopa County GOP bylaws, where the inclusion of email was listed as a means to notice meetings, insisting the statutory definition was inclusive of email notification in that it didn’t exclude email.

In the opinion posted by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Solicitor General Draye clarifies and establishes the correct definition of “by mail” in the following statement:

While judicial authority interpreting the phrase “by mail” under Arizona law is limited, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona recently interpreted the word “mail” as used in Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 4.2(c).  Cachet Residential Builders, Inc. v. Gemini Ins. Co., 547 F. Supp. 2d 1028 (D. Ariz. 2007).  The court, relying on an established dictionary definition, held that mail is “defined as ‘letters, packets, etc. that are sent or delivered by means of the post office.’”  Id. at 1030 (citing Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language 864 (1989)).

This definition, which focuses on whether the item is “sent or delivered by means of the post office,” is consistent with how the term “mail” is used elsewhere under Arizona law.  For example, Rule 35(c)(1) of the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedure distinguishes between communications by mail and email.  Ariz. R. Protect. Ord. P. 35(c)(1) (“A limited jurisdiction court may allow contact by mail or e-mail to arrange parenting time . . . .”) (emphasis added).  Likewise, the Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure specify that “[a] party that serves documents on another party by mail in an expedited election appeal also must deliver the documents by electronic means, including email or facsimile, or as agreed to by the parties.”  Ariz. R. Civ. App. P. 10(h); see also Ariz. R. Civ. P. 5(c)(2)(C), (D) (distinguishing service by “mailing it” from service “by any other means, including electronic means”).  Further, in the Code of Judicial Administration, the term “notify” is defined to mean “written communication by mail, fax or email.”  Ariz. Code of Jud. Admin. § 6-211 (emphasis added).  The distinction between “mail” and “email” in the above rules would be superfluous if “mail” already encompassed email.  These authorities also show that, when delivery by email is permitted under Arizona law, Arizona authorities have expressly authorized it.

For purposes of the present question, our preliminary conclusion is that notice requirements elsewhere in Arizona law provide the best analogue to the requirement in A.R.S. § 16-824.  Those provisions illustrate that, where email notice is permitted, it is listed separately from “mail.”  This interpretation is also consistent with dictionary definitions and common usage as explained in Cachet Residential Builders.  For these reasons, notice by email appears insufficient to satisfy A.R.S. § 16-824. (emphasis added)

Tyler Bowyer

Tyler Bowyer

Given this official legal opinion, the Maricopa County Republican Party Bylaws are out of compliance with the law.  In that all GOP bylaws must be in compliance with both state law and the state party bylaws, any legislative district bylaws allowing email notification are also out of compliance with both Arizona Republican Party Bylaws and Arizona statute.

Today was the last day for elected precinct committeemen in Maricopa County to be properly noticed leaving the Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) ill-prepared to make right the serious error as Chairman Bowyer called chairs over the past few days encouraging them to utilize email notices.

It has been reported that several LD chairmen received calls today from AZGOP Chair Robert Graham informing them that the state party was abiding by statute and mailing the call despite this statutory obligation falling on the county party. This to ensure all PC’s are eligible to vote in the upcoming MCRC elections with a proper notification.

Additionally, the opinion also affects upcoming party elections at the state party level.

Jim O'Connor

Jim O’Connor

In Legislative District 23, where notice of their election was provided by email, the election of state committeemen would be invalid because the meeting was conducted illegally. Chairman Robert Graham notified former Chairman Jim O’Connor, who was responsible for the illegal action, to the error and offered the ability for a “do over”. The newly (and also illegally) elected chair replied and vehemently declined the “do-over,” ignoring of the law and asserting the LD23 bylaws allowed for email. Chairman Graham met with representatives from LD23 and attorneys to no avail, with LD23 holding firm on their decision to use email and declining a legally called election.

Unfortunately, a better understanding of the law would have benefited the PC’s in LD23.  The warning from Graham outlined the problem that would result from the ill-advised and illegally held meeting; that those elected as state committeemen would potentially not be seated or run for a party position as the election was not valid. Specifically, candidate Jim O’Connor, who made the decision to use the illegal method of notification, could be disqualified as a candidate for State Party Chairman.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham

The Solicitor General’s opinion affirms AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham’s assertion was correct, that districts such as LD23 that improperly noticed their precinct committeemen by email, were in violation of party bylaws and state statute all along.

With the State Republican Party Meeting and Election rapidly approaching, there is not enough time now for a “do-over” election leaving LD23’s illegally elected state committeemen potentially ineligible to vote. The legal remedy is for Chairman Graham to disregard the illegally called meeting results, seat an appointed contingent of committeemen from LD23, and hold the State Meeting according to statute and bylaw.

Party activists and officials must be aware of these important bylaws and statutes especially when they conduct the process of elections and seek higher leadership. Pushing a personal agenda by skirting the rules or making them up as you go is the not the upholding manner in which GOP leaders should conduct themselves.

 

I Was Wrong About The Election Of Donald Trump

Trump Victory

First, I must say I am very relieved that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. There certainly is a delicious pleasure in that victory.

Now, let me get the mea culpa out of the way.

Like many of my colleagues in the professional political consulting class, I was wrong about the election of Donald Trump.

Nearly every polls showed him losing – the pollsters were wrong.

Every time Donald Trump spoke, he polarized and divided groups of individuals. The public relations professionals were wrong.

Nearly every longtime Republican and conservative leader said he couldn’t win using his strategy. They were wrong.

I repeatedly said he needed to learn from the lessons of 2012 when it comes to millennials, women and minority groups and affirm their libertarian and conservative values. The leader of the Grand Old Party needs to pursue a mathematical strategy of addition and multiplication rather than subtraction and division if they want to grow the party. Apparently, there was some “new math” at work in this election.

During the last days of the election, I believed it came down which demographic groups would turn out for Donald Trump. Would women, Latinos and millennials overcome the intensity of angry, aging, white, blue-collar Americans? Donald Trump obviously heard the voices of the latter and hit a nerve.

Donald Trump managed to pull off one of the biggest political shocks in American electoral history and we, the political consulting class were wrong.

But while we may remain wrong on why Donald Trump got elected as our 45th President, we may very well be right about our earlier concerns.

Donald Trump has “caught the bus” and must now grasp the sobering reality of governance.

He must now surround himself with individuals who will help him with the gargantuan task of running the country. Those individuals will most likely come from the establishment. Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, Chris Christie – all longtime Washington insiders and dare I note, members of the very “Establishment” class Donald Trump publicly excoriated. Will Trump’s die-hard supporters give him a pass over these selections? (Queue up “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.)

There are also the thousands of executive staff Trump will need to replace. Will he pull from the thousands of individuals with Washington experience who work as lobbyists, hill staffers and interest groups to fill those positions? Or will he bring in new blood from the heartland? I believe the former. Do you see where I’m going with this?

If President Trump truly wants to be successful, he needs experienced talent and there’s really only one pool to pull talented individuals – the establishment.

Candidate Donald Trump promised an agenda to make America great again during the campaign. Can President Donald Trump deliver on those promises? I believe he’s going to find it harder than he expected.

Do we really believe President Trump will be able to build an impenetrable wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it? Will President Trump sign an executive order banning all Muslims from entering the country? Can we expect President Trump to tear up NAFTA in one swift move?

His establishment cabinet and advisers are about to tell him just how hard governing really is.

The reality is President Trump has nothing to fear from the political left. He’s survived that battle and won. The real threat to a Trump administration is from those who wanted to burn Washington down. We’re about to find out how assimilated Donald Trump will become to the swamp he wants to drain.

Ted Cruz may prove right about Donald Trump’s northeastern values and mid-westerners may not be happy.

There is much to be hopeful and excited about however.

Republicans now control Washington, DC. Let me say that again. Republicans now control the Executive and Legislative branches of government. This is huge!

President Trump and the Republican Congress have a critical time frame to accomplish as much as possible and that starts with securing as much of the Judicial branch of government as possible.

The first 100 days of a Trump Administration means cleaning up the mess from the last eight and even 16 years. The Republican congress finally has a President who will not veto a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They need to drop that bill on Day 1.

President Trump has other monumental tasks that he can single-handily accomplish: rescinding the hundreds of executive orders of Barack Obama; tearing up the Iran Deal; changing leadership and overhauling the VA; reigning in the powers of the many regulatory agencies, and restoring morale among the men and women of our military branches. It’s a lot to do and he should not meet any resistance from a Republican Congress. In this area, he not only needs to be assertive. President Trump needs to be aggressive.

Getting the “relatively easy” tasks done quickly will allow President Trump to focus on his more long-term and ongoing agenda such as restoring the courts; protecting religious freedom; repealing Dodd-Frank; reorienting energy policy; rebuilding the military; reforming immigration; improving national infrastructure and improving international trade relations.

Finally, President Trump needs to avoid picking fights with Congress over politics. There is no time to waste on grudges or personality conflicts. The American people want major action and no drama. These types of antics will only send the GOP down a box canyon where they will be massacred in the 2018 mid-term elections.

While I was wrong about the election of Donald Trump, I hope I’m not wrong about President Trump. Like many movement conservatives, I will remain steadfast on principles and policy and speak up when I believe his administration is wrong.

Donald Trump deserves our congratulations, prayers and well-wishes. He has been chosen to carry out the single-most powerful job in the world and we must support him as the leader of the free world.

Congratulations President-Elect Donald Trump.

 

Republicans Waging War In LD-28 – Against Fellow Republicans

Plenty of drama continues to unfold in Arizona’s 28th legislative district.

This time, Republican candidate Matt Morales delivers a robodial urging voters to only vote for Republican Mary Hamway.

There are two Republican candidates running against one Democrat in LD-28. Two seats, three candidates, two Republicans, one Democrat.

This should be easy.

But not in LD-28 where warring Republicans are urging a single-shot strategy because they assume a Democrat will win. It’s a complete rollover.

Now Matt Morales is a friend of ours but we cannot understand why he’s wrapped up in this every-woman-for-herself election strategy, especially if he plans to run for

Republicans should be holding tight and voting THE REPUBLICAN TEAM in LD-28 and not assuming the Democrat is going to win. These are real votes when it comes to passing a Republican agenda in the House. Every Republican vote helps.

Our reality is that we’re not big fans of Mary Hamway but when House leadership needs an “R,” they’re not gonna find it in a Kelli Butler.”

Republicans can elect center-right Republican Maria Syms and moderate Republican Mary Hamway in LD-28; Or, they can elect a Republican and a leftist Democrat to those two House seats. The result will be an easier legislative path or a harder legislative path. That’s the end game.

Our recommendation: More Republicans, less drama please.

 

Andy Biggs IS the Establishment

In case you missed it earlier today, Arizona Senator Andy Biggs tweeted that he would “take on DC establishment.”

[Audible: vinyl record scratching!]

Did we hear that correctly?

Anyone who has been around politics for any amount of time knows that Senator Andy Biggs has been in politics for 16 years. And, to further argue the point, Biggs has been the ultimate political insider in political backroom dealings.

2016 will be the year of outsiders, not career politicians.

If anyone can speak credibly about taking on the DC establishment, it won’t be someone from the establishment. And it won’t be Andy Biggs who has been the establishment for the last 16 years.

 

Say It Isn’t So, Joe

If this story is even partially true, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has finally jumped the shark.  Many conservatives around the state—and country—have held him up both as a hero in his law enforcement ardency and in his refusal to bow to the surrounding left-liberal commentariat and activists.  Over the past couple of years, he has made that job more difficult with some poor decisions, but now he is making it impossible.

Just last month he announced a new effort to go after street dealers of drugs, a la Giuliani and Bratton, including marijuana.  That is a good idea and did wonders for the Big Apple.  Knowing how problematic and crime-driving drug sales are, and how everything from marijuana to heroin is increasingly ending up in too many of our teens’ hands and brains, it is an even better idea for Arizona.   Now, however, he is a featured speaker at a fundraiser for a group supporting legalizing marijuana.  While the event seems to be billed as an educational event on how seniors can benefit from medical marijuana, the group sponsoring it is all over and all about legalizing recreational use as well, that is, legalizing marijuana.  And their promotional material seems to confuse those issues to boot.

People can have their opinions on this—we tend to side with the position that legalizing a product that more and more science is showing to be more and more potent is actually a bad idea.  We also note how marijuana legalization will actually be bad for law enforcement, generally, and how we can read by the week about new illegal grows and law enforcement seizures in places like Colorado and Washington where the black market is still thriving.  And we think it as close to horrific as can be that, yes, it’s still getting into the hands of our teens.

With all that said, just what is Sheriff Joe doing, and, moreover, what is he communicating?  We know from the Arizona Department of Health Services that “medical marijuana” is simply not something most seniors are interested in, with about five percent of such “card holders” being over the age of 71 (and the vast plurality of “card holders” being under forty).  Is the point to get more of them to use?  Is it to fundraise for legalization as the sponsoring group wants to do and issues reports on?

Sheriff Joe has had a long and noble career with both the DEA and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office—he should not be, at once, putting the brakes and accelerator on an issue he has committed his life toward, all the while sending mixed signals to our community, and helping fundraise for the opposite of what his Department says it is doing.  If he’s being used as a dupe, he should stop.  If he’s caving in on an issue he’s dedicated his career to, that’s another matter—but he should tell us clearly so we can all know just what it is he is up to.  And, if he’s simply not sure anymore, and jumped the shark, then he should resign.