Arizona Republican Party Rejects Bid to Close Primary

By Christopher Herring

During a contentious debate, the Arizona Republican Party’s executive committee rejected a proposal to close future primaries to independents.

Although there are good faith arguments in favor of limiting participation to Republicans only, the perception, and most importantly, the financial cost, outweighed any potential benefits.

In 1998, voters approved a measure that allowed independents to vote in the primary of any recognized party. Now part of the Arizona Constitution, the law initially conceived by a Republican controlled legislature, would likely be defended by the Arizona’s Attorney General’s office, greatly increasing the financial cost and risk to an already budget strapped political cycle where every dollar counts.

A significant obstacle to the party is the notion that Republicans support the rule of law and the Arizona Constitution. Suing the state to not administer its constitution isn’t the best headline for the party. Another significant challenge would be that the state party would have to show a severe burden is caused by independents voting in Republican primaries. Specifically that independents voting changed the ideological outcomes of elections in a manner significant enough to overturn the will of the voters to keep the primary open. In the most recent elections, independents have not voted in high numbers in party primaries and the case can be made that Arizona Republicans are more conservative than they have ever been on fiscal and social issues. Proving a severe burden would be a large task for the party’s attorneys.

In fact, every scenario discussed to close the primaries were fraught with risk. Whether it was a lawsuit, assuming the financial obligation of administering the entire primary, or funding a lawsuit to close the primary, the cost would be shouldered by all Republicans with no guarantee of success and a likelihood of failure.

The singular criticism surrounding the partially open primary is the moderating effect it creates on Republican elections. Although independents are growing in America and in Arizona, Republicans continue to enjoy a significant voter registration advantage over the Democratic Party and continue to hold onto every major statewide elected office. Judging by the lack of moderate or liberal Republicans holding statewide offices, it is difficult to prove that the small number of independents are gaming the Republican primary.

If there is a real fear in closing the primary outside of costs, it is alienating Arizona’s right leaning independents. In fact, as independents continue to grow, the Republicans cannot simply ignore their growing influence but must be continually active in persuading them that their principles are aligned with traditional party beliefs. Many independents describe themselves as conservatives but simply don’t want the label of Republican.

The state executive committee made the right call to not divert resources away from the continued march of winning elections and enacting conservative policies by embarking on long and expensive lawsuits with no guarantee of success. Arizona’s Republican Party consists of a diverse group of voters, fighting for conservative principles that make our lives better every day. The Party, under the leadership of Robert Graham, should continue to focus on what it is doing well, winning short term victories and building long term relationships to enhance the Republican brand in Arizona.

Christopher Herring is the President of the Maricopa County Young Republican Professionals and member of the Arizona Republican Party Executive Committee.

Scott Bartle avoids questions on Medicaid expansion, Common Core

Reposted from Arizona Daily Independent

By Diego Moya

Scott BartleArizona Senate candidate Scott Bartle attended Saturday’s meeting of the Republican precinct committeemen in Legislative District 11 (LD11). Bartle, who is challenging Senator Steve Smith, had few answers for the large crowd at an Oro Valley library.

Bartle, owner of InMaricopa.com, initially ran for the House but changed his mind and is now shooting for the Senate. He is currently a member and was the former president of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

The engaged precinct committee members asked Bartle the same questions that are being asked of all hopeful candidates these days: 1) Would you have supported Medicaid expansion? 2) Will you support Common Core?

With sly cunningness and the moves of a square dancer, Bartle danced around the topics. Bartle said he opposed any federal expansion of programs, but declared his stand on Medicare expansion.

While it is widely understood that Bartle is a strong proponent of Common Core, he refused to say whether he supported it in Arizona.

Bartle refused to answer a pointed question about who supported his campaign, specifically his donors and handlers.

Perhaps it is his desire for privacy that led Bartle to keep his opinions to himself. He said, “I am not so naïve and selfish, or maybe it is because I am selfish, but I got other demands on my time that I would not be pursuing this if I didn’t feel comfortable that there was an opportunity to win. I am more of a sit in the back row type of guy. I am not comfortable with having my face plastered on billboards and that sort of thing but I know that comes with the territory.”

According to the Arizona Auditor General’s report, under Bartle’s leadership the Maricopa Unified School District earned a “C” grade overall from the Arizona Department of Education, with 3 of its 10 schools earning a “D” grade. The District’s administrative costs/spending is considered high compared to other districts in the State with only 47% of its dollars making their way into the classrooms (To read the Arizona School District Spending (Classroom Dollars) Fiscal Year 2012, click here).

While Bartle may know what comes with the territory, voters can only guess what comes with Bartle’s territory based on his performance at the helm at MUSD.

The candidates for the two LD 11 House seats include Vince Leach and Mark Finchem.

Proposition 121 Corrupts Arizona’s Election System

Well before Election Day, voters throughout Arizona need to get the message that Proposition 121 is a hoax, a major fraud designed to convince citizens that the measure will open the political system to more candidates and voters.

Mislabeled the Open Elections Open Government initiative, the measure does the exact opposite. It is the Closed Elections Closed Government initiative. Arizona voters must not be fooled.

A close look at Proposition 121 reveals a cynical scheme that will eliminate voter choice, foster political corruption and advance extremists by abolishing party primaries and eventually destroy political parties themselves.

Proponents of 121 want to hijack the political system so they can elect candidates of their own choosing and take candidate selection out of the hands of the voters. Unable to compete in the primary system as it exists, they propose an end to the system that has served voters well for decades.

The proposition would abolish party primaries and establish one primary open to all candidates and all voters. The top two finishers in the primary would face off in the general election. Party identification by candidates would be optional.

That is the real flaw in Proposition 121. Voters would have no way to verify the accuracy of  a candidate’s party identification. With no party primary system to verify candidate identification, the system would be open to sham candidates hand picked and financed by special interests out to fool the voters.

What is worse, millions of voters could be left with no choice in a general election if the top two primary finishers represented the same party. With nowhere to turn on Election Day, voter turnout would plummet as citizens would simply give up and stay home.

This already has happened in California where there will be 28 elections this fall with no voter choice due to top two primaries.  Contrary to top two primary advocates, voter turnout was not up in the state’s June primaries and the primaries did not produce more so-called moderate candidates.

Under Proposition 121, candidates with extreme views easily could manipulate their way into a general election. Voters need only recall how the top two system in Louisiana once produced a run off between a candidate with a history of KKK leadership and a corrupt politician who was convicted and went to jail.

Proposition 121 would give political insiders and unscrupulous consultants the vehicle they want to corrupt the candidate selection process. Special interests would pour millions into primaries to elect sham candidates.

The voters need clear choices. They need confidence in the honesty of candidate identity. They need protection against corruption in the election process.

The party primary system provides these safeguards. Proposition 121 destroys them. The measure should be soundly defeated on Election Day.