Lisa James’ Staff Takes Shape (UPDATED)

 UPDATE: Several comments have pointed out that the 2004 results were improperly referenced, when Knaperek’s defeat by Harry Mitchell was in 2002.  That, and the percentage differential, have both been corrected.  There was also a dispute over whether Kevin Gibbons contributed money to Knaperek’s campaign, so we have linked to Knaperek’s own FEC report so that you can see the contribution.  Her entire list of contributors is here.  It is sorted by last name so you can find the contribution easily enough.  Finally, our information and post is sourced from multiple sources and we have presented it as what we were hearing, which is that Knaperek will be Lisa James’ new ED.  Interestingly, the editors note that was inserted at the end of this post does not contain any sort of denial from the James campaign regarding this potential hire, merely the claim that nothing final has been decided.


Likely feeling the momentum from several high-profile endorsements, including U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and incoming Secretary of State Ken Bennett, it appears that Lisa James is starting to settle on staff members for her term as State GOP Chairman.  Word at the Capitol is that former State Representative and one-time State Senate and U.S. Congressional candidate Laura Knaperek will be hired as Executive Director of the party.

Knaperek’s supporters say that she is generally regarded as a conservative who has run and won before.   Without specifically saying what expertise Knaperek would bring to the job, they pointed out that she has been a candidate at the local and federal levels and she did raise around $150,000 for her Congressional campaign.

Her detractors point to many of these same races as negatives rather than positives.  They point out that Knaperek was into the CD5 race early yet she barely out-raised former State Rep Mark Anderson ($130,000) and was crushed by both Susan Bitter-Smith and eventual nominee David Schweikert both in fundraising and at the polls.  They point to her 2002 drubbing by Harry Mitchell (Mitchell won by nearly 9 points in the then GOP-leaning district), and then her 3rd-Place finish in the State House race in 2006 when she was again running in a GOP-district for a seat she had held for 8 years.  They point out that many of her Congressional contributors were open-border advocates like Kevin Gibbons who ran a nasty and unsuccessful challenge to now State Senator Russell Pearce.  And they are especially concerned that Knaperek relied on Nathan Sproul as a consultant for her Congressional race.

“It is basically a return of the same folks who spent a ton of money in 2006 and got killed.” said one party insider, who added “James and Sproul got more than $400,000 from the State Party in 2006 and all we got in exchange was lost Congressional and Legislative seats.  No thanks.  I’ve seen this movie and I know how it ends.”

No word yet on other potential staff hires, but they are likely to wait until after the actual votes are counted on Saturday.

[Editors Note: Sonoran Alliance has contacted the Lisa James campaign and has confirmed that no staffing decisions have been determined or decided should Lisa James be elected Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.]


  1. Oh crikies, why is it always this same small group of folks trying to get or keep control? Is it just about the money?

  2. I am proud to say that Jon Kyl and Jeff Flake are the benchmark and our true conservative Republican leaders. They endorsed Lisa James and I will vote for her Saturday. We need Lisa James as the chair. Russell Pearce, Sherrif Joe, Andrew Thomas and Randy Pullen are ruining our party.

  3. Veritas Vincit says

    Laura is GOP Lite; We don’t need more re-runs.

  4. Veritas Vincit says

    to comment #2 above;

    “… Jon Kyl …the benchmark and our true conservative Republican leaders.”

    How much of the purple-koolaid have you had?
    You’re either on his staff and he’s asked you to put some spin in this room; or you’re completely off the page.

  5. Laura for ED? says

    This would be the most unspeakably bad choice in party history.

    Is there any evidence whatsoever that Laura has had any campaign experience, other than her own occasionally successful local races? How does that translate to a knowledge of messaging, polling, field operations on a grand scale, fundraising, personnel management, and communications? How did she learn to defend a US Senate seat, a governor, to pick up Congressional seats?

    Think of how many legislators have won even more races than her. You would not consider for one second putting them in charge of the party.

    I am a state committeeman who will be bringing multiple proxies to the state meeting. If Lisa does not publicly repudiate this rumor (and I hope that’s all this is), I don’t see how I can vote them for her. At least Brett Mecam has worked on a campaign before.

  6. GOP Boomer Gal says

    Hmmm. More Republicans in our State Legislature…and that is ruining our party…. how???

    The people ruining our party are the ones who want to continually divide us by not supporting our leadership.

    Let’s all unite against the Socialists in DC and STOP the fighting within our party.

  7. Home Town Girl says

    By now the pattern has been so clear that every time most of the Pullen supporters post, it is making the message of a need for change clear as day!

    Call names, distort reality, just plain ol’ make things up! Attack true GOP faithful just because they are on the wrong side of an intra-party race. “Fear them…they are bad people” garbage with no facts to back it up.

    The very thing so many were warning about when Pullen ran the first time was the real concern that this very behavior would rule the day and the party. And it has. And it will if he is re-elected.

    GOP-lite…give me a break! Knaperek is pro-life, has a record as a tax cutter, school-choice advocate, and as dedicated as they come BUT…she doesn’t think Pullen is the answer to the future of our party. So, throw that all out and discredit her past record to suit your current need. Who knows if that post has any merit or not, but the rapid rabid attack tells more of a story.

    If you think this attitude and behavior is the way to victory and majority, vote for Pullen. BUT if you know it is a recipe for defeat, failure, divisiveness, and a Democratic controlled blue Arizona…vote for Lisa James!

  8. H T Girl,

    Is ‘none of the above’ running – because from what I can figure out, you don’t like Pullen or James?

  9. We can all speculate on the choice however, as of right now it’s a rumor. Is it not?

    I haven’t seen a statement from Lisa James as to the selection of any staff. Please correct me if I’m wrong…

  10. Just The Facts says

    I hate to let the facts spoil a good smear story about two good Republicans, but most of the significant information contained in this post is flat out wrong.

    First, Knaperek ran against Mitchell in 2002 not 2004 (as this post claims0 in the newly formed district 17 (post-redistricting). Previously, Knaperek had represented district 27. District 27 was much more Republican than the newly formed 17.

    District 17 was drawn as a competitive district but has become a sold Dem district for most of the decade.

    Knaperek lost by 8.8% to Mitchell in 2002 and not 22% like this post claims. Another candidate lost by 22% in 2004. It is all on the Secretary of State website.

    Furthermore, Knaperek ran in 2004 for the House seat and was able to win. True, she lost it in 2006, but no other Republican has come close since her 2004 win. District 17 is solid Democrat.

    This is really shoddy writing designed to hurt Knaperek and James. Personally, I find it unlikely that James has made any staffing commitments.

    It is fine to have a spirited discussion about the merits of the race, but this post doesn’t serve SA well at all.

  11. Just The Facts says

    Oh, one more thing, according to, no one named Kevin Gibbons gave any money to federal candidates during the 08 cycle. Contrary to this post, it appears that Gibbons did not give money to Knaperek.

    If the Republic wrote a story this badly, there would be howls from this blog and rightfully so. SA really should police itself much better.

  12. Results Matter says

    Look, personalities aside (and they should be in a race like this), results matter most. James is always talking about how she ran the Victory program in 2006 and Randy is always talking about how he ran the Party in 2008. Both of the them implicitly take the credit for any successes and each of them is given the blame for any failures. I’m not sure the the Party Chairman deserves all the blame and credit any more than the Victory Chairman deserves all the blame and credit, but the differences in results are striking.

    Republicans got killed in Arizona in 2006. Our incumbent U.S. Senator hung on for a close win thanks to a State Party that basically ignored every other race to save his. Naturally, that U.S. Senator is now endorsing Lisa James. But the State Party lost the open CD8 seat by bailing on Randy Graf for being conservative, then they lost the Hayworth seat in CD5 in spite of incumbency and a GOP-district. They also took a beating at the Legislature, keeping the GOP in the majority in name only thanks to Hershberger, Mason, Reagan, and their ilk, who handed effective control to Napolitano.

    In 2008, Republicans lost CD1, a DEM district held by Renzi who was under indictment. As with CD8 in 2006, the national party threw in the towel on this race before it really got going. But the GOP won the state for McCain, and they restored our GOP majorities at the Legislature, improving both the quality and the quantity of those majorities.

    Now I keep hearing about fundraising, but all I can gather is that James had phenomenal resources at her disposal when she got her butt kicked in 2006, while Randy had to pinch pennies to win in 2008. Folks, that’s nothing but a giant endorsement of Pullen. You don’t get rid of a guy who can do more with less in favor of someone who can’t do much, even with a lot. In 2006 James had lots of national money come into Arizona to help, while in 2008 Arizona was not considered a battleground state and Pullen had to do without. And he still won races.

    Imagine what he could do with the funding that Arizona will be getting in 2010? If 2006 is any guide, and James wants us to use it when it helps her, James will likely lose races, no matter how much money she’ll have. Especially if she’s gonna go back to throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at Nathan Sproul and his ilk.

    If 2008 is any guide, Pullen will win even bigger, and that can only be good news for the GOP.

  13. Sonoran Alliance says

    Sonoran Alliance has contacted the Lisa James campaign and has confirmed that no staffing decisions have been determined or decided should Lisa James be elected Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

  14. At least Knaperek is from AZ. Funny how the anti-capitalist Pullen crowd would demand that corporations keep jobs in America, instead of sending them overseas, but they dont mind out-sourcing key AZ party positions to people from all over the country (mostly DC). I guess when you dont have any local talent that you can mind control, you need to cast a net far and wide to find someone.

  15. Maricopa PC says

    Maximus- Right you are. Brett Mechum is from New York.

    I’m sure that this is all a rumor mill from the Pullen crowd grasping at straws. Suddenly Brett Mechum has more credibility and experience than a Knaperek? No, not at all.

    And Veritas, I’ll take you to task on calling Mrs. Knaperek GOP-Lite. Hardly, in any way shape or form. Care to point to any policies or voting decisions? I don’t think that you can, because you’d much rather throw stones and stir the pot than actually write about anything substantial.

    I am proud that Lisa James has earned the endorsement of Senator Kyl, and our Republican leadership whom I’ve worked hard at knocking doors and making phone calls to elect. We are the grassroots who have helped elect them, and their endorsements send a strong statement.

  16. The “Pullen did more with less” is really a lame argument. He didn’t “do” anything. He failed to register voters, didn’t commit to an early ballot program, or raise money to spend on behalf of candidates.

    The only reason this year wasn’t a disaster was McCain at the top of the ticket. Pullen taking credit for McCain carrying the state is like taking credit for the sun coming up.

  17. Liberal Democrat says

    Laura Knaperek was rejected by 84% of Republican voters in her disastrous congressional primary last September, and she lost to a couple of kids when she ran for re-election to the state legislature in 2006. Please, please, please put her in charge of the state GOP!

  18. I would take Knaperek any day over Mecum!

  19. Home Town Girl says

    Hey ron… sorry if I gave the impression I was not supportive of Lisa James. The misinformation and continual debate over the adequate credentials to be called “conservative enough” by Pullen supporters has made me dizzy.

  20. Veritas Vincit says

    RE: post #7 Hometown gal…and
    post #15 Maricopa PC:

    I think if you’ll check the records, Laura had a significant role in the first round of the Marriage Initiative and lost it. The only state that year to have a marriage initiative defeated nationally was Arizona -with Laura at the helm of that campaign.

    Her performance against Mitchell was lackluster.

    As I said, GOP Lite. When you can’t win a Marriage Initiative to Kirsten Sinema, you don’t deserve the helm of the AzGOP.

    Is that substantial enough for you?

    Folks, I’m not advocating either candidate. What I am pointing out is the obvious: GCJPR has done a lot of business with the previous DC administration and many of the Az Delegation – and that’s the power behind Lisa’s candidacy.

    Kyl and McCain are ‘old school’ and to win back the House, the GOP needs to be ‘new school’.

    Start looking for leadership outside the sorry worn out big tent for a change and maybe we’ll win again.

    You want more Republican voters?
    Change the product
    Don’t just “make-over” the box!

  21. Asked and answered by Post #13 above.

    As Master Shifu repeated under the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom in the cinematic classic Kung Fu Panda…”inner peace.”

  22. Veritas Vincit says

    The voter field to harvest are registered independents. But first, you have to have a product to bring them back to the republican party. Again, a “Make-Over” as Lisa suggests just doesn’t cut it.

  23. Results Matter says

    According to Knaperek’s own FEC report, Kevin Gibbons gave her money. I’m not sure what that is supposed to mean, and I think the writer was wrong when he/she put 2004 instead of 2002 for her loss to Mitchell, but the FEC website does confirm the Gibbons donation. Don’t know how to post links or pdfs to this site, or I would do so. So the writer didn’t get it 100% and those offering critiques didn’t get it 100% either.

  24. So why does any of that matter…this whole story was a rumor.

  25. 11th Commandment says

    This post is dispicable. It’s not only irrational, but the lies and ignorance is only surpassed by the viciousness. This is all about defending Randy Pullen. This is telling and I hope people are paying attention. The statistics are wrong, but even if they were honestly or innocently misquoted, the evil intent is obvious by the tone and irrationality. I am calling on Randy Pullen to denounce this nonsense. We’re waiting and watching.

  26. Veritas Vincit says

    AzRed, yup… just as Oscar Says. On the other hand – everyone here was staying on topic and, that’s a good thing.

    What happened is the James folks ‘leaked’ out this story to ‘run her up the old flagpole’ and see who’d salute.

    It worked. Laura’s off the short list.

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