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Arizona Republicans Are at War with Each Other

Maricopa County, AZ, Republicans want to opt out of the state's government-run primary and hold their own one-day, in-person-only election on March 19, 2024. It would use paper ballots only and they would be hand-counted. Under state law, parties can opt out, but then they have to pay for the election themselves. The battle is tearing the state party to pieces. The state party chairman, Jeff DeWit, says that the state party, which is nearly broke, doesn't have the money, manpower, or infrastructure to run an election for an estimated 1.4 million eligible voters.

The battle pits the hard-line Trumpists (who don't trust the state to run elections, hate early voting, and despise absentee voting) against those who accept Trump's loss and want to move on. Craig Berland, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, is one of the hard-liners. He said: "The actions taken by the MCRC are in solidarity with President Donald J. Trump, who has been persecuted, arrested and indicted for taking the very same positions." Actually, Trump has not taken a position on the MCRC plan. But the RNC definitely noticed it and doesn't like the plan at all. Pretend-Arizona-governor Kari Lake supports the MCRC plan and has talked to Trump about it, but so far he has not weighed in. His close aide, Susie Wiles, has said that Trump does not plan to state a position on the proposal.

The MCRC plan runs counter to the new RNC position on early voting. For several years the RNC was against it, but the current view is "Why give the Democrats 30 days to vote and our people only 1 day?" The reality in Arizona is that early voting is very popular, with the vast majority of votes being cast before Election Day, many of them by absentee ballot.

Late Friday, the Republican state party voted down the MCRC proposal and agreed to a state-run primary. This doesn't mean that Berland et al. are going to say: "OK, you won, we're with you on this now." The infighting will continue. Meanwhile, the Democrats are fine with a state-run primary and have agreed to it with no arguments. (V)

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