Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AZGOP Executive Committee Report

Important Results from AZGOP Executive Committee Meeting
We had a long and productive AZGOP Executive Committee meeting this weekend. Even though you should be receiving reports at your next LD or County meeting from the members of the Executive Committee and your respective LD Chairmen, I wanted to make sure details of what we discussed and accomplished were shared.

The Executive Committee Members in attendance represented the vast majority of Arizona counties and every congressional district. Additionally, your Legislative District Chairmen were invited and nearly all of them attended. In short, the entire State Party was well represented. Below is an outline that summarizes the entire meeting.

If you have any questions regarding any of the outlined points, please do not hesitate to call or email me directly. My personal cell phone is 480-744-5442 and my email is robert.graham@azgop.org.

General Party Business and Information:
  • We reviewed and approved a budget and fundraising plan of $2.5 million that will help us prepare for victory in 2016. As with any goal-orientated budget we back into the expenses once we clearly understand what it takes to fund the operations of the party, which includes technology, community engagement, mail, events, office rent and overhead, labor, etc.
  • The committee received informative presentations regarding the Phoenix transportation tax on the August ballot and marijuana legalization initiative expected to be on the 2016 ballot. Both will be significant battles and it is imperative that we as the Republican base understand all points relating to both initiatives.
  • Corporation Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith updated the Committee on commission business and utility issues.
Congressional Redistricting:
  • Republican General Counsel, Tim La Sota, presented information about the congressional redistricting lawsuit and the upcoming decision by the US Supreme Court that we expect will favor us. He explained the steps following a ruling if and when ruled by the Court. He encouraged us to be ready for action in late May or early June. 
Home Owner Associations:
  • Next Tim La Sota addressed an ever-increasing problem with HOAs. Some HOAs are prohibiting petition signature gatherers or grassroots activists from going door-to-door in gated communities. La Sota drafted a letter that will posted on the AZ GOP website. The letter can be used if HOAs are prohibiting canvassing neighborhoods. Further to the point, if an HOA insists on stopping electioneering or canvassing we are prepared to support all members with legal action.
Election Reform Bills:
  • La Sota spoke about the bill signed into law this week by Gov. Ducey that levels the playing field for candidates by requiring all candidates, not just those from major parties, to obtain a similar amount of signatures. The abuse that had occurred was real, with candidates in the Libertarian Party needing as few as five signatures to qualify for election. This new law will helpful by leveling the playing field candidate election signature requirements.
  • Lastly, he addressed ballot harvesting prevention bill. The harvesting prevention bill did not make it through the process but we’ll continue our efforts to end ballot harvesting. Please contact your representatives and stress that Arizona voting should be One Ballot, One Vote. No harvesting will help to restore integrity to the entire voting process. 
2014 Victory Report:
  • Our Political Director, George Khalaf, gave a presentation on the exceptional work done by precinct committeemen, other volunteers and Victory Centers throughout the state for candidates. After careful analysis of the data collected for the 2014 cycle, we were able to show that the work done by the State Party and grassroots volunteers, created an 8.7% lift. This increase in votes helped candidates like Congresswoman Martha McSally and State Senator Sylvia Allen achieve victory this past November. George was also able to show that compared to the last 6 election cycles, the Republican slate held together better than anytime before. The work done on behalf of the entire Republican slate helped Republicans sweep all statewide offices, maintain majorities in both the House and the Senate and gain a majority in our Congressional delegation. Additionally, Republicans won countless races at the school board, city and town council, county and other levels. Great outcome for Republicans and the State of Arizona.
 Resolution to Close the Primaries:
  • Closing the Primaries - It is important to note, that the largest allocation of time on the agenda was set to discuss closing Republican primaries. Please note that when the discussion began…my opening statement and remarks throughout the discussion addressed the fact that the State Committeemen had passed a resolution to close the primary and it was our committee’s job to understand all of the moving parts and to find a solution, if possible, to make it happen. The majority of members of the committee thought is/was essential to understand the legal process, financial impact, legislative actions and/or ballot initiatives involved to actually close the primary elections.
  • Based on the resolution to close the primary that was passed January, and loose comments that have been circulating through emails and on various member community blogs, we presented the Committee with the research and legal advice we have compiled over the last two and a half months. The legal opinions were from four of the top state election attorneys. Three of the four attorneys are the same attorneys referenced by AJ LaFaro and the AFA Blog.
  • If you recall, the resolution asks both the legislature and the party to overturn a provision in the state constitution, specifically directing the Committee to file paperwork to close the primary.
1) Legislative Action:
The legislature has taken no action and has adjourned until 2016.
2) Lawsuit Option:
Many of us heard the case of the Libertarians closing the primary, and that it was just a matter of petitioning the court. What we learned, however, in our research and discussion which included several experienced elections attorneys as well as the attorney who fought to close the primary for the Libertarians, is that the effort would include significant research and the cost would range across the board…potentially in the hundreds of thousands to millions.
Furthermore, the majority of the attorneys who had written opinion letters to be shared with the Executive Committee mention a lawsuit of this type would be time consuming (up to 66 months), and that the outcome was uncertain or even unlikely to be beneficial.
Specifically, we heard the Republican Party would have extreme difficulty showing severe burden as the Libertarians. Simply stated the argument is different thus making the path to closing the primaries different. This does not shut the door to the resolution…it highlights the necessary approach and the potential cost and time involved.
3) Cost of Administering a Closed Primary:
The Secretary of State’s Office provided information regarding the likely costs to the AZGOP for a closed primary, with a typical statewide election costing about $10 million.
4) Motion to Fund a $75,000 to File the Suit to Close the Primary-Failed 
During the Executive Committee meeting a motion was made to spend up to $75,000 in legal fees to file suit to close the primary. After discussion the motion was defeated with a significant majority NO vote. After the motion failed, I asked the more than 75 attendees if anyone could or would join the fundraising committee, only two committee members volunteered to raise funds for the effort. This was after I asked three separate times.
5) Ballot Initiative – Change the State Constitution
Some members discussed amending the constitution with a ballot measure, and that’s certainly a possibility but ballot amendments are voted on by all registered voters, which included Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Green, American Elect. It was also discussed that a ballot initiative is probably not something that would be approved in a general election. The cost of such an effort was also discussed, with amounts in the millions of dollars considered.
County Chairman, National Committeeman and Committeewoman Reports:
  • Each county chair presented an update on their county activities for the past quarter, and National Committeeman and National Committeewoman reported on RNC issues.
Conclusion and Wrap-up:

Our meeting lasted nearly six hours and we accomplished a great deal, although many were disappointed to learn the significant and costly obstacles to close and administer the primary.

In conclusion, it is not just my hope by my promise that the party will continue to raise the necessary funds to win elections, field good candidates and provide the tools needed by our PCs and State Committee. We all worked very hard to turn out our voters in every election, and those efforts were fruitful in 2014 and set the stage for a huge GOP turnout in 2016. This is our time to register voters, build our ranks within the precincts and push forward onto victory.

I am proud to be part of the Executive Committee of the AZGOP and I thank each and every member who listened, spoke, acted and voted in good faith and in support of the party. 


Robert Graham

Maricopa County Republicans Has NOT received any compensation to post this information,it is a courtesy post