Another AZGOP Exec. Comm. Member voices frustration with Graham

To: AZ GOP Chairman Robert Graham

cc: Members of the AZ GOP Executive Committee

It has been just over one week since the Executive Committee (EC) of the Arizona GOP met to conduct its business. I have had a chance to read some of the commentary on what became a marathon Executive Committee meeting of almost 6 hours. But upon reflection and based upon my desire for the Republican Party to succeed in the future after being very active in the Party for over 50 years, I feel it is my responsibility to report what I observed. The EC did a great disservice to the over 1300 State Committeemen who voted overwhelmingly for a Resolution to restore our closed primary system in partisan elections by filing a lawsuit with the Arizona Courts and working with the Legislature to pass new legislation.

In this marathon meeting, almost 2 hours was spent discussing this one agenda line item, Close Primary. Mr. Chairman, when we got to this agenda item you spent over 35 minutes discussing all the reasons why we “could not” file a lawsuit to restore our previously closed primary system. Then you opened up the floor for discussion. I realized later that we were mis-directed and forced to re-debate the issue. This discussion/debate in reality was “Out of Order”. We were not there April 18th to discuss the merits of filing a lawsuit, it had already been debated and discussed back on January 24th at the AZ GOP Statutory Meeting. At this Jan. 24th meeting the Resolution, after spending over half an hour of debate, was passed by an overwhelming majority of the State Committeemen (SC) present (1321 present in person or by proxy). Again, we the Executive Committee were given an order to execute an approved Party Resolution. We were to proceed with closing our Primaries in a two-fold approach, legislatively and by lawsuit. It was not our purview to re-debate, only to execute. I tried to do that. I am the member who made the motion to set aside $75K in our budget (3% of a $2.5M budget) to fund the lawsuit effort. I had mentioned to the body that there were two ways to do this: 1) either go over budget on the legal expense line item or 2) fund it as its own project. It was suggested to me to fund it separately so I made the motion. It failed to pass.

However, there was no plan on how to go back to the State Committeemen, the party members that elected all of us, on why we were not going to do what they directed us to do back in January. The Resolution passed was to close our primaries. This must be dealt with, not kicked down the road or ignored. I believe that each of us has a responsibility to the SC’s who elected us, in my case the SC’s from CD4. They overwhelmingly supported the Resolution. We still have a problem with non-Republicans voting in our Primaries that was not even addressed at the EC mtg. All we heard were reasons why we could not file a lawsuit.

Before I make a couple of recommendations, I must share a few more comments. We were told that the Libertarian Party lawsuit is different than the one we would file. The Libertarian Party was able to explain severe burden or risk, that their election results could be skewed by Independents voting in their primaries. I agree. But that has also started to happen in our Republican Primary. Just look at the 2014 Republican Primary results for State Senate in LD25. The winning Republican candidate won by 1646 votes. The number of Independents who voted in that election was 4316, more than enough to influence and determine the winner. Add to this the fact that over $500K was spent on electioneering in that State Senate Republican primary and its not hard to conclude that big money could also influence Independent voter participation in our Primaries. Remember, there are 24 other LD’s that have Independent voter registration within 10% of the total Republican registration in those districts. So I believe we will see more elections where Independent voters determine who wins in our primaries.

Another point about Independent Voters involved in the Republican Party’s Political business. Less we forget, it was just the ONE INDEPENDENT member of the Independent Redistricting Committee who decided the election boundaries for all 30 legislative districts and 9 congressional districts in Arizona. How did that work out for fairness to Republicans!

I can also imagine that the members of the Libertarian Party are sure glad that their leaders didn’t come to the same conclusions about fighting open primaries that the leadership of the Arizona Republican Party has displayed. Can you picture what some of the discussions were like back in 2002 when the Libertarian Party debated whether to go to court:

We Libertarians can’t go to court to fight the Arizona Constitution, it will cost us millions!

It will take years to deliberate with no guarantee of success.

And who will pay for our primaries if we shut out the Independents; we will have to pay for our own primaries!

We need to form a Fundraising Committee to pay for this expensive court action, but there are only 27,000 registered Libertarians across the whole state of Arizona!

We may have a case of severe burden on our Primary results, but again, we would be going against the Arizona Constitution and who can win a court case against a Constitutional law?

Why file a court action anyway to close the Libertarian Party Primary, we will never win!

It is time Mr. Chairman, for all of us as the AZGOP Executive Committee to provide the leadership we were elected to provide by properly responding to the Resolution of the State Committeemen and proceed with a legislative action plan as well as a legal action plan to protect our Republican Primary selection process with closed primaries. I offer my help in that endeavor. Remember, Democrats file lawsuits all the time against Arizona laws and have a great batting average.

I have fought for the Republican Party and what it stands for and will continue to do so. And in case you chose not to proceed with an appropriate response to the party members, then I would like to be appointed to the next Bylaws committee that reviews the Continuing Bylaws of the Arizona Republican Party. Either we need to remove the ability of passing Resolutions as a Party because they are not followed through by the Chairman and the Executive Committee or the Resolutions section needs to be revised so that it is clear that Resolutions are binding on the Party and require regular updates to the Party until they are enacted upon and completed.


Don M. Ascoli

Member At Large CD4

AZ GOP Executive Committee

Background reading:

April 18, 2015: Republican PCs threatened with arrest at AZ GOP HQs & UPDATE  First person accounts of April 18, 2015 AZ GOP newly closed executive meeting by LD 28 PCs. It garnered  63 comments from readers.

April 13, 2015: A.J. LaFaro dispels Robert Graham’s myth on closing Primary

April 5, 2015: Need more proof of McCain chokehold on AZGOP?  Robert Graham closing meeting to elected Precinct Committeemen, shutting down information flow

7 Responses to Another AZGOP Exec. Comm. Member voices frustration with Graham

  1. Arizona Conservative Guy says:

    Yes, there’s frustration but more to the point there is raw anger. Conservatives have finally caught on to the fact that Robert Graham is not the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. In truth he is the front man for the establishment masters worshipping at the feet of John McCain. Doing the bidding of the amnesty devotees at the Chamber of Commerce is what this is all about.

    The CofC is headed by Glenn Hamer a former aide to Jon Kyl and Matt Salmon. He left his post as Executive Director of the AZ GOP and went directly to the Chamber job where his first act was to endorse liberal Democrat Janet Napolitano for Governor. There is no honor among thieves.

    And guess who’s among the list saturated with McCain acolytes on the Chamber Board of Directors? Doug Yonko of Cindy McCain’s “Hensley Beverage Company“? Kyl and McCain confidant Steve Twist is onboard the Board.

    The Board of Directors also features lawyer Kory Langhofer who sues conservatives at the drop of a sombrero.

  2. State Delegate says:

    Bravo Don Ascoli !! You speak for many of us. A sincere thank you for your efforts both longtime for the AZ GOP and in writing this powerful letter to Robert McGraham….which he will unfortunately disregard since he doesn’t represent us.

  3. LD 23 PC says:

    Graham is a slick salesman who sold himself to the state committeemen as something he is not: A conservative. We were hoodwinked, tho we have no one to blame but ourselves. This is his second term after all.

  4. Seen It All says:

    I was in attendance at the Jan. 2015 state meeting when Graham, waiting until the ballots had been placed in the tabulating machines but not yet counted, pulled a fast one on the state delegates. He cleared the auditorium and then snuck John McCain, Jeff Flake and a contingent of Vietnamese, waving not American flags but VIETNAMESE FLAGS.

    McCain and Flake were loudly booed. Many in attendance walked out, others turned their backs on the loathsome trio (McCain, Flake and their colluding partner Robert Graham.) Watch from about one minute into video past the opening address by Rev. CT Wright. Whatever cheers you hear are from the balcony where his Vietnamese supporters were. The state delegates continued walking out.

  5. Former GOP PC says:

    This is why I left the Republican Party after working my butt off as a precinct committeeman for nearly three decades. I started a chapter of Young Republicans in college! Sorry to say I’ve had my fill of the outright lies perpetrated by first class liars. There is actually no current statewide or Maricopa County office holder I trust to stay the conservative course. They all have a personal agenda that doesn’t include me or mine.

  6. azgary says:

    While I greatly appreciate Mr. Don M. Ascoli and his efforts it will fall on deaf ears, graham does not care what any of us think.

    McCain does not care what we think.

    Flake does not care what we think.

    the az five does not care what we think.

    the governor doesn’t care what we think.

    the brewercrats, or I guess now they would be ducycrats do not care.


    They know they are part of the machine as incumbents captured by the system and the azgop/rnc will do anything they can to keep their puppets in power, exactly why graham wants to continue to let reregistered democrats vote in REPUBLICAN primaries.

    They know if they win a primary, there will be enough “lesser of two evils” votes to get them reelected, so they don’t care how much they offend or harm us, the state and the nation.

    nothing will change unless graham is removed, an actual conservative elected (as a start) and that will not happen, the powers that be will not let it, at least until after 2016 and flakey and McCain are reelected.

    But Mr. Ascoli, Thank You for putting yourself out there and taking the chance of retribution against you by the azMcgop, and little Robbie graham, too bad all that voted for closed primaries will not stand tall and take to task those who view the desires of the backbone of the party with contempt and the back of their hand the way you have.

  7. Hagar says:

    Lest any forget, the “independent” member of the redistricting committee was married to a Democrat Party operative.Why didn’t the Republican Party fully vet her and object to her? Asleep at the switch as usual.