Propelled by a massive show of support at Arizona’s Republican statutory day-long Saturday meeting, Dr. Kelli Ward, a Trump-supporting conservative easily secured the party’s top leadership post.
Ward, a physician and former two-term state senator, addressed the jubilant crowd following the announcement of the vote totals. Having traveled the state as a U.S. Senate candidate, she secured a loyal following, trouncing incumbent chairman Jonathan Lines by over a hundred votes cast by elected state committeemen. Doyel Shamley, unknown outside of Navajo County also entered the race, receiving only 65 votes.
incumbent chairman Lines running for reelection had an uphill battle after presiding over numerous losses of previously held Republican elected offices in the November 2018 election.
Following the vote, a petulant Lines abruptly left the meeting of 1,236 assembled state committeemen who traveled from every statewide county. He reportedly had to be cajoled into returning via a phone call exchange with the previous chairman Robert Graham.
Congressmen Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and David Schweikert addressed the crowd, as did Congresswoman Debbie Lesko who spoke from D.C. on a video hookup. Newly appointed U.S. Senator Martha McSally, grossly misjudged the crowd as she spoke warmly of the “leadership of Jonathan Lines.”
Gov. Doug Ducey, who also spoke in support of Lines, summed up the feelings of many attendees, with this understatement, “Like you, I was disappointed that we fell short in some of the races.”