2006 was a bad year for the Republican party in Arizona. Arizona was one of three states west of the Mississippi river where the GOP lost multiple seats in Congress (the other two were Texas and Iowa). Governor Napolitano and Attorney General Goddard were re-elected by huge margins. Hardliner Len Munsil got absolutely crushed in the Governor's race. And in the legislature the GOP lost six house seats and one in the Senate. Symptomatic of their problems were their steadfast insistence on nominating hardliners. Anti-immigration hardliner Randy Graf lost big to Gabrielle Giffords in the race for an open seat in Congress, after Graf had beaten out two more moderate Republicans in the primary, and in house district 26 the hardline conservatives in the GOP kicked out two moderate Republicans in their primary in order to nominate two hardliners from what can be considered the 'nutbag right,' and ended up with two Democrats instead (here in Arizona legislative districts are represented by two house members and one senator).
One would think that given the disastrous performance of hardline candidates and their issues (even the gay marriage amendment failed here in Arizona) that some common sense would prevail in the party and that members of the GOP would realize that if they want to win in the next round of elections they need to nominate candidates who are more palatable to the voters.
One would think that, but one would be wrong.
Last week they picked ultra hard-liner Randy Pullen as their party chair. It seems as if they have it in their mind that the harder to the right they run, the better it will go for them. They seem to think that if they control the party apparatus of the party with the larger number of registered voters then they will run the state. Only they are wrong. Republicans are overall a diminishing minority in Arizona (the real growth has been among registered independents) and it is hard to see how candidates of the type that a Randy Pullen would support would be very appealing to most independents (or for that matter to a lot of moderate Republicans-- remember that Janet Napolitano got the votes of a third of all the Republicans who voted on election day-- so one out of three Republicans would prefer a competent Democrat to a hardliner like Munsil.)
And the staff at the state GOP is voting with their feet. the paid staff has resigned. They'd rather start sending out resumes than work for Randy Pullen.
It is hard to think of anything other than a guy with his foot on the accelerator thinking only of getting ahead, while the parts of the car are falling out behind him.
Should be an interesting election cycle.