In a shocking demonstration of bipartisan unity and dispatch, an emergency bill radically altering party precinct representation was filed, passed both GOP-controlled legislative chambers and was signed by Republican Governor Douglas A. Ducey Jr., all on Thursday.
The new law is a direct assault on the Precinct Strategy, which encourages conservative voters to get involved in their local Republican Party by becoming precinct committeemen, said Daniel Schultz, author of the 2017 book “How to Get Into the Real Ball Game of Politics Where You Live to Help President Donald J. Trump Make America Great Again” and the creator of the strategy.
The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bower (R.-25th District), House Bill 2839, eliminates the ratio of the precinct committeemen from one for every 125 voters registered in a party to one precinct committeeman for every precinct regardless of the number of voters registered in a party, Schultz said.
The bill also changed the precinct committeeman position from an elected position to one appointed by the party’s county chairman, said the former Army military intelligence officer, who finished his service with the rank of major.
In the state House, the bill passed with 58 voting in favor, none opposed, and two not voting. In the state Senate, the bill passed with 27 votes in favor, none opposed, and three not voting.
Adding to the confusion and the suspicion about the law, was Section 5 of the legislation, it said:
Sec. 5. Emergency
This act is an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law.
“I am actually shocked,” Schultz said.
“When they first told me about this, I said: ‘Well, let’s read this first.’”
After reading the bill, the attorney and graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School said the bill does in fact wipe out hundreds of precinct committeeman positions across the state, and grant the county chairman authority to appoint the remaining positions.
“I am still flabbergasted,” he said. “I am crossing my fingers that I’m missing something.”
The Precinct Strategy takes advantage of the roughly 50 percent of 400,000 precinct committeemen slots now vacant, he said.
Of the 200,000 slots filled, they are split fairly evenly between conservatives and non-conservatives, Schultz said. When conservatives fill the empty slots, he said, they also take control of the local parties with a 75 percent majority.
The 1978 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said he cannot say if the new law is a direct assault on the Precinct Strategy in Arizona. “I don’t know, because nobody has stated what the motivations are. Nobody has stated what they are, but, it appears to be.”
Schultz said the numbers in Maricopa County tell the story.
“We had 7,467 potential precinct committeeman slots that could have been elected in the August 2020 primary, and we ended up electing about 2,729,” he said.
“In Maricopa County, that was based on 743 precincts,” he said. “If this law continues, we’re going to only have 743 precinct committeemen.”
“Maricopa County currently has about 58.9 percent, or 4,399, of its 7,467 quota filled in 743 precincts,” he said. “Seven hundred and forty-three is 16.9 percent of 4,399 and 10 percent of the 7,467 quota.”
There is one county in Arizona with 55 GOP precinct committeemen but other counties where there are no Republicans, so there are no precinct committeemen there, he said.
“Cochise County currently has all 284 of its 284 slots filled across its 49 precincts,” he said.
“Forty-nine is 17.3 percent of 284; in other words, Cochise County would go from 100 percent strength and 284 PCs down to 49, just 17.3 percent of its former self,” he said.
“That’s the worst part of it. They’re appointed with the complete, unfettered discretion of the current county chair,” he said. “The voters in each precinct have no say whatsoever except for maybe bribing the county chair — and that’s legal, actually, because these are not public offices.”
While the Precinct Strategy seeks to expand political engagement, the new emergency law virtually shuts down political engagement at the local level, where it is the most crucial, he said.
“Republican voters in each precinct right now have no say whatsoever because the whole idea of the Republican Party is that it’s democratic in the sense that the Republican Party wants the voters in each precinct in Arizona to elect through the primary system representatives in the party,” Schultz said.
“Now, 98 percent of the time, there isn’t a contested election because nobody even knows what a precinct committeeman is, hardly,” he said.
“I wish I had $1 for every person who said: ‘What’s a precinct committee? What are you talking about? What’s a precinct? I don’t know. Tell me what a precinct committee is?’ Nobody gets civics anymore in public school,” he said.
“Nobody knows how any of this stuff works, that’s why I wrote my book.”
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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network based in Washington. He is an Army Reserve public affairs NCO and an Iraq War veteran. Send him news tips: [email protected] Follow him on TruthSocial & GETTR: @ReporterMcCabe
Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Wars. CC BY 2.5.