Dr. Kelli Ward Reelected to a Second Term as Arizona Republican Party Chair
Dr. Kelli Ward was re-elected to a second term as the chair of the Arizona Republican Party on Saturday, with precinct committeemen and women narrowly voting to keep Ward in place. The physician and former Arizona State Senator had the benefit of President Donald Trump’s endorsement.
Ward narrowly won reelection 51.5% to 48.5% in a runoff election, defeating challenger Sergio Arellano. Arellano congratulated Ward on her victory and pledged to work on behalf of Arizona Republicans for victory in the 2022 midterm election.
The last two election cycles have proven difficult for Arizona Republicans. The state’s Republican Party, once dominated by establishment operatives loyal to Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, has faced renewed competition in a once-reliably red state with a rapidly changing demographic and population model. Ward took over from Jonathan Lines after the 2018 election.
Republican Martha McSally was appointed to a Senate seat by Governor Doug Ducey, even after losing the Senate 2018 election to Kyrsten Sinema. McSally was again defeated by Mark Kelly in the 2020 election, giving the state two Democratic Senators. Some have speculated that President Donald Trump would’ve secured a narrow victory in Arizona in the 2020 election with a winning Senate candidate, having run ahead of McSally by tens of thousands of votes. However, Republicans have maintained majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
Ducey, Jeff Flake, and Cindy McCain were censured by Arizona Republican Party precinct captains at the yearly state meeting. The latter two campaigned vociferously for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election, largely eschewing any loyalty to the Republican Party in favor of the establishment Democrat politician.
Arizona is now primed to conduct its third US Senate election in as many election cycles, with Republicans receiving a second chance to defeat Mark Kelly, who is finishing since-deceased Senator John McCain’s 2016 term. Republicans such as Andy Biggs of the House Freedom Caucus, Debbie Lesko, and Matt Salmon have been suggested as Senate candidates in an election where the party will have an opportunity to regain its footing in the purple state.