After the Tuesday primary election in Arizona, it became clear that the Republican Party in the state has been taken over by former President Donald Trump. Wednesday morning, Trump took a victory lap on his personal social media site bragging, "Ran the entire board."
Government affairs consultant Kevin DeMenna has been working in Arizona politics for years, and when speaking to KJZZ on Wednesday, he explained what results in primaries like Arizona show is that Republicans like Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) are not the leaders of the GOP anymore.
"When [Gov. Evan] Mecham was elected it was his fifth try," explained DeMenna. "When I counsel with candidates I remind them to save their signs and Evan Mecham did. But it was with 40 percent of the vote Bill Schultz and Carolyn Warner and that's legally impossible now. That's been changed. But he lasted 15 months. He rescinded the Martin Luther King holiday and the leadership that stepped up to impeach him wasn't the party leadership. It was these citizen leaders that carried the state forward."
He noted that at the time the state was at a fork in the road after Mecham being impeached.
"The people that felt Mecham was wronged, that the electoral process, in this case, the legislative side of it, that didn't serve them, came out [and voted]. And that that's the great fork in the road."
If the roots are traced, DeMenna explained that the Mecham supporters felt there was some kind of shadow government, perhaps even a conspiracy, that was going after someone that was just like them. Such fights between those with more traditional Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) bring out the Kelli Ward types.
"What he did is he spoke to the minority that felt that these terms should be in the mainstream that women shouldn't be in the workforce and when he was shown the door, it was an empowering moment. He was wrong and these values as well as Evan Mecham had to be restored. We fought through six years, three electoral cycles before that was really finally purged from the system," continued DeMenna.
He explained that the row that had to be hoed created a path for those who hadn't spoken out about white supremacy before but finally felt they could. That led to the Joe Arpaio administration in Maricopa County, DeMenna explained. With Donald Trump, that has continued to Kelly Ward and Kari Like and those who follow them.
Listen to the full interview at KJZZ radio's website.