According to a report from the Washington Post, the growing sea-change in Arizona, which appeared to be becoming more of a swing-state based on the 2020 election results, is going back to being a conservative bastion thanks to the work of a pro-Trump youth group that has bullied and threatened moderate Republicans in the state to fall in line.
As the Post reports, Turning Point USA has become a force in Arizona based upon "...audio recordings of private meetings, personal messages and interviews with more than 80 people, including current and former Turning Point employees, public officials and their staffers, political consultants and state and local party activists who have interacted with the nonprofit’s leaders."
Turning Point, with conservative activist Charlie Kirk at the helm, has become a major player in the state that was the focus of accusations of election theft -- which were subsequently debunked -- and has taken the lead in making sure that any Republican who does not tow the Trump line will soon find themselves on the outside, if not out of office.
Case in point, the report notes, is Republican House speaker Rusty Bowers, who balked at pressure from Turning Point to make redistricting moves and was put on notice that Turning Point would destroy him.
According to the report, Tyler Bowyer, the chief operating officer of Turning Point USA sat down with Bowers and demanded he "should carve up booming and fast-diversifying Maricopa County, diluting the power of Democrats in a state that had helped deliver Joe Biden the presidency."
After Bowers refused, Bowyer texted him, "Rusty, I will be working toward ensuring you do not win your election in 2022. I appreciate your service, I will do whatever it takes to ensure you are retired.”
According to the Post, "Soon, the state legislator faced a rush of ridicule on social media and in negative ads as Turning Point’s political arm launched a campaign to 'Replace RINO Rusty.' The speaker lost his primary for an open state Senate seat in August to a Turning Point-backed Republican who called the 2020 election a 'conspiracy headed up by the Devil himself.'"
"The takedown of one of the most powerful Republicans in the state illustrates the rise of Turning Point USA and its network of affiliates, which have pushed beyond their core mission of energizing college conservatives to turn Arizona into a laboratory for a new brand of Republican organizing," the report states.
According to Arizona's Jeff DeWit, who served as chief operating officer for both of Trump’s presidential campaigns, "They have a bigger impact than any other Republican group I know," before adding, "They’re more powerful than the RNC.”
"The Post review found that Turning Point, which forged an early alliance with the pro-Trump movement in 2016, devised an aggressive strategy to enforce discipline and purity in a divided GOP that was struggling to overcome Democratic gains in the state. The group recruited like-minded activists into the party ranks and often used provocative rhetoric online to pressure old-guard Republicans and 'barrage the left,' as one internal document put it, while creating a new political action committee to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into statewide and legislative campaigns," the report continued. "With more than $65 million in annual revenue, more than 400 employees and a massive network of conservative influencers, Turning Point’s vast network exerts its influence through a dizzying array of mediums, from podcasts to social media to concert-like rallies, funded by GOP mega-donors and aimed at younger generations."
You can read more here.