LD15 Leadership Exodus Indicative Of AZGOP Growing Pains

As with all political parties after the loss of the Oval Office, Arizona’s GOP is no different. The GOP is growing, according to the numbers recently released by the Secretary of State’s Office, and that growth has unsettled some of the more established members.

A recent exodus by the heads of Legislative District 15, is one such example of how the new blood is shaking out the old.

Legislative District 15, a primarily upper-middle-class area which includes parts of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, has long been a bastion of what the grassroots refer as “the establishment.” President Donald Trump changed the old dynamic, and while many members of “the establishment,” welcomed the change, the hardcore neocon faction of the GOP, sometimes referred to as the “McCain Machine,” did not.

On June 1, the following email went to all precinct committeemen of legislative district 15 in North Phoenix.

Dear Member,

Regrettably we must inform you that all members of the LD15 Board are resigning their positions effective June 1, 2021. This Board has successfully worked to provide quality meetings in an appropriate facility with content usable for our fellow precinct committeemen and precinct committeewomen to engage their neighbors. Each Board member faces personal circumstances that make carrying out their volunteer duties on the Board difficult. It is true that part of that difficulty is the increasingly antagonistic environment which has been created by new membership that prevents us from fully serving ALL members of the Republican Party within LD15. We remain dedicated to the traditional ideals of the Party and appreciate the opportunity to serve.

Derrik Rochwalik
Brian Hummell
Cori Bower
Chris Smith
Jack Clark

Two aspects of this mass resignation create fertile ground for speculation as to why this happened now, and why it happened in the fashion it did.

The first thing we notice is that the effective date of the resignation is the same as the notice of resignation. In other words, this board did not give the precinct committeemen of legislative district 15 any time to prepare for an orderly transfer of leadership. This is highly irregular. The closest analogy we can come up with is that it is like an army unit company commander and every member of his staff going AWOL at once. This of course raises the question of whether this is a simple resignation or they have something else in mind. Right or wrong, unanswered questions invariably lead to speculation.

The second red flag in this resignation notice is one of the reasons given,

“It is true that part of that difficulty is the increasingly antagonistic environment which has been created by new membership that prevents us from fully serving ALL members of the Republican Party within LD15.”

Even the most casual of observers must have noticed that, possibly as a result of recent Republican losses at the polls, there has been a tremendous resurgence of interest among conservative Republicans regarding becoming precinct committeemen and engaging in the process of regaining some of the ground that Republicans have recently lost. It is curious that this board would consider this movement as antagonistic.

One thing that was not mentioned in the resignation message is that over the last 3 cycles, since the 2016 election of officers, there has been a high degree of apathy among precinct committeemen in this district. Except for minor changes, the same group of officers has been elected in 2016, 2018, and 2020. Throughout this period, there have been only a handful of meetings in which there was a quorum, and even then, quorum was achieved by the thinnest of margins. Only when there was an election did we have a significant number of PC’s “present”, and those were significantly the result of proxies provided by PC’s who were recruited for the purpose of providing proxies at election time. Evidently, the people who elected the resigning board are not the same people who have been engaging in attending meetings, talking to neighbors, recruiting new PC’s, participating in the legislative process, supporting Republican candidates, and overall doing what PC’s are supposed to do.

It is too soon to speculate as to what the new LD15 leadership will be like, or to what degree the outgoing board will cooperate in the effort to elect a new board. As usual, we will publish that information as soon as it is available.