Over the last couple weeks or so, Pullen and I have had a chance to discuss the Chairman's race via email. (My conversation with Lisa James runs tomorrow.)
Why are you running?
I am running because I think I can make a difference in the party. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed; however, the most important one is to reestablish trust between the party leadership and the grassroots. There has not been a real sense of trust since Dodie Londen was chair. The knowledge and experience I have obtained during my 30+ year business career along with my volunteer experience at all levels of the Republican Party in Arizona and nationally over the past 8 years give me a great perspective on how to build the party and make it more effective and in the end, win elections.
What are you going to do to change the party?
Overall, I will make the county and legislative district republican party leadership responsible for a lot of the party building activity this year and next. We need to establish a budget committee, finance committee, registration committee and a training committee. None of these really exist right now. Committees will have responsibilities to develop a plan of action and implement. My role and that of the executive committee and paid staff will be to set goals and standards and measure progress. If goals are not being met, we will make adjustments. I will also ask the executive committee to approve the appointment of a woman to serve as Co-Chairman and work with me to build the party. This is a similar position that exists in many other states and at the RNC. The Co-Chair is of the opposite gender of the Chair. This is just a start in creating an effective, sustainable party organization. Overtime, as trust reemerges and the lines of communications improve between the state party leadership and the county leadership, we will distribute out more responsibility and authority to the county and district level. This will result in developing more party leaders around the state. This approach is similar to what is followed in several other state parties that are very successful.
How are you going to treat the moderates?
I will continue to treat them as I do right now, with respect. This is a two way street. Moderates need to be respectful of conservatives. We agree on a lot of issues. I think the CD8 primary election is an example of what not to do. Regardless of who won the republican nomination in the primary election, there was little time for either the conservative, Randy Graf, or the moderate, Steve Huffman, to recover and win the general election. I will work with party leadership around the state and nationally to attempt to head off such ugly primary confrontations in Arizona.
Why is there such a disconnect between the establishment conservatives and the non establishment conservatives?
By establishment conservatives, I assume you are referring to our congressional delegation, because there is a very strong connection between party grassroots (i.e., non-establishment conservatives) and state elected officials. I, as well as county party leadership around the state, have had and continue to have very good rapport with republican leadership in the legislature, the Secretary of State’s office, Corporation Commissioners and county offices. The congressional delegation has been the defacto leadership of the state party since Governor Symington resigned from office. They have essentially selected the Chairman of the state party since Dodie Londen. If you were to look around the country you will find very few state parties that are controlled by their congressional delegations. The role of a state party is much broader than national elections as it is responsible for winning state and local elections. The RNC, NRCC and SRCC exist to support national races. Their roles overlap those of the state parties in a number of areas including voter registration, get out the vote efforts and fundraising. We need to make sure we are not stepping on each other toes and are as helpful to each other as possible and is permitted by law.
Will the delegation back you?
I believe they will support me. While we have some differences of opinions on a few policies, particularly illegal immigration and campaign reform, we hold the same republican principles and values. If elected Chairman, I will reach out to each of them in order to understanding fully what their expectations are as well as creating lines of communications to discuss issues and opportunities that will undoubtedly arise in the near future.
I'm received emails and folks have commented on espresso pundit, that you have given a lot of money to Democratic Candidates.
My business included working on projects in the City of Tempe as a consultant. I have written checks to a number of Ds over the years involved in City government. Harry was running for the Senate, but was still very much involved in local politics.
I also wrote checks to Paul Johnson when he was running for council in Phoenix in 1990 and Mayor in 1994. He then rolled the 1994 mayoral money into his Governor's race in 1994. I also wrote him a check for $500 in 1998. Paul is a good friend and still is. We have a cup of coffee every once in a while. He endorsed me for my race for mayor in 1999. Besides writing a check, I never did a fundraiser or endorsed him or Harry, it was strictly personal or business related.
These contributions pale in comparison to how much I have raised or given to Republican candidates. As Co-chair of the Finance committee for AZGOP in 2000, I helped raise over $2,000,000. I raised about $60,000 for Matt in 2002. I raised almost $25,000 for Randy Graf last year in the General election. I spent another $10,000 going to RNC meetings.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck on Saturday.