Those of us who are in Southern Arizona may have missed this week’s intra-mural grudge match between our state’s Republican officials.
Monday night at a meeting of the Legislative District 6 Republican club, as chronicled on conservative blog Seeing Red AZ, State Republican Chairman Randy Pullen ripped into two of the district’s Republicans, Senator Pamela Gorman and the Dickensian-named Representative Sam Crump.
This led Crump, who was at the meeting, to write an angry letter to Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, since Pullen is treasurer for the RNC. The point must be made here that Crump is part of the “more conservative than thou” faction that got Pullen elected and re-elected.
A big part of Pullen’s trouble is that even though his base among Republican activists is composed of the anti-government and anti-immigration wing, a big part of his job description is speaking up on behalf of Republican karmazyn like John McCain and Jan Brewer, neither of whom are popular in that slice of the Republican party.
The Seeing Red blog doesn’t give Pullen’s exact comments, but given his past statements, I can see how he could have been inartful, to say the least. There are ways to argue the governor’s position short of insulting people on your side, and obviously, Pullen didn’t know how to do it. I can’t imagine Jim Pederson, Harry Mitchell or Don Bivens waltzing in to a district club meeting back during Janet Napolitano’s administration and pulling a similar stunt, and there were plenty of Democrats that voted against her budgets. This is as much an indication of the rhetorical clumsiness of Pullen as it is the desperation induced by the impossible political situation Brewer has been backed into.
(Maybe the insults are the talking points these days from the Governor’s office, given the tone adopted by some of Brewer’s surrogates.)
The best response to all of this came from a Republican operative I spoke to about this incident. He had supported Lisa James against Pullen, because he was concerned about whether or not Pullen knew how to raise money and run a campaign organization. Both of these considerations, in the opinion of my source, were pooh-poohed by Pullen supporters. Because of this, he was particularly amused by this line in Seeing Red:
The party’s job is to keep Republicans in office, get more elected, and stand for Republican principles.
His response: “That’s what we were trying to tell you when we were supporting Lisa James!”