Political consultant angered by ejections by LD13 GOP - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Political consultant angered by ejections by LD13 GOP

December 5th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Political consultant angered by ejections by LD13 GOP

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The political in-fighting inside the Arizona Republican Party is now showing itself locally.

Brian Fox, a political consultant and lobbyist, changed his party registration from Independent to Republican in August. Since then, he has tried to attend three monthly meetings of the Legislative District 13 Republicans.

Each time, they threw him out.

Police reports confirm that Fox was asked to leave each of the meetings despite showing them proof he was registered as a Republican.

“I walked in,” Fox said of the first meeting he tried to attend in September. “There was a little bit of hubbub when they saw my face. Nobody approached me to ask me what I was doing or anything. I went in and sat down, and after sitting down for about two minutes .”

“I was on my phone looking at the news. And I was approached … and told I had to leave. And I said, why? And they said, ‘because you’re not a Republican.’ I said, ‘Yes, I am. Here’s my registration.’”

Fox works as a consultant for AZ Valley Consulting. As part of his job he has worked for both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Multiple messages sent over multiple days to LD13 Republican leadership seeking comment were not returned.

In the police reports, officers were told by those who evicted him that they believed Fox to be a Democrat who only recently changed his party and the group didn’t feel comfortable around him. They said they feel that way because Fox was the campaign manager for a Democrat running in the city council election.

Fox said he may have registered as a Democrat when he turned 18, but he wasn’t politically active then. He said he’s been an Independent ever since. He believes in low taxes – “Who doesn’t?” he said – and limited government.

However, he does not think the 2020 election was stolen. And he is increasingly concerned that the activists who run the party on the district level are too extreme, pushing out more moderate voices. So, he said, that’s why he decided to start attending district meetings.

“If you’re an election denier, you’re an election denier,” Fox said. “You know, LD13 has been the tip of the spear when it comes to going after our county officials and anyone who certified the elections. They’ve been the tip of the spear with this nonsense.”

LD13 is changing, an Arizona political expert says.

Paul Bentz, senior vice president for Highground, Inc., a statewide political consulting group, said the east Chandler district is evolving in a similar pattern to what happened in west Chandler.

“It certainly appears like that will happen to LD13 as well,” Bentz said.

The current LD12 district includes northern and western Chandler, Ahwatukee and parts of Tempe and Mesa. It once was reliably Republican, but has changed over time.

Now, all three of the representatives from that district are Democrats, who have kept the legislative delegation all-blue since at least 2016.

In LD13 – which includes south Chandler, Sun Lakes and part of Gilbert – voters for the third consecutive election cycle elected Democrat Jennifer Pawlik to the state House, along with Republican Rep-elect Liz Harris and incumbent Sen. J.D. Mesnard.

Bentz said it’s likely the district will trend more Democratic and moderate Republicans in the coming years.

But is there room for moderate or even Republicans at LD13 meetings? Or, as the Republican candidate for governor said during the campaign, should they “get the hell out?”

“Certainly, Kari Lake made that abundantly clear,” Bentz said. “It’s likely one of the main reasons she underperformed when you look at statewide results.”

Bentz said that Lake had 118,000 fewer votes than the Republican candidate for State Treasurer, Kimberly Yee. He said some Republicans look at that difference and suspect it must be fraud.

“They’re not interested in appealing to McCain Republicans, and that’s a notion that is shared by a significant portion of the electorate. However, that portion is not large enough to win elections,” Bentz said.

The political expert said the extreme elements are hurting the Republican Party at the ballot box.

“Maricopa County is still a Republican county,” Bentz said, pointing to the race for County Attorney, which was won by a Republican. “What’s the difference? The Republicans who have been more mainstream win, but the MAGA-loving crowd, and election deniers, keep narrowing their votes.

“They appear to be blinded by their beliefs, and they don’t have room for anyone who doesn’t believe that. Everyone must believe the same as they do.”

Fox said there’s a few reasons why he wants to attend the meetings.

First, he says LD13 Republicans aren’t following their own bylaws. He said, for example, they decided to have leadership elections before considering changes to the bylaws. It’s supposed to be the other way around.

Also, the chair of the district is not supposed to be a paid lobbyist. LouAnn Sedgwick was elected in November despite being the development director for the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Fox said she declined the position.

But that’s not what’s driving him.

“This is an issue of extremism on both sides,” Fox said. “And while I do think one party is a little farther than the other one when it comes to extremists in power right now, I don’t want either party in the hands of extremists.

“And this, I think, is important for both parties to recognize before they go over the edge and come to a place in America where we’ve seen we’ve already come dangerously close to.”