Arizona GOP Calling for Closed Primaries in 2016

State Republicans want to keep independent voters out

As my previous post highlighted, Arizona’s independent voters turned out in impressive numbers through early ballots in the primary election. Since the Democratic primaries have not been especially contentious (with a couple exceptions), many independents turned their ballot pens to the Republican primary.

As impressive as the early ballot numbers have been, the Arizona GOP is not impressed at all.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports:

“Republican Party leaders are concerned about independents’ potential to water down the party’s influence and lead to more moderate Republicans getting nominated. Republican leaders are reacting by attempting to close the GOP primary system to independents in 2016 and beyond.”

You can understand their frustration when a bunch of folks who won’t commit to their party have free reign to come in and help decide who represents it. Whether or not they have a point there is arguable. But the “independent problem” is not just an Arizona problem. The Washington Times also reports that the same thing is happening in Mississippi, where “Republican National Committee members and activists are still seething about reports that longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican, enlisted Democrats to help him win his tough primary contest this summer against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who was backed by the tea party.”

Is this a case of poor losers, or do open primaries pose a legitimate flaw in the primary system? Is it fair to allow an election in which the opposition can decide a party’s candidate?

Regardless, the Arizona unaffiliated may only have this one last shot. Let’s debate the fairness of the system at a time when something can be done about it. For now, the rules are the rules, and independents are going to operate inside them as they are, in ways that will benefit their own interests.

“But, it’s not ethical! Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s not wrong!” say some.

You mean like the Arizona Free Enterprise Club acting as a political action committee, providing huge funding for GOP frontrunners, while operating under the rules of a non-profit social welfare organization?

You’re right, let’s talk some more about ethics.

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