Grant Woods’ critics on the right may not be able to expel him from the GOP, but they may get the next best thing if they can strip him of his voting rights at the Maricopa County Republican Party.
The county GOP’s 30-person Executive Guidance Committee is set to vote at its Oct. 7 meeting on whether to take away the former attorney general’s voting rights under a by-law that prohibits precinct committeeman from endorsing Democrats. Woods riled many in the party by endorsing Democrat Felecia Rotellini for attorney general over Republican Tom Horne.
The committee will also decide whether to strip the voting rights of PCs Kahryn Nix and Sue Gerard, former state senator and ex-director of the Arizona Department Health Services. Both are Republican precinct committeemen who, like Woods, publicly endorsed Rotellini as part of her “Republicans for Felecia” event.
Woods isn’t taking the affair quite as seriously as Maricopa County GOP Chairman Rob Haney. In an Oct. 6 letter filled with sarcasm and one-liners, Woods mocked Haney and expressed scorn for the process.
“I am disappointed that I won’t be able to vote on your important resolutions on ‘issues’ such as secession from the union and the never-ending pursuit of the president’s birth certificate, but I will get over it,” wrote Woods, who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1999.
Woods scoffed at the notion that he can’t support the candidate he believes is best for the job, and stood by his backing of Rotellini, whom he hired during his time at the Attorney General’s Office. Just several months ago, he noted, many Republicans who supported former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas in the GOP primary said Horne wasn’t fit for the job.
“According to you, if there was a hypothetical race between Thomas Jefferson, Democrat, and Lindsay Lohan, Republican, I could not endorse Jefferson over Lohan,” Woods wrote.
Haney, however, said the issue is not whether a Republican can support a Democrat. It’s whether an elected official of the party can do so.
“We’re not talking about just a mainstream Republican. A Republican precinct committeeman is obligated, by the very name, to work for Republican candidates,” Haney said.
The Maricopa County GOP approved a by-law in 2006 to deal with just such an occasion after numerous Republicans – including Gerard, Nix and Woods – joined up with former Gov. Jan Napolitano’s reelection. Woods referred to the by-law in his letter as the “Haney rule.”
“There were a number of people enraged who said we should kick them out of the party or do something like that. My position was you cannot do that but you probably can remove their voting privileges internally in the party,” Haney said.
Haney said the by-law was last used in 2008. He wouldn’t say who the targets were, but said several PCs lost their voting rights after endorsing third-party candidates over Sen. John McCain in the presidential race.
Woods said he doesn’t care what happens at the committee meeting. He can’t attend because he’s out of town, he said, but wouldn’t attend if were back in the Valley either. Woods said he hasn’t attended a county GOP meeting since the 1990s, when he was attorney general.
As for Haney, Woods said he doesn’t know the chairman personally, but said his sharp words for Haney may have rubbed him the wrong way. In recent GQ article about McCain, whom Woods has close ties with, Woods said he referred to Haney as “a nut.”
Woods noted that Haney has been a sharp critic of McCain’s, and in his letter he accused Haney of spending “most of the past decade publicly condemning and working against many of our Republican elected officials, including our last nominee for president.”
“The only thing I know about him is hearing stories about him in action,” Woods told the Arizona Capitol Times. “He has a long history of berating people and haranguing people who are anywhere to the left of Atilla the Hun.”
At Rotellini’s Sept. 23 press conference to announce “Republicans for Felecia,” the former banking regulator said she felt Woods was representative of most Republicans in Arizona. Woods said his Republican credentials were strong and pointed out his prominent roles on McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaigns.
Haney, however, disagreed, and dismissed Woods’ assertion that, as the former AG and the only Republican elected to the position in the past 20 years, he is in a better position to judge who is most qualified to serve as attorney general.
“That didn’t show a lot of sense to me, because he endorsed JN, and look what we got with JN. So if that’s an example of his legal acumen, I’m not impressed with his decision,” Haney said.