“The modern reincarnation of the recall (election) indulges the impulses of the multitude … In the name of direct democracy, it empowers citizens to whip up a populist frenzy and scavenge for signatures until they’ve accumulated enough to make everyone have to vote again.”
— Dominic Pino, a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at National Review Institute. Published August 3, 2021, at nationalreview.com/2021/08/against-recall-elections
Mr. Pino’s opinion of recall elections is an accurate appraisal, from a conservative viewpoint, of what’s currently happening in Cochise County.
Peggy Judd, District 3 supervisor on the county board, is the subject of a recall attempt. Petition signatures are actively being collected by the organizers of this effort. There are even petitions available at the Republican headquarters office on Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista.
Though the sponsors of this recall are formally recognized as two residents of Huachuca City, the seed for this revolt was planted last month at a GOP meeting. Members erupted in anger that Ms. Judd supported a federal grant to assist the county in battling the COVID-19 pandemic and her list of other “sins” were the focus of discussion among party leadership and those in attendance.
Adding to Supervisor Judd’s liability is the apparent availability and eligibility of Frank Antenori, a former state representative, decorated Special Forces soldier and relatively new District 3 resident. If enough signatures are gathered to force a recall election, we won’t be surprised if Mr. Antenori is a candidate for the District 3 seat.
Let’s remember that Ms. Judd was elected last November after a contested primary election in August that matched her against the popular and well-liked Heather Floyd, currently president of the Benson Chamber of Commerce. To her credit and to serve the best interests of the party, Ms. Floyd ran strictly on her credentials, never personally criticizing Ms. Judd and keeping the focus of her campaign on what she could offer as a supervisor.
Unfortunately, that’s not the tenor of this recall effort.
Party leadership and the other Republican on the county board, District 1 Supervisor Tom Crosby, have stoked a fever of conspiracy and discredit aimed at Ms. Judd. At one point during the Saturday gathering of Republicans last month, a member’s emotional appeal questioned what local officials will do when the unvaccinated are forced into “concentration camps,” because of the county board’s decision to accept the federal COVID-19 grant.
If the thought itself is not ludicrous enough, we can only imagine the state of mind of those who now control the Republican Party in Cochise County.
The message this recall sends to registered voters and residents throughout the county is clear: Republicans here are exclusive, not inclusive. If you are not “conservative enough,” or dare cross those within the party in positions of influence, you are not worthy of being a party member. If you believe in the basic tenet of less government, but support something as “radical” as accepting federal grants, don’t bother to apply for party membership. Statistics are proving this point as well. Since the 2020 election, the Cochise County Republican Party has lost the most members, by percentage and according to registration figures prepared by the secretary of state, compared to every other county GOP in Arizona.
History has taught us what happens next to political parties that eat their own and become too selective in their membership.