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Image: Kelli Ward
Dr. Kelli Ward concedes to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Scottsdale, Arizona on August 30, 2016.David Kadlubowski / AP file

It's not just DC: Drama overwhelms state-level Republican parties

At the national level, all is not well in Republican politics, but there's even greater drama within the GOP at the state level.


At the national level, all is not well in Republican politics. The party finds itself out of power, directionless, and bound to a corrupt former president who just lost in a landslide.

But as Vox noted yesterday, there's even greater drama within the GOP at the state level.

Donald Trump's departure from the White House left a giant question mark hanging over American democracy: Would the GOP reckon with its embrace of Trumpism, or would it continue down the extremist path it has been traveling for years? The evidence from the past few weeks has not been promising. But one of the most disturbing signs — and one of the most underappreciated — has been the wild behavior of certain state-level Republican parties in recent days.

The recent pattern is more than a little unsettling:

* In Arizona, the state GOP is led by right-wing activist Kelli Ward, and started dabbling in deeply radical messages soon after Donald Trump's defeat. Over the weekend, it went further: the Arizona Republican Party formally censured prominent GOP voices, including sitting Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, for not being extreme enough.

* In Oregon, the leadership of the state Republican Party formally approved a resolution last week calling the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol a "false flag operation" hatched by the left. As the Oregonian reported, the crackpot resolution "cited a variety of right-wing pundits and publications that have advanced the same theories."

* In Hawaii, the state GOP's official Twitter account defended QAnon adherents and praised the work of a Holocaust denier. Though the offending tweets were later deleted, and a top state Republican official resigned, the Associated Press reported yesterday, "The Hawaii GOP Twitter account has a history of promoting the fringe element."

* In Wyoming, Frank Eathorne, the chair of the state Republican Party, recently suggested his state is considering the possibility of secession.

* In Texas, the state GOP has incorporated phrases associated with QAnon into its official messaging. (Party officials have said it's just a coincidence.)

In recent years, it's been relatively common to find even more extremism among state Republican leaders than at the national level, but in the first month of the post-Trump era, conditions seem quite a bit worse.