A piece of voter material circulated by the Maricopa County Republicans organization has caused internal strife in the party in Scottsdale, with some City Council candidates crying foul and accusing the local party of playing favorites.
The Maricopa County GOP prints multiple versions of the materials, called the “Golden Ticket,” for different legislative districts in the county.
The Golden Ticket lists Republican candidates for statewide, county and local office in the upcoming election and also includes endorsements for or against statewide ballot propositions.
Several council candidates in Scottsdale were irked by the local version of the Golden Ticket because it only listed one Republican candidate for council – incumbent Kathy Littlefield – despite the fact that several registered Republicans are vying for the three open council seats.
Candidate Bill Crawford said the Golden Ticket puts him and other non-listed Republican candidates at a disadvantage in the election because Republican voters could mistakenly think there is only one Republican in the field of five candidates running for the council.
Incumbent David Smith, who is a Republican running for re-election, said that could lead some voters to vote solely for Littlefield and vote for no one else to fill the other two seats.
Scottsdale’s City Council elections are officially non-partisan, meaning a candidate’s party identification is not indicated on the ballot or official voter materials.
Smith said that the local party should not have listed any candidates running for Scottsdale City Council, citing Scottsdale’s non-partisan election rules.
However, if they had to list candidates, Smith said, “They should have listed the names of all four candidates who are registered Republican; by implication, any candidate not listed could be presumed to be Democrat, Independent or other registration.”
Crawford accused the Maricopa County Republicans of coordinating with the Littlefield campaign beforehand and playing favorites.
Similarly, Smith said he believed the inclusion of Littlefield on the Golden Ticket was the result of backroom negotiations between Littlefield camp and the LD 23 Republicans.
Former Councilman Bob Littlefield said his wife’s campaign did not coordinate with anyone to create the flyer.
“I do not know who designed that flyer, (and) we only saw it after it was printed and circulated,” he said.
Maricopa County Republicans Chairman Chris Herring said that the inclusion of Littlefield on the ticket is not tantamount to an endorsement.
He said Maricopa County Republicans solicited names to include in the local council election from local LD 23 Republican leadership because his organization was advised that it should not have any direct contact with campaigns in non-partisan local races.
Littlefield was the only name provided by LD 23 Republicans.
Though he reiterated that Littlefield’s campaign did not coordinate with the local party beforehand, Bob Littlefield speculated as to why Kathy Littlefield was the only council candidate on the Golden Ticket.
He said that “…she has been a Precinct Committeeman continuously since 1984, has been a County Delegate and State Committeeman at least five times I can remember, and has been Treasurer of LD 23 Republicans twice…”
Herring said that his organization printed 18 versions of the Golden Ticket for different communities throughout the county and that it relied on local party leadership in each district for names to include under the local races headers.
He said that some groups provided a dozen names and some provided none at all.
Herring acknowledged that the ticket has caused some strife but that it was not his organization’s intention to create acrimony between Republican candidates and the party in Scottsdale.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to support all Republicans running for office throughout Maricopa County,” he said.
Herring said that this is the first year that Maricopa County Republicans has attempted to circulate information on this scale and that the organization will work to avoid similar situations in the future.
“The process can and should be improved,” Herring said.