Michelle Ugenti-Rita

The results of Tuesday’s election should serve as both a wake-up call to Republicans and serve as a referendum on the direction the party has taken over the last several years.

With the victory of President-elect Biden and the United States Senate Republican majority hanging in the balance, our party’s leaders must take a much stronger and active role in defending our core beliefs and principles if republicans plan to stay competitive in 2022. 

While I am pleased most Republicans in Arizona managed to hold onto their seats, maintaining the status quo and hanging on for dear life is not a winning strategy nor is it something to celebrate.

 In this election, Republicans lost another United States senate seat, the Presidency in Arizona and in recent elections we have lost majority representation of our congressional delegation and the Offices of Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

If our party was led with a united front, advocating for our conservative principles, we would be growing our Republican representation from the top of the ticket all the way down to the local races.

It is difficult to reach any conclusion other than we have fallen short of governing by and accomplishing the goals, principles and beliefs of conservatism. One of the first and most fundamental tenets our of party is “Restoring the America Dream.” Essentially this means rebuilding our economy and creating jobs, enacting a pro-growth tax code,  stimulating private investment through lower corporate income taxes and reduced regulatory burdens, investing in infrastructure (including transportation), developing our workforce by investing in education and workforce development, and most importantly adhering to fiscal responsibility and eliminating debt.

 The Republican party has to take a hard look at itself and assess what it means to be a Republican and how we want to move forward.  It is no longer acceptable to campaign on our principles and then abandon them when leading and legislating.

Some members of our party may be advocating that now is the time to begin “reaching across the aisle” and working collaboratively and I agree there is a time and place for that. 

However, we must first take inventory of ourselves and what we are as Republicans. With the dynamics as they currently are, we can no longer afford to not stand as one.

My political beliefs and philosophy have and always will be conservative and that is why I am proudly registered as a republican. My beliefs are limited government, fiscal responsibility and the pursuit of personal and economic freedom. Unfortunately, during my tenure in the legislature party leaders has strayed from legislating those beliefs -- though many still espouse them.

 Now, more than ever, we need leadership in our party that can unite and truly represent our shared philosophies. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand and avoid the difficult decisions that have to be made. We also cannot celebrate the state’s financial condition when it is being sustained on borrowed money from the federal government.

These are not the principles we campaigned on. The voters were told how we would govern and they expect and deserve us to do so.  The future of our state and party depends on it.

The Legislature is set to reconvene on Monday, Jan. 11.  Whether Republicans have a one vote majority in each chamber or not we must return united and with an agenda to not only finish the work we failed to complete last year, but to also quickly set a path for restoring the American Dream.

This will be accomplished first and foremost by terminating the Governor’s March 11, 2020 Declaration of Emergency which we have lived under for too long.  Undeniably, we are in a health crisis, but it is one that can and should be managed by the legislature and Governor together.

Through the legislative process with public and stakeholder input we can re-open our state to get businesses flourishing, people back to work, children back in schools and people living and recreating in our great state.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita represents Legislative District 23, which includes part of Scottsdale.