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State Republicans May Try to Block Independents from Their Primaries

AP Photo/Matt York

Republicans may try to block independents from voting in future party primaries after they may have affected the outcome of some close races this year. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

More than 87,000 independents cast Republican ballots in the just completed primary. That computes to close to one out of every seven GOP votes. And, it comes as margins of victory for some Republican candidates may be far thinner than the number of independents who voted in their races. In the first congressional district just 407 votes separated Andy Tobin from Gary Kiehne. But, there were more than a thousand independents voting in the GOP primary from tiny Apache County alone. A.J. LaFaro, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, said the issue goes beyond any one race. 

“Independents, in my opinion, may not support the Republican platform, conservative values. And if they’re able to pull a Republican ballot and vote for candidates that they feel are more to their liking, if you want to vote in a Republican primary, I firmly believe that you should be a registered Republican,” LaFaro said.

Any change would run afoul of a 1998 voter-approved constitutional measure which specifically lets independents vote in primaries. But, LaFaro said he believes the party could challenge that in court. If that doesn’t work, then he said the issue could go to the ballot. But, that would require consent of independents who now outnumber both Republicans and Democrats.

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