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Arizona Republican Party's Fundraising Plummets This Year

Contributions to the Arizona Republican Party have fallen this year to their lowest level in nearly two decades, according to campaign finance records.

The organization has burned through most of its cash as it prepares for the 2020 U.S. Senate race and rebuilds following the series of campaign losses last year, the Arizona Republic reported last week.

The state GOP raised $89,000 during the first quarter of this year, down from the $347,000 raised during the same period in 2017, according to campaign finance data. The party's first-quarter fundraising has previously averaged $278,000 in the years before general elections since 2003.

The party's cash reserves have dropped from $416,000 at the beginning of this year to $56,000 by the end of March. It spent $448,000 in the first three months of this year, mostly on personnel, consulting and canvassing fees.

The Arizona Democratic Party has raised $293,000 so far this year. It has $520,000 in cash reserves.

Based on state GOP officials' contacts with prospective donors in recent weeks, party spokesman Zachery Henry said he expects fundraising to pick up. Most of the party's spending occurred before party chair Kelli Ward entered office in late January, he said.

Ward gained party leadership over incumbent Jonathan Lines, the more moderate establishment favorite.

The party's fundraising numbers could be tied to Ward, a former state senator from Lake Havasu City and a twice-unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate. GOP consultant Wes Gullett said that long-time donors are looking for stability in the party, and the transition to Ward's leadership has caused disruption.

"The establishment holds the money and they're holding it close and are waiting to see what she's going to be like," Gullett said.

The newspaper reached out to several past donors, but they declined to comment about why they were not yet contributing to the party.

Republicans are regrouping after losing three statewide offices and a U.S. Senate seat to Democrats last year.

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