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After Trump’s Loss in Arizona, State Republicans Hurl Insults at One Another

The Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives did what he thought was right after Rudolph W. Giuliani rolled through Phoenix for maskless meetings with Republican legislators and then tested positive for the coronavirus: He shut the chamber down for a week in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

But that move is now adding fuel to the open conflict within Arizona’s Republican Party, positioning Trump loyalists intent on overturning the state’s election results against relatively moderate figures like Rusty Bowers, the House speaker, and Gov. Doug Ducey, both of whom have made it clear the results will stand.

The party this week publicly urged people to fight to the death to overturn the election in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated President Trump by fewer than 11,000 votes, about 0.3 percentage points. That entreaty came after 28 current and incoming Republican lawmakers called for the decertification of the election as requested by Mr. Giuliani, the personal and campaign lawyer for Mr. Trump.

The quarreling, which has powerful state Republicans openly insulting one another, is bringing attention to the challenges the party faces as Arizona shifts from a Republican bastion to a battleground state.

“There’s been a civil war boiling in the Republican Party for a couple of years,” said Marcus Dell’Artino, a Republican strategist in Phoenix. “Now we’re seeing the public part of it.”

Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, told Mr. Ducey on Twitter last week to #STHU — the hashtag for “shut the hell up” — after he defended the state’s election process. At a news conference, Mr. Ducey responded, “I think what I would say is the feeling’s mutual to her, and practice what you preach.”

Separately, Andy Biggs, a Trump loyalist in the State Legislature, singled out Mr. Ducey for a public rebuke over the coronavirus, theorizing that the governor “intends to coerce vaccinations.”

Mr. Ducey’s chief of staff, Daniel Scarpinato, then entered the fray, tweeting to Mr. Biggs: “We always knew you were nuts, but you’ve now officially confirmed it for the whole world to see. Congratulations. Enjoy your time as a permanent resident of Crazytown.”

The infighting flared after Mr. Giuliani visited Phoenix last week as part of his traveling legal battle contending, without providing evidence, that the election was marked by widespread fraud. Mr. Giuliani spent about 11 hours with several Republican lawmakers in a hotel ballroom, and also met with at least eight during a visit to the Arizona Capitol.

Neither Mr. Ducey’s office nor Zachery Henry, a spokesman for the Arizona Republican Party, responded to requests for comment on the public discord. After the party asked its followers on Twitter if they were prepared to die for the cause of overturning the election, Mr. Ducey asserted that the Republican Party was “the party of the Constitution and the rule of law.”

“We prioritize public safety, law & order, and we respect the law enforcement officers who keep us safe,” Mr. Ducey said on Twitter. “We don’t burn stuff down. We build things up.”

Still, Mr. Giuliani’s baseless claims have resonated with what appears to be a sizable chunk of the state’s Republican Party, which has periodically dealt with factional squabbling.

In the 1980s, Gov. Evan Mecham, a hard-liner known for canceling a paid holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was impeached and removed from office two years after being elected. More recently, divisions emerged between followers of Mr. Trump and supporters of John S. McCain, the Arizona senator who before his death was among the few powerful Republicans to push back against the president.

Mr. Ducey, who sailed to re-election in 2018 while hewing to a centrist image, had gone all-in for Mr. Trump on the campaign trail this year. But then he defied the president at a televised news conference last week, going so far as silencing a call from Mr. Trump while he was signing the papers certifying Arizona’s election results.

To the frustration of Mr. Trump’s strident supporters in the state, including some who have been protesting the election results for weeks, Mr. Bowers, the House speaker, also made it clear he would resist calls to overturn the certified results.

“As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election,” Mr. Bowers said in a statement. “I voted for President Trump and worked hard to re-elect him. But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election.”

When Mr. Bowers then closed the chamber for a week after Mr. Giuliani’s positive coronavirus test, Ms. Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, took him to task on Twitter, saying, “This is a 100% unnecessary, cowardly move.”

Some warn that the increasingly caustic feuding is obscuring an election in which Republicans actually fared better than many had expected. While Mr. Biden narrowly won the state and Democrats picked up a second Senate seat, Republicans held control of both houses in the Legislature and won most state offices up for grabs.

Looking ahead at ambitions to scale back Democratic gains, Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican strategist in Phoenix, said the bickering reflected the ascent of a “more activist conservative portion of the party” personified by Ms. Ward, who had been unable to build relationships with the larger business community in Arizona and execute fund-raising without relying on Mr. Trump.

“The party is no longer the relationship-building apparatus that it has been for many years under previous governors here in Arizona,” Mr. Coughlin said. “It is a vestige of Trump’s authority.”

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