Whatever their other faults, neither Flake nor John McCain ever lost an election in Arizona. In 2020, Arizona voted Democrat in the presidential election for only the second time since 1948 and is now represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since 1953. Normally, this would prompt some introspection about how the party can win back voters. Instead, Ward and the state party are now focused not only on censuring Flake and Mrs. McCain, but also the state’s sitting Republican governor, Doug Ducey.

The ostensible grievance is that Ducey’s response to COVID amounts to assuming “dictatorial powers” under a “faux State of Emergency.” The actual motivation appears to be an extension of Donald Trump’s rage at Ducey for acknowledging the obvious fact that Joe Biden won Arizona.

A party looking for answers about winning statewide elections might be interested in emulating Ducey, who was reelected by 14 points in 2018 while the Democrats were winning a Senate race. A party interested in governing as its members want might be interested in emulating Ducey for that reason as well, given his solidly conservative record as governor. A party testing the public mood on COVID might note that fringe groups on both the left and the right tried to promote recall petitions against him during the pandemic, and both failed to get enough signatures. What sort of message are Arizona voters supposed to take from the state party denouncing its own governor as a dictator? Surely, not one that will fill them with confidence about electing Republicans to responsible office.