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Kelli Ward replaces incumbent Lines for Arizona GOP chairmanship

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Kelli Ward was victorious in her race to become the next GOP chairman Saturday, knocking off incumbent Jonathan Lines.

With 633 votes, Ward successfully beat Lines, who garnered 526. A third candidate had 65.

The voting was done by newly elected state committee members from each district or county committee.

Chosen after the party suffered major losses in 2018 races, Ward in her victory speech called her election an opportunity to unify the party and make the state “the Republican powerhouse that we can be.”

Lines, who served as chairman for two years, took to Facebook after the defeat, saying it had been his “greatest pleasure to serve” as the party’s chairman and wished luck to Ward.

This was Ward’s first run for state GOP chair: She previously lost bids for Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016 against the late Sen. John McCain and in 2018 for outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat.

Republican Jon Kyl was appointed to McCain’s seat and Democrat Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema was elected to Flake’s seat over Republican Martha McSally.

Ward, 50, had argued that the state party needs an array of changes in the wake of a “crushing defeat” in the November general election that saw the loss of the Senate race and defeats in several other congressional and statewide races despite holding a voter registration edge over Democrats.

“We simply can’t afford to let this happen … we need to do better,” Ward told the party gathering Saturday, adding later: “We have to win 2020 for President Trump.”

Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, took to Twitter after the vote.

Democratic state Sen. Martin Quezada also posted on the social media site about the outcome.

“The AZ Party of #McCain has morphed into the Party of Kelli Ward,” He posted on Twitter. “This is exactly why AZ will continue to trend blue.”

In addition to Ward’s victory, Arizona Democratic Party officials re-elected attorney and former state banking regulator Felecia Rotellini as party chair.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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