Arizona Republicans choose Trump favorite Gina Swoboda as party chair

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PHOENIX (AP) — Gina Swoboda, an election activist endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has been chosen as the next chair of the Arizona Republican Party, a leadership post that puts her center stage in the battleground state for November's presidential election.

Fox10 television in Phoenix reported that Swoboda garnered 67% of the votes at Saturday's state party meeting. The GOP declined to confirm that margin of victory to The Associated Press.

Swoboda replaces Jeff DeWit, who was halfway through his two-year term. He resigned Wednesday after a leaked audio recording revealed him offering a job to U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake and asking her to name a price that would keep her out of the 2024 election cycle.

At the time of the recording last March, Lake was waging an unsuccessful court fight challenging her loss in the 2022 race for Arizona governor even as she geared up for the U.S. Senate campaign. Meanwhile, Republicans in Washington, bruised by a disappointing showing in the midterms, were talking openly about plans to seek GOP Senate nominees who would be more viable in general elections.

DeWit was chief operating officer for Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns and chief financial officer at NASA during the Trump presidency.

He was seen as a trusted and experienced operative who could bridge the bitter divide between Trump loyalists and old guard Republicans in Arizona, many of whom were brought into the party by the late Sen. John McCain.

Swoboda is a former employee of the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and was the election day director of operations for Trump in 2020. She has been working for the Arizona Senate as a senior adviser on elections.

Lake, who is running for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat, congratulated Swoboda and called her win a “massive victory” for her campaign and Trump’s.

“Gina is a national leader in election law. She is a grassroots hero … is battle tested and a woman of great integrity,” Lake said in a statement. “Gina understands that the White House and Senate Majority —and frankly, the survival of our Republic — runs through State 48.”