SAFFORD — The Arizona Republican Party brought its statewide “One Year to Victory” tour to Safford, where state GOP leaders met with local party members.

Taking place last Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Manor House Restaurant, Graham County Republican Party Chairman John Duane Rhodes welcomed state GOP Executive Director Matthew Kenney, state Director Alex Melendez and Communications Director Torunn Sinclair, as well as Nicholas Tutora, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeff Flake.

Judge Michael Peterson

Judge Michael Peterson speaks at last week’s Graham County Republican Party meeting.

“Hopefully we can get our candidates all elected and keep Arizona red,” Rhodes said.

“We’re doing this whole tour because we want to talk about the momentum of the Republican Party and get our base riled up,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair added that Safford was the fourth stop on the 13-city tour, which kicked off Nov. 1 in Casa Grande and would end at a Nov. 6 rally in Phoenix — exactly one year before the 2018 elections.

The visitors also heard local party members’ concerns. Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said those concerns included infrastructure funding. Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael Peterson added that substance abuse was “devastating our community,” asking that the state GOP “help us to administer this problem and deal with it on the local level.”

Melendez said the party was “working to build a grass-roots army to win in November. We have the honor of working on behalf of the White House. It’s an honor, but it’s also a recruiting tool.”

Sinclair said that the state Republican Party has far outpaced its opposition in registering voters this year, and the numbers seem to confirm this. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, the state Democratic Party had a net gain of 161 voters as of last month, compared to the GOP’s net gain of 8,792. In Graham County, the Republican Party gained 145 voters. The numbers can be seen at:

Nicholas Tutora

U.S. Senate candidate Nicholas Tutora, R-Phoenix, addresses the Graham County Republican Party during last week’s meeting at the Manor House Restaurant.

Tutora, a pharmacist from Phoenix, is one of three Republicans who have declared their intention to run for Flake’s seat. The others are former state Sen. Dr. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, who lost last year in a bid to unseat Sen. John McCain, and Craig Brittain, described on Ballotpedia as an “information technology CEO.”

“What really led me to declare was seeing the way the foundations of our country are under attack,” Tutora said. “We need a strong voice to stand up for Arizona and the Constitution, the values our country was founded on.

“I feel I have the electability factor,” he added. “It’s a matter of running a campaign that will appeal to the wider demographic in Arizona. We need to appeal to independents and also try to bring in some Democrats.”

Follow David Sowders on Twitter @david_sowders.

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