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Reprimands issued for Arizona GOP backers of Medicaid plan

PHOENIX -- Republican committees in some counties and state legislative districts are following through on threats to reprimand GOP lawmakers who joined with Democrats in supporting Gov. Jan Brewer's successful push to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported that GOP committees in four legislative districts have approved resolutions of "no confidence" in Republicans who voted for expansion or censures for Brewer and the 14 Republican lawmakers who supported her move.

GOP activists said they expect more such votes.

The admonishments have no practical effect, but the elected precinct committeemen and district chairs said they remind voters of incumbents' support for the Medicaid expansion when they run for re-election next year.

Jerry Clingman, chairman of the Legislative District 16 Republican Party, said Republicans who voted for expansion turned their backs on the party and should be voted out of office.

The district, which covers parts of eastern Maricopa County and northern Pinal County, has a 17-percentage point Republican voter registration advantage. Clingman said he wants to make sure the district's lawmakers will be conservative Republicans who adhere to the party platform.

"It seems we have some people who ran as a Republican and they tricked us," he said. "We need to figure out who the real Republicans are so that we can back them. And those who want to fool us, we're going to get them out (of office)."

Republican precinct committeemen in his legislative district are scheduled to vote late this week on a censure resolution.

Yet in some competitive legislative districts, party leaders are trying to avoid formal reprimands, believing such a move puts the incumbent Republican at a greater risk in the primary. They fear that could lead to hard-line conservatives advancing to the general election, opening the door for Democrats to win the seats.

Legislative District 28 Republican Party Chairman Scott O'Connor and the district leadership team oppose the federal health care overhaul and want Congress to repeal it, but O'Connor said they support the Republican governor's decision to expand Medicaid coverage.

He said the move by other districts to condemn Republican lawmakers is counterproductive.

"It will end up being ammo for a flier from Democrats next year," he said.

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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