One of Yavapai County’s most venerated political clubs has returned to Prescott Valley. After a hiatus of two years, Yavapai College District Board Member Steve Irwin and other local citizens are bringing the Highway 69 Republican Club back to life, renamed the Highway 69 Republican and Conservative Club, to reflect a more rightward tilt in Yavapai County politics.
Before a Saturday evening gathering of 20-25 local activists, Irwin announced that a revitalized club would begin meeting monthly at the Stepping Stones Community Center in Prescott Valley in January 2020.
The inaugural meeting featured Congressman Paul Gosar, fresh from Washington, DC and firsthand experience with the impeachment travesty that has paralyzed Congress. Gosar reported that the inquiry may be unstoppable, but Republican polling shows that impeaching President Trump is strongly opposed by many voters and may be creating opportunities for down-ticket Republican candidates in next year’s Presidential election.
The Highway 69 Republican Club was founded in the early 2000’s by County Supervisor Tom Thurman, along with other activists, including former Phoenix City Council Member Francis Barwood, who was on hand for the Saturday meeting. District 5 County Supervisor Jack Smith was also associated with the club for many years. Steve Irwin has now picked up the mantle. Over the years, the club became an important meeting place for local activists. Monthly meetings on Tuesday evenings routinely drew candidates and top elected officials from across the state as speakers. Everyone from US Senate and congressional candidates to state legislators and candidates for local offices made the pilgrimage to the Highway 69 Republican Club for the opportunity to engage with voters and political activists.
Dr. Selina Bliss, a candidate for LD1 State Representative and former State Representative David Stringer were on hand for Saturday’s inaugural meeting. Stringer remarked on the role political clubs serve in vetting candidates. “For newcomers like me who start without much name recognition, the clubs are hugely important for making contacts and building a network of supporters. I rarely missed a meeting. Noel [Rep. Campbell] and I kicked around the idea of bringing Highway 69 back but just never found the time. I really appreciate what Steve Irwin is doing for the community.” Dr. Bliss was on hand with her signature petitions, along with Irwin himself, who is mounting a conservative challenge to Mary Mallory who was recently appointed County Supervisor for District 5.
Irwin said his plan is for the new Highway 69 Republican Club to stick with tradition and that future meetings will be at 5 PM at a venue convenient to Prescott Valley voters. “Given that 2020 is a Presidential election year with many new candidates running for open offices”, Irwin said, “this is the right and perfect time to bring back this venerable political club.” The date and place and the program for the January meeting will be announced in the near future.