As much as anything, the forced resignation of Mr. DeWit — one strategist called it a “political assassination” — revealed the depths of the party’s yawning ideological divide.
Mr. Dewit, 52, was chosen to head the state party a year ago, ending a tumultuous period in which the party was led by an election denier. He was seen as one of the few Republicans capable of bridging the gap between the state party organization’s hard-right majority and a minority that acknowledges Mr. Trump’s dominance but argues that highlighting more extreme positions is a losing proposition in elections.
Mr. DeWit has impeccable credentials in the Trump political world. As Arizona state treasurer, he was the first state elected official in the nation to endorse Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy in 2015, and ran his Arizona campaign. He became chief operating officer of Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election bid after serving a stint as chief financial officer at NASA.
“He was one of the untouchables in the Trump group,” said Mike Noble, a Phoenix-based pollster, market research expert and former Republican congressional aide.
Ms. Lake, 54, supported the choice of Mr. DeWit at the time. An ardent supporter of Mr. Trump, she had jumped from a job as a television news anchor to become the Republican candidate for governor in 2022. She has consistently refused to recognize either Mr. Trump’s loss to Joseph R. Biden in 2020 or her own defeat in 2022 to the Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs.
Mr. DeWit said this week that Ms. Lake was an employee of a technology company he owns — Ms. Lake said she worked “with” Mr. DeWit — and that the two had many private conversations as friends. It was during one of those conversations that Mr. DeWit relayed the offer from unidentified people “back East” to reward her if she sat out the 2024 race for a Senate seat.
Kellen Browning contributed reporting.