December 2, 2023

All eyes are on Arizona on Tuesday as the Republican primary goes up and down on the test vote, former President Donald Trump’s continued influence on the GOP.

On a busy day of primaries where voters in Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Kansas determine statewide and general election contests critical to control of Congress, the presidential state that gave President Joe Biden his narrowest margin of victory in 2020 emerged as a title.

The leading candidates in Arizona’s GOP races for Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general have almost universally echoed Trump’s lies about a stolen election, winning his support. In particular, the close, contested gubernatorial primary offers one of the starkest tests yet of how highly GOP voters prize loyalty to Trump and belief in his false claims about the election.

Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs speaks to the media before dropping off her primary ballot in Scottsdale, Az., on July 21, 2022.Ross D. Franklin File / AP

Cary Lake, a longtime local news anchor backed by Trump and several MAGA influencers, called Biden an “illegal,” blasted Republican Gov. Doug Ducey as a “do-nothing Ducey” and suggested he would not accept the results of of her election. if her opponent prevails.

Karrin Taylor Robson, a real estate developer who worked in former President Ronald Reagan’s White House with support from Ducey, former Vice President Mike Pence and other elected GOP officials, called the 2020 election “unfair,” but declined to say that they were stolen. (Ducey, who is term-limited to running again, earned Trump’s ire when she endorsed Biden’s victory.)

There is no evidence that the 2020 vote in Arizona, or any other state, did not reflect the will of the voters. In Arizona, ballot reviews, including a party operation blessed by the GOP-led state Senate, only confirmed Biden’s victory. Earlier this year, Arizona’s Republican attorney general released a report that found no massive fraud in Maricopa County, where Trump and allies have focused their efforts and claims.

On Monday, GOP Attorney General Mark Brnovich said his office looked into allegations that 282 dead voters cast ballots in Maricopa County and found that only one of those voters was actually dead at the time of the 2020 election. Those allegations stemmed from the conspiracy-filled, partisan review of Maricopa County ballots led by the now-defunct Cyber ​​Ninjas.

“Our agents investigated all of the individuals that the Cyber ​​Ninjas had reported as dead, and many were surprised to learn that they had allegedly died,” Brnovich, who is running in the Senate primary, said. he wrote in the letter to declare Senate President Karen Phan, who signed the unorthodox Cyber ​​Ninjas review.

On the Democratic side, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is expected to easily win her party’s primary. As the state’s top election official, she has been the target of stolen election conspiracy theories and harassed and threatened for her work and defense of the state system in 2020.

Recent polling suggested an extremely tight race between Lake and Taylor Robson, well within the margin of error. Investigations found the Lake leads among younger Republicans, while Taylor Robson did better with older voters.

Both candidates have also focused heavily on the influx of immigrants crossing the southern border.

“Ducey laid down like a doormat on the cartels,” Lake said at a rally in Tucson last month. “I’m sick of having a doormat run the show in Arizona.”

In an interview with NBC News after a campaign in Queen Creek in July, Taylor Robson predicted she would win because “Arizona can’t wait.”

“That’s why Lake Curry’s numbers are plummeting,” he said. “Because she’s really focused on the mirror and not focused on the windshield.”

Taylor Robson compared Lake to former Republican governor Evan Mecham of Arizona, who in the late 1980s faced impeachment, a recall election and a felony charge at the same time.

His tenure “led to … years and years of hardship for the state of Arizona, our reputation and everything else,” he said. “And Kari Lake is going to be Evan Mecham on steroids. I think it’s going to be a disaster for this state.”

The Lake-Taylor Robson clash won’t be the only one in the state that will get national attention. In the GOP primary for state Senate, Trump’s preferred candidate Blake Masters, a protégé of tech billionaire and Republican megadonor Peter Thiel, looks likely to prevail over a GOP field that includes businessman Jim Lamon and Brnovich. The winner will face Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., this fall.

In the race for secretary of state, state Rep. Mark Finchem, a close ally of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and an early adopter of campaign lies, appears to be in position to pull out a victory, although Ducey has endorsed his primary opponent. , the businessman Bo. Lane, who didn’t say the last election was stolen.

Then there’s the race for attorney general, where Trump-backed former Maricopa County District Attorney Abe Hamadeh faces a large field of challengers. Hamadeh reinforced Trump’s stolen campaign rhetoric.

Democracy advocates have for months zeroed in on the Arizona races as critical to the future of fair elections. Finchem, for example, sponsored a bill in the state House that would have given the legislature the ability to overturn election results.

Like the lake, he has also suggested he will not accept the results if he loses.

There are several high-profile matches elsewhere. In Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Tudor Dixon, a former conservative commentator and actress, benefited from the tumultuous stumbles of her opponents, winning the endorsement of both Trump and the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a of the strongest in Michigan. GOP politics.

But he faces a crowded field of challengers for the chance to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including Kevin Rinke, a self-funded former car dealer whose name is familiar to Detroit-area voters, Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor who gained the base. following on the right protesting Whitmer’s Covid policies and Ryan Kelley, a real estate broker who pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he participated in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters aimed at stopping his 2020 election certification.

In Missouri, Republicans will decide a hotly contested Senate primary between Attorney General Eric Schmidt, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens and Reps. Vicki Hartzler and Billy Long, R-Mo. On Monday, Trump said in a statement that he endorsed ERIC, choosing not to make a choice between Schmitt and Greitens. (There’s a third Eric in the race — the little-known Eric McElroy.)

Meanwhile, a trio of House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year are facing voters in the primary — Reps. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Dan Newhouse, R- Wash.

Democrats have few contested primaries on Tuesday. In Michigan, Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens are facing off in a primary against incumbents in suburban Detroit, the result of a redistricting process that pulled them into the same race. And in Missouri, Lucas Kunce, a self-proclaimed “populist,” is facing Anheuser-Busch heiress Trudy Busch Valentine and others for the Democratic state Senate nomination.

In Kansas, voters will determine the fate of abortion rights in the state by voting on a ballot measure that, if successful, would remove language protecting abortion rights from the state constitution and hand power to the legislature controlled by GOP to decide the issue.

It will be the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that American voters have voted on abortion.

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