October 6, 2022


Many Republicans who support former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud are winning primaries in 2020, with some advancing to positions where they could influence the election administration if they win the general election this fall.

Primary elections in five states this week provided the latest examples of nominating contests that have chosen candidates for election watchdog positions who have sworn allegiance to Mr. Trump, a trend that emerged earlier this year in Pennsylvania and Nevada.

Arizona’s still-unknown GOP gubernatorial race is being watched especially closely because of its potential implications for the 2024 election. The battleground state recorded the nation’s second-closest result in the 2020 presidential race, with Mr. Biden securing his victory there by just three-tenths of a percentage point.

Kari Lake, a former TV journalist who is backed by Mr. Trump, had a narrow lead over real estate developer Karrin Taylor Robson with about 80 percent of the vote counted, according to the Associated Press.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson shakes hands with former Gov. Jan Brewer at a rally with supporters late Tuesday.


Photo:

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ms. Lake has focused much of her campaign on claims that President Biden’s victory in Arizona was rigged, even though state election officials found no widespread evidence of it and a Democratic-backed audit confirmed the Mr. Biden’s victory.

Ms Taylor Robson, who has the support of former Vice President Mike Pence and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, criticized Ms Lake for alleging without evidence that voter fraud had already taken place before Tuesday’s primary. He told CNN that the 2020 election “wasn’t fair, to say the least,” and that “we have the wrong man in the White House.”

In the November general election, either Ms. Lake or Ms. Taylor Robson will face the state’s current secretary of state, Democrat Katie Hobbs, who won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Hours after her victory, Ms Hobbs ran a new TV ad in Arizona highlighting “attacks on our electoral system” and suggesting the audit of the 2020 results was “a needless waste of our tax dollars”.

If Ms. Lake wins, she would be the fourth high-profile winner of the Arizona primary backed by Mr. Trump, who has made allegations of voter fraud.

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Mark Finchem, a state House representative who has acknowledged ties to the far-right militia group Oath Keepers, has won a crowded primary for the GOP nomination for Arizona’s GOP secretary of state nomination. As in many states, the position’s duties include overseeing the election process.

Mr Finchem, who has the support of Mr Trump, wants to eliminate early voting and is suing in federal court to block the use of vote counting machines in Arizona. His Democratic challenger remained unknown Wednesday with a race too close to call between former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and Arizona House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding.

Mark Finchem, who wants to eliminate early voting, has won the GOP nomination for secretary of state in Arizona.


Photo:

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Arizona Republicans also selected former county attorney Abraham Hamadeh, a Trump-backed candidate who has claimed “evidence of rigged 2020 elections,” as their nominee for state attorney general.

Blake Masters, another Trump-endorsed candidate who has alleged widespread voter fraud in 2020, won the GOP nomination for US Senate in Arizona. He is set to face incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November.

In the wake of the 2020 election, Mr. Trump’s campaign and allies have lost dozens of lawsuits across the country challenging the results. The Justice Department said there was no evidence of widespread fraud. And a bipartisan coalition of local, state and federal election officials has declared the 2020 race the safest U.S. election in history.

Supporters of Mr. Trump’s allegations of voter fraud also scored victories this week in Michigan, another key presidential battleground.

Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator endorsed by Mr. Trump who falsely said he won her state in 2020, has secured the GOP nomination for governor and is set to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Congressional scrutiny is up for grabs, and candidates are eager to sway voters heading into November. WSJ’s Joshua Jamerson explains how Republicans and Democrats are framing the debate around key issues like the economy, abortion, gun violence, immigration and student loan forgiveness. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann

Christina Karamo, a Michigan college educator who has pleaded guilty to fraud in the 2020 election, is the presumptive Republican nominee for Michigan secretary of state.

The presumptive GOP nominee for Michigan attorney general, Matthew DePerno, has been heavily involved in the state’s 2020 election challenges and has vowed to investigate those involved in elections there.

While Mr. Trump’s record for helping to appoint GOP denialists is strong, it’s not perfect.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who rejected the then-president’s call in 2020 to find enough votes to win the state, easily survived a GOP primary challenge in May.

That was also the case for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. Mr. Trump had been fixated on trying to defeat Mr. Kemp because of Mr. Kemp’s reluctance to help throw off the 2020 election that showed Mr. Trump had lost Georgia.

In next week’s Wisconsin Republican primary for governor, the leading candidates have all backed the former president’s allegations of widespread election fraud in 2020. They have also pledged to eliminate or dramatically overhaul the Wisconsin Election Commission,

a bipartisan agency that oversees state elections created by Republicans in 2015.

In May, Pennsylvania Republicans nominated Doug Mastriano, a far-right state lawmaker who was closely involved in and endorsed by Mr. Trump’s bid to overturn the election, as their gubernatorial candidate. Mr. Mastriano will face Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, in November.

The governor of Pennsylvania has the power to appoint the secretary of state, who oversees the election. That makes this year’s gubernatorial election there especially important because the state is likely to be a top battleground again in the 2024 presidential election.

Nevada Republican voters in June selected former state Rep. Jim Marchand, who is repeating claims that the 2020 election was stolen by Mr. Trump, as their nominee for secretary of state. He will face Democrat Cisco Aguilar in an open seat race.

Write to John McCormick at mccormick.john@wsj.com

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