Mark Finchem, who led efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona, was at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021; He won the Republican secretary of state’s primary on Tuesday, bringing him one step closer to an office that would allow him to oversee future elections in the emerging battleground.
Arizona has been among the states at the center of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. If Finchem, a state representative, prevails in November, he could wield enormous power in the state’s electoral system in two years, whether Trump is back on the ballot or not.
Finchem’s avid embrace of campaign conspiracies won him Trump’s endorsement and made him the front-runner in a crowded municipal field that featured another election skeptic, a senator who supported several new laws to restrict voting rights and a political newcomer that had support of an old Republican establishment that has largely lost control of an Arizona Democratic Party that has drifted to the far right.
Part of the so-called America First patchwork of secretary of state candidates rejecting the election, he will join Nevada’s Jim Marchant and Michigan’s Kristina Karamo as the most prominent right-wing Republicans vying to gain seats to exert influence in key state elections. .
Finchem might be the most radical of the bunch. He was once a member of the Oathsa far-right militia group, and took a leading role in Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election: He met with Trump lawyers and advisers, including Rudy Giuliani; shortly after the election to claim that substantial fraud had occurred in Arizona and was involved in the push to appoint “bogus electors” to help rig the election. He was in Washington during the January 6 riot, and footage from that day showed that he was outside the Capitol during the riot.
Finchem told his supporters that would not have certified 2020 Election Results He was responsible for and supported the CyberNinjas’ conspiratorial “audit” of election results in Maricopa County, Arizona, which failed to find evidence of widespread fraud despite being expressly designed to do so. His role in the fake voter scheme and other attempts to subvert the election earned him a summons by the congressional committee investigating the rebellion.
Already, he has threatened to challenge the legitimacy of the November election if he loses:
“There will be no concession speech from this guy,” Finchem said at a campaign fundraiser in late June. according to the Arizona Republic. “I will demand a 100% hand count (of ballots) if there is even the slightest hint of any impropriety. And I would urge the next governor to do the same.”
The biggest concern may be what Finchem will do if he wins. Arizona Republicans responded to the GOP’s first presidential loss there since 1996 by targeting voting rights, and Finchem pledged to bolster those efforts.
Finchem argued that early voting and voting by mail are major sources of fraud, without providing evidence to support his claims. He challenged the constitutionality of early voting on dubious grounds and suggested it would become one of his main targets despite the fact that 90% of Arizonans regularly vote before Election Day. He wants to force Arizona officials to count all the ballots, a nod to right-wing conspiracy theories that voting machines rigged the results for Biden.
Finchem also supports efforts to give the state legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans power to reject election results ― a practice that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority may bless in a case it will hear this fall. (Arizona law died in the state legislature This year.)
Finchem’s primary victory could boost Democratic hopes of retaining the seat, which incumbent Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) left to run for governor, even in a year that could favor the GOP overall.
But it also brings him one step closer to a position that would potentially allow him to challenge the 2024 results if they don’t break in the GOP’s favor. Arizona Democrats, in fact, take it as a virtual certainty that Finchem would attempt to fend off any future GOP losses in the state.
“Not just Arizona, but our country could be in for a constitutional crisis” if Finchem wins in November, state Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, one of two candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, told HuffPost this week. Foreign.
“He’s communicated the fact that he’s not going to certify in an election that Donald Trump won’t win,” said Adrian Fontes, a former Maricopa County recorder who oversaw the 2020 election and is also seeking the Democratic nomination. “He has no integrity. It has no price. He has no intention of performing the office, under the oath that he will swear falsely. So there is no question in my mind. It just won’t do the job.”