Arizona has a documented history of producing some of the least qualified, most galling figures in political history.
For the hell of it: Google “Evan Mecham.”
This year’s GOP primaries in Arizona are an homage to that history of right-wing derangement. Take your pick: In virtually every race, you’ll find candidates with questionable — if not laughable — experience, espousing dangerous viewpoints that aren’t nearly as funny. And frighteningly, each of them has at least a puncher’s chance at wielding ultraconservative power in a state with one of the largest and fastest-growing populations in the country.
Let’s survey the landscape.
The two top Republican candidates for governor are election-denying, gun-obsessed, conspiracy theory-pushing extremists. Kari Lake, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is a former news anchor who has openly embraced QAnon-linked activists and at least one Nazi sympathizer. Karrin Taylor Robson is slightly less erratic, which has earned her status as the establishment candidate in the primary. But, to be clear, she also parrots Trump’s baseless allegations about unfairness in the 2020 election. And both have embraced the GOP’s bizarre opposition to drag queens. (Lake, however, previously partied with a drag performer, which Robson turned into an ad.)
In the GOP primary for attorney general, two of the frontrunners, lawyers Abraham Hamadeh and Rodney Glassman, are pro-Trump election deniers who would become the state’s top law enforcement officer were they to win the general election. Hamadeh, who’s 31 years old, has been accused of using some financial chicanery to inflate his fundraising numbers and secure Trump’s endorsement. (Hamadeh has denied any wrongdoing.)
Secretary of state
Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, a Trump-supporting QAnon conspiracy theorist, is the one to watch in Tuesday’s GOP primary for secretary of state. Finchem, who has identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers extremist group in 2014, was photographed outside the Capitol as rioters beat and overcame police on Jan 6, 2021. He celebrated the people who attempted to stall and overturn certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and he’s been subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee. Finchem and Lake, the gubernatorial candidate, filed a joint motion to ban Arizona from using voting machines in the upcoming election, and you can rest assured he’d use his position to entrench conservative rule across Arizona in all sorts of anti-democratic ways if he wins the primary on Tuesday and the general election in November.
You’ll remember some of the figures in the GOP Senate primary if you’ve been following along with The ReidOut Blog in recent months. The three GOPers most likely to win are all happily anti-democratic, and each have been featured in past posts.
Blake Masters, the Trump-endorsed candidate, is a bigoted technocrat who has spread lies about Jan. 6, said Black people are responsible for America’s gun problem, and has shown admiration for the unabomber. A pro-Masters super PAC aired this incredibly racist ad attacking primary opponent — and fellow election denier — Jim Lamon.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also in the running. He’s behind a racist lawsuit filed last year claiming immigrants are worsening the climate crisis. Brnovich is a longshot, because he refuted Trump’s election fraud claims as attorney general (before softening his language when the primary started).
It may be tempting to read from this list of political misfits and think Democrats are in for a cake walk come November. That’d be in democracy’s best interest. But there are no guarantees in Arizona politics, and any one of these candidates being on the ballot this fall will mean they’ve gotten closer to higher office than any of us should be comfortable with.