Arizona Republicans poised to nominate election conspiracy theorist to run state elections

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Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem would be the latest election conspiracy theorist to win a Republican primary for secretary of state.

A right-wing Arizona state lawmaker who falsely believes the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and who was on the U.S. Capitol grounds during the violent and deadly insurrection on January 6, 2021, has a wide lead in the Republican primary race for Arizona secretary of state — a position that has the key role of overseeing the state's elections.

Polling released days before Arizona's Tuesday primary had state Rep. Mark Finchem with a double-digit lead over the next closest primary hopeful, businessman Beau Lane. Finchem led the field with 32%, with Lane a distant second at 11%.

While there are a number of election deniers and conspiracy theorists running for office as Republicans in 2022, Finchem is one of the most extreme.

In November 2020, Finchem held a sham "hearing" at an Arizona hotel with Trump's senior legal adviser Rudy Giuliani. Trump himself called into the meeting to spread lies about the election results.

Finchem also emailed the Department of Homeland Security in 2020 to request a "full-spectrum forensic examination" of Arizona's voting machines. He sent the email around the same time that other top Trump officials were seeking to get DHS to seize voting machines to conduct an audit to help stop the transition of power.

And on Jan. 6, 2021, Finchem was on the Capitol grounds when hordes of Trump supporters rioted in an effort to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Finchem claimed he did not go within 500 yards of the building, however video footage shows him near the Capitol steps when violence in the building had already begun.

His efforts led to a subpoena in February from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack.

According to the select committee, Finchem "advanced unsubstantiated claims about the election and helped organize an event in Phoenix, Arizona on November 30th, 2020 at which former President Trump's legal team and others spoke and advanced unproven claims of election and voter fraud. He was in Washington on January 6th, 2021, and stated that he had evidence to deliver to Vice President [Mike] Pence in an effort to postpone the awarding of electors."

What's more, after Biden was sworn in, Finchem was a key figure in the 2021 sham "audit" of Arizona's results, which was run by a Trump-supporting election denier with no experience in elections.

That "audit" — which ruined hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of voting equipment — confirmed that Biden won Arizona in 2020. Yet Finchem called the results "vindication" for his lies that the election was rife with fraud.

Election denialism is not the only baggage Finchem has.

He is a member of the far-right, anti-government extremist group the Oath Keepers, which the U.S. Department of Justice says had extensive ties to the violence that took place at the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Finchem has also spread multiple baseless and offensive conspiracy theories.

In 2017, he falsely said the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia — where a white supremacist killed one person and injured others when he drove his car into a group of anti-racism demonstrators — was a "Deep State PSYOP."

Finchem is also an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which the Federal Bureau of Investigations deems a domestic terror threat. QAnon supporters falsely believe that the government is run by a group of powerful elites who worship Satan and run a child sex ring.

Finchem attended a QAnon conference in 2021 in Las Vegas, has posted QAnon content on white supremacist websites, and once reportedly said that "a lot of people" in government are "involved in a pedophile network in the distribution of children."

Aside from Trump, Finchem has been endorsed by far-right figures such as Andrew Torba, the founder of the white supremacist website Gab.

Finchem is one of a number of election-denying Republicans running for secretary of state positions across the country.

In Nevada, Republicans nominated Jim Marchant as their candidate for secretary of state. Marchant was one of the fake Electoral College electors that Republicans wanted to use to install Trump for a second term. And in Michigan, Republicans are likely to nominate Kristina Karamo, a QAnon conspiracy theorist and election denier, as their secretary of state candidate.

If Finchem wins the GOP nomination, he will come one step closer to overseeing elections in Arizona.

On the Democratic side, veteran Adrian Fontes and state Rep. Reginald Bolding are battling it out for their party's nomination. Few public polls have been released in the race, but one survey showed Fontes with a wide lead.

Even some Republicans are worried about what Finchem's tenure as secretary of state would look like.

In an op-ed published Sunday, former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) wrote that Finchem "would take a wrecking ball" to the state's elections.

"Mark Finchem poses a direct threat to our state's democratic processes," Kolbe wrote.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.