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Steve Bannon speaks at campaign rally for Kari Lake before serving 4-month prison sentence

The Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee campaigned with Bannon, who in July was found guilty of contempt of Congress.

By Emily Singer - November 02, 2022
Steve Bannon
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 21: Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump, leaves federal court in Washington, D.C., after being sentenced to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for defying a congressional subpoena, on Friday, October 21, 2022. Bannon was found guilty on contempt of Congress charges for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake on Tuesday held a campaign event with Steve Bannon, the former senior adviser to former President Donald Trump.

Lake is challenging Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the governor’s race. Bannon, who is awaiting a date to report to prison after he was sentenced for a conviction on charges of contempt of Congress, was a surprise speaker at a campaign rally on Nov. 1. Lake introduced Bannon as a “modern-day George Washington.”

A jury found Bannon guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress in July for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. A judge sentenced Bannon to four months in prison in October.

Bannon played a major role in the Trump campaign’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. During his speech on Tuesday, he made antisemitic dog whistles, claiming that the Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros is trying to keep Lake out of the governor’s mansion.

With Lake standing next to him, Bannon continued to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

“It started here back in November of 2020. It started right here. And it’s going to end right here,” Bannon said.”Divine Providence works in mysterious ways. Arizona has a rendezvous with destiny next Tuesday.”

President Joe Biden narrowly won Arizona in 2020, flipping a state that Trump had won in 2016. A Republican-led review of the vote total in Maricopa County, aimed at proving that the election had been stolen from Trump, instead found 360 extra votes for Biden last year.

Lake has made election denialism a primary focus of her campaign.

She has called for Hobbs to be jailed for overseeing the last election and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit that sought to force a hand count of every ballot in the state. Hand counts have been shown to be expensive and prone to error, and can take weeks to carry out. Ballot counters in one Nevada county recently spent seven hours hand-counting just 317 ballots voted in the primary election in June.

While he waits to find out when he must report to prison, Bannon has been working to get election deniers like Lake elected across the country. He has also used his podcast to encourage right-wing Republicans to sign up as poll workers to help sow uncertainty and disrupt the election process.

One lie Republicans have spread during the runup to the midterm elections is that ballot drop boxes make fraud easier; both Trump and Bannon have repeated this lie. Experts note that right-wing activists who tried to find evidence of fraud through the use of ballot drop boxes came up empty-handed and that the boxes, which are tamper-proof and waterproof, make it easier for people to vote by mail.

In response to partisan fearmongering, conspiracy theory-supporting organizations have organized armed poll watchers to prowl around ballot drop boxes in Arizona. Local groups sued, arguing the armed watchers were intimidating voters, and on Tuesday a federal judge ordered the watchers to stand at least 250 feet away from the drop boxes.

Lake currently has a 2.6-point lead in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political forecasting outlet, rates the race a toss-up.

Democrats and even some Republicans have warned that a Lake victory would be bad for democracy. In an ad produced by her political action committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) urged voters to vote against Lake and Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for Arizona secretary of state, who is also an election denier.

“If you care about the survival of our republic, we cannot give people power who will not honor elections,” Cheney says in the ad.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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