What to watch: Trump effect looms large in Arizona’s primary election
Donald Trump’s endorsed candidates in Tuesday’s Republican primary election in Arizona all have one thing in common: They have loudly disseminated misinformation about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, despite election officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying there is no credible evidence the race was tainted.
In the governor’s race, Trump has backed former television news anchor Kari Lake, who has said that she would not have certified Arizona’s election results in 2020. Lake faces businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, who is endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a staunch defender of the 2020 election, is strongly favored to win the Democratic nomination for governor.
In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Trump has backed tech investor Blake Masters as the candidate to go up against Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly in the fall. Masters, whose campaign has been bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, has called for reducing legal immigration and espoused the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming Democrats are trying to “replace Americans who were born here.”
Attorney General Mark Brnovich, another Senate candidate, has been weighed down by lackluster fundraising and fierce criticism from Trump, who says Brnovich did little to advance his election fraud claims. Another top candidate, Jim Lamon, the founder of a solar energy firm, was a fake elector for Trump in 2020, signing a certificate falsely saying that the then-president had won the state.
The Republican primary for secretary of state includes Trump-backed legislator Mark Finchem, a state representative who worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss; state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who introduced a bill to let legislators ignore election results and choose their own presidential electors; and state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has long pushed to overhaul election laws. The GOP establishment has rallied around advertising executive Beau Lane in the race.
Ron Watkins, who has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory, is considered a long shot in his House run. Watkins, a Republican, served as the longtime administrator of the online message boards that became the home of the anonymous “Q.” The conspiracy theory is centered around the baseless belief that Trump waged a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and that a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters secretly runs the globe.
In the state Legislature, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified at a Jan. 6 hearing about Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 election, faces a Trump-backed candidate in his bid to run for the state Senate.
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