Watch: Arizona Secretary of State candidates Fontes, Finchem face off in debate
PHOENIX — The public’s only scheduled chance to see the two Arizona candidates for secretary of state side-by-side will happen Thursday evening.
A 30-minute debate between Democrat Adrian Fontes and Republican Mark Finchem is sponsored by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
The debate will be broadcast at 5 p.m. on Arizona PBS and moderated by longtime Arizona Horizon host Ted Simons, who has handled Clean Elections debates for more than a decade.
The secretary acts as Arizona’s top election official, oversees many business filings and is next in line if the governor leaves office prematurely.
Fontes is an attorney and former Marine who ran primary ads saying he would protect voting rights for all Arizonans and that election deniers like Finchem were making a full-fledged attack on democracy.
Finchem insists the courts and the media are ignoring legitimate concerns about problems with the 2020 election. He’s a retired Kalamazoo, Michigan, police officer who has been a member of the Arizona House since 2015.
Fontes said Finchem’s statements are detached from reality and that makes it difficult “to have a cogent debate.”
Finchem was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and has been subpoenaed by the Department of Justice as it investigates the insurrection.
He’s joined a lawsuit with the Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, that seeks to require all ballots to be hand-counted in a state that saw 3.4 million ballots cast in 2020 covering more than 100 races. A federal judge dismissed the case in August but they have appealed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.