Arizona GOP Gubernatorial Primary Too Close to Call While Election Deniers Win Big

Arizona has been a hotbed of false claims of election fraud since President Biden edged Donald Trump there in 2020. Many of the conservatives fueling these claims decided to see if they couldn’t get elected to positions of power so they can help rig future elections. The state’s Republican voters indulged them on Tuesday, handing the party’s nomination for Senate to Blake Masters and for secretary of state to Mark Finchem. However, as of early Wednesday morning, the race for the gubernatorial nomination remained too close to call, as Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson were separated by just several thousand votes with only 78% of votes counted.

Lake, Masters, and Finchem have, to varying degrees, alleged that the 2020 election was fraudulent — and all three received Trump’s endorsement.

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Lake has been one of the nation’s most vocal pushers of the Big Lie. She has even called it “disqualifying” and “sickening” for her opponents to refrain from saying that the 2020 election was stolen. She’s cited the state’s “forensic audit” of the election results to back up her false claims. The partisan “audit,” which was performed by a group called Cyber Ninjas and contracted by conservatives, raised questions about the election but still confirmed Biden’s win in the state.

Masters won the primary easily over Jim Lamon and will now face incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) in the general election. Masters, whose campaign has been backed by right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, has revolved around racism and a fierce opposition to gun reform. He’s also said Democrats “pulled out all the stops” to steal the 2020 election, satisfying the prerequisite to receive Trump’s endorsement, which he landed in early June. “Blake knows that the ‘Crime of the Century’ took place, he will expose it and also, never let it happen again,” Trump wrote in a statement.

Finchem’s efforts to push the Big Lie eclipse pretty much everyone. Finchem attended the rally at the Ellipse ahead of the Capitol riot, and in the final days of Trump’s presidency asked the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a “a full spectrum forensic examination” of voting machines. He continued to push to overturn the election results from there. He was one of the main backers of the partisan “audit” that wound up revealing Biden won the state, and has palled around with conspiracy theorists like Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, and Trump election lawyer Jenna Ellis. If Finchem goes on to win the general election in November, he’d become the state’s top election official.

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