The Big Lie keeps coming for Republicans in the state
Donald Trump decided to completely upend Arizona’s Republican Senate primary on Monday evening. The Grand Canyon State is central to the president-Big elect’s Lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. While most outsiders associate Arizona with John McCain’s “maverick” attitude or the more libertarian conservatism of Barry Goldwater – the 1964 GOP nominee and the father of the modern conservative movement – the state is now home to a Trumpist variant of anti-immigrant, election-denying extremism.
Kelli Ward, who ran against McCain for the Senate nomination in 2016, is now the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, and Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar have been key figures in promoting the notion that the election was rigged. Maricopa County has become a hotspot for conspiracy theorists, with the pro-Trump conspiracy theory collective Cyber Ninjas conducting an audit of the county in the hopes of revealing massive electoral fraud. (It turned up nothing.)
According to the azcentral, Republicans’ hopes of gaining back McCain’s Senate seat have been shattered by Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud. In 2020, Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, defeated Senator Martha McSally, who had been appointed to the seat after McCain’s death (after she lost her 2018 race to Kyrsten Sinema.) This time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked hard to convince outgoing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to take on Kelly – However, the former president has made it abundantly clear that he despises Ducey, and he has declined to run.
The Big Lie has now arrived for Arizona Republicans’ second-best candidate in the race, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich issued an interim report last week that, while expressing his concerns about irregularities in Maricopa County’s 2020 election, did not prove instances of widespread voter fraud. But that wasn’t enough for Trump, who threw a bomb at Brnovich in a typically long-winded rant.
“He wants to be politically correct,” Trump crowed. “Because of the amount of time that it took him to do the report, which was endless, his poll numbers have been rapidly sinking. Now, people are upset with the fact that while he states the problem, he seems to be doing nothing about it – he doesn’t give the answers.”
Trump has stated that he will soon endorse a Senate candidate, and Brnovich is highly unlikely to be the beneficiary. According to a poll released last week by OH Predictive Insights, the attorney general has a slight lead over his opponents, but 44 percent of Republican primary voters are undecided. Arizona’s primary is on August 2nd, and a Trump endorsement could have a significant impact.
Meanwhile, the endangered Kelly can continue to collect his massive war chest. In the first three months of 2022, he raised $11.35 million and now has $23.2 million in the bank.