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Updates from primary election day in Arizona

Kari Lake and Blake Masters
Kari Lake and Blake Masters at a rally during Country Thunder in Florence, Arizona, in January 2022.

11:56 p.m.: Most Trump-endorsed candidates are leading their GOP primaries

With one exception, former President Donald Trump’s endorsements in Arizona appear to have paid off.

A slate of election-denying candidates took early leads in the polls on Tuesday evening in GOP primaries for everything from the U.S. Senate to secretary of state:

  • Former venture capitalist Blake Masters leads a crowded field of Republicans vying for the chance to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in November.
  • U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar easily fended off a handful of GOP challengers trying to unseat the controversial lawmaker.
  • Election-denying state Rep. Mark Finchem holds a commanding lead in the GOP primary for secretary of state, the race to become the next top election official in Arizona.
  • Political newcomer Abraham Hamadeh rode Trump’s endorsement to an early lead in a six-way race to be the GOP’s nominee for Arizona attorney general.

The lone outlier so far is Kari Lake, whom Trump endorsed for governor nearly a year ago. Trump’s support helped Lake command the field for much of the campaign, but developer Karrin Taylor Robson took a healthy early lead in the polls on Tuesday night — though Lake is expected to chip away at that lead in the hours and days to come.
Still, it’s been a positive night for Trump, who faced challenges from old friends and allies like former Vice President Mike Pence and current Gov. Doug Ducey — both of whom endorsed Taylor Robson and were critical of Lake.

While Trump’s candidates routinely spent their campaigns crying foul, without evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen, Ducey made it a point to support Republicans who are looking past the past — like businessman Beau Lane, who’s running for secretary of state.

But the support of establishment Republicans in Arizona appears to have its limits, as Lane trailed Finchem by more than 10 percentage points as of 11 p.m.

If Lake can overcome her early deficit against Taylor Robson, it could be a clean sweep for Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona, a state plagued by election conspiracies since his loss in 2020.

11:28 p.m.: David Farnsworth leads Rusty Bowers in state Senate LD 10

Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who angered many in his own party by rebuffing attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, faces a resounding defeat from a Trump-backed opponent in the Republican primary for state Senate in Legislative District 10.

As of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, former state Sen. David Farnsworth led in the race with 61% of the vote, compared to just shy of 39% for Bowers, who was termed out of the Arizona House and instead running for a Senate seat.

The legislative race drew national attention after Bowers faced backlash for his testimony before the Jan. 6 committee. In June, Bowers detailed the efforts former President Donald Trump and his allies made to try to convince Bowers to overturn the 2020 vote. Bowers declined, and instead stood by the results of the popular vote in Arizona, which clearly showed Trump lost the state and its 11 Electoral College votes.

After Bowers’ trip to Capitol Hill, Trump endorsed Farnsworth, as did the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party in a rebuke of Bowers, a longtime and well-respected lawmaker.

Farnsworth, like most Trump-endorsed candidates, says he believes the 2020 election was rigged, but has no evidence to prove it.

10:56 p.m.: Joe Arpaio trails opponent in Fountain Hills mayor race

Joe Arpaio, the 90-year-old former Phoenix metro sheriff who was ousted by voters frustrated with his headline-grabbing tactics and legal troubles, is trailing his opponent in the race for mayor of the affluent suburb where he has lived for more than two decades.

The former six-term sheriff of Maricopa County said late Tuesday night that the vote totals so far came from early ballots and that he was awaiting the totals of in-person voting in his bid to unseat two-term Mayor Ginny Dickey.

The stakes for Arpaio in Tuesday's election are far smaller than when he served as the top law enforcement officer for 4 million people as the six-term sheriff of Maricopa County.

Now he is seeking the top leadership post in a community of about 24,000 on the edge of metro Phoenix.

“My secret weapon has always been: Get to the people,” Arpaio said. “You sure need that to get elected in a small town.”

Dickey said that when she first learned Arpaio was running against her, she was unsure how his candidacy would affect the race. She ultimately concluded that it didn't change it very much except that he has a fundraising advantage and notoriety and she did not change her campaigning.

“I believe I have run in the same way I always have,” Dickey said.

Nearly six years out of office, Arpaio acknowledged that it’s harder for him to get his political message out. But Arpaio rejects criticism that he should walk away from public life.

“I am still in good health, and I will keep fighting for what the people need,” Arpaio said. “It may be corny. What else is there?”

Arpaio was crushed by a Democratic challenger in 2016 after 24 years in office as sheriff and was convicted the next year of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, though he was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.

Arpaio then finished third in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 and second in the GOP primary in a 2020 bid to win back the sheriff’s post.

In both of those attempts, Arpaio lost the vote in Fountain Hills.

Like Arpaio, Dickey is a longtime member of the community. She served previously on a school board and on the Fountain Hills Town Council.

Arpaio, a skilled political fundraiser who spent more than $12 million in his 2016 sheriff’s campaign, has shelled out $161,000 in the mayor’s race — six times the amount spent by Dickey.

Before the federal government and the courts stripped away his immigration powers, Arpaio led 20 large-scale traffic patrols that targeted immigrants and more than 80 business raids to bust people working in the United States without permission.

While his defiant streak played well with voters for many years, Arpaio faced heavy criticism for taking on policies that he knew were controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills.

Though he billed himself as the toughest sheriff in America, his agency botched the investigations of more than 400 sex-crimes complaints made to his office.

Arpaio said he doesn't worry about his past haunting him in the mayor's race.

“All that baggage didn’t make a difference, except in 2016. But I had baggage in 2012 — big baggage,” Arpaio said. “And I got reelected.”

10:56 p.m.: Hobbs wins Democratic primary for governor, Taylor Robson takes lead over Lake on GOP side

While Katie Hobbs handily won the Democratic nomination for governor in Arizona, a head-to-head race on the Republican side between political newcomers Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson is too close to call.

The Associated Press called the Democratic primary for Hobbs almost immediately after the first round of results were announced. With an estimate of 66% of votes counted, she easily led her last challenger in the race, former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez, with nearly 74% of the vote.

Hobbs, who as secretary of state made a name for herself defending the integrity of the 2020 election in Arizona, will face one of two possible Republicans — neither of whom have positive things to say about the election two years ago.

Taylor Robson took an early lead, with 49% of the vote as of roughly 10 p.m. Lake trailed with nearly 41% of the vote, though political observers expect the race to tighten overnight and in the days to come — Lake’s supporters have little faith in Arizona’s early ballot mailing system, likely thanks in part to Lake spending much of her campaign bashing Arizona’s elections as fraudulent and suing to alter state voting procedures.

What that means is Lake may gain support from voters who waited until election day to cast their ballots in person, or at least waited to turn in early ballots on election day.

But Taylor Robson’s campaign has pointed to the land developer’s possible advantage with independents — Arizona’s unaffiliated voters are allowed to pick and choose which party’s primary they want to participate in, and many believe Taylor Robson’s brand of politics will play well with conservative independents.

Taylor Robson spent millions of dollars, much of it her own wealth, pitching herself to voters as the more reasonable-sounding Republican in the race. She was embraced by establishment Republicans, both locally and nationally, including current Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence.

As for Lake, the early results are a disappointment for a candidate who led in most every poll up until election day. But Taylor Robson’s money appears to have been well spent, as she slowly caught up to Lake in June and July.

Lake, a former local news anchor, must now hope an endorsement from former President Donald Trump — which helped her surge to an early lead in the race nearly a year ago — can carry her across the finish line.

If not, expect her to take a page out of the Trump playbook by claiming the election was rigged. Lake has already spent the past few weeks baselessly claiming fraud in the 2022 vote.

ron watkins
Ron Watkins speaking with the media at a "Save America" rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence, Arizona, Jan. 15, 2022.

10:39 p.m.: Candidate linked to QAnon dead last in congressional primary

Ron Watkins, one of the most prominent figures in the QAnon conspiracy movement, will not be heading to Congress this year.

Watkins was in dead last in early returns in his Republican primary for Arizona’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District. He served as the longtime administrator of online message boards that helped seed the conspiracy movement whose adherents believe a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters secretly runs the globe.

Watkins no longer runs the message boards and has denied fueling the QAnon movement. He said he was running for Congress because he hopes to “fix the machine from the inside.”

He was considered a long shot in the crowded GOP field, having been outpaced in campaign fundraising by the other candidates.

State Rep. Walter Blackman and Eli Crane, a former Navy SEAL who owns a bottle opener business and was endorsed by Trump, were at the top of the field Tuesday night. The winner will take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom O′Halleran in November in a district that favors Republicans.

10:22 p.m.: Navajo President Jonathan Nez holds lead in tribe’s primary

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez took an early lead in the tribe’s primary election Tuesday, followed by Buu Nygren, a former vice presidential candidate.

Navajo voters were deciding which two of 15 presidential hopefuls they want to advance to the tribe’s general election in November. Nez and Nygren were leading the pack with around 80 of the 110 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from the Navajo Election Administration.

They were followed by attorney Justin Jones and former tribal Attorney General Ethel Branch. Potentially thousands of votes were still outstanding late Tuesday from some of the most populous places on the reservation.

Candidates set up tents across the Navajo Nation on Tuesday, offering fry bread and other food to voters as they made a final campaign push. Election day is a social event on the Navajo Nation, though some precautions were still in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The candidates’ platforms included economic development, ensuring Navajos have basic infrastructure like running water and electricity, and finding ways to preserve the Navajo language. They also vowed to press the federal government to fulfill its duty to provide public safety, health care and education to the tribe.

More than 123,000 Navajos were registered to vote in the primary that’s held the same day as Arizona’s primary. The tribe generally sees around a 50% voter turnout. Polls closed at 7 p.m.

Election workers were reporting results from a sports center in the tribal capital of Window Rock that was closed to the public this year because of coronavirus precautions.

The Navajo Nation is largest Native American reservation in the U.S., spanning 27,000 square miles (69,930 square kilometers) of high desert, forests, wind-swept mesas and mountains bordering New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Its population of 406,000 is second to only the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Nez says he will bring continuity to the tribal government at a time it’s tasked with spending more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding.

Nygren, who was a vice presidential candidate in 2018, sees himself as a diplomat who can work with tribal lawmakers.

Jones has said he’ll unravel Navajo regulations to better support small businesses.

Branch is among six vying to become the first woman to lead the Navajo Nation. The others are: educator Dolly Mason; scholar Leslie Tsosie; Chinle Chapter President Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch; Frankie Davis, who has advocated for extracting natural resources; former New Mexico state legislator Sandra Jeff; and Emily Ellison, who says she will push the federal government to give the Navajo Nation title to its land if elected.

The other candidates are: Greg Bigman, chairman of the Diné College Board of Regents; former Navajo Vice President Frank Dayish; Ts’ah Bii Kin Chapter manager Earl Sombrero; and Dineh Benally and Kevin Cody, both of whom sought the tribal presidency in 2018.

Donald Trump Country Thunder
Former President Donald Trump addresses supporters at a rally during Country Thunder in Florence, Arizona, in January 2022.

7:08 p.m.: Arizona GOP primary tests power of Trump’s election lies

The Republican Party’s embrace of Donald Trump’s election lies will be tested Tuesday as voters in Arizona choose between candidates who say they wouldn’t have certified the results of the 2020 campaign and those who argue it's time to move on.

The former president has endorsed and campaigned for a slate of contenders who support his falsehoods, most prominently former television news anchor Kari Lake in the race for governor. Lake, who says she would have refused to certify President Joe Biden’s narrow Arizona victory, faces Karrin Taylor Robson, a lawyer and businesswoman who says the GOP should focus on the future despite an election she has called “unfair.”

And in the race to oversee elections as secretary of state, Trump is also backing a state lawmaker who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and claims the former president was cheated out of victory.

As the midterm primary season enters its final stretch this month, the Arizona races are poised to provide important clues about the GOP’s direction. Victories by Trump-backed candidates could provide the former president with allies who hold sway over the administration of elections as he considers another bid for the White House in 2024. Defeats, however, might suggest openness in the party to a different path forward.

“I think the majority of the people, and a lot of people that are supporters of Trump, they want to move on,” said former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who is backing Robson. “I mean, that was two years ago. Let’s go. Let’s move."

Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator, won the GOP primary for Michigan governor, emerging atop a field of little-known conservatives days after Trump endorsed her. She will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the Republican nomination for senator. Voters in Kansas were the first to weigh in on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court revoked a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. And two Republican House members from Washington state who voted to impeach Trump are facing primary challengers.

But the contests are especially salient in Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold that has become more favorable to Democrats in recent years because of explosive growth in and around Phoenix. The primary and the fall election will provide insight into whether Biden's success here in 2020 was a onetime event or the onset of a long-term shift away from the GOP.

With such high stakes, Arizona has been central to efforts by Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Biden’s victory with false claims of fraud.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed. A hand recount led by Trump supporters in Arizona’s largest county found no proof of a stolen election and concluded Biden's margin of victory was larger than the official count.

Though Trump is still the most popular figure inside the GOP, his efforts to influence primary elections this year have yielded mixed results. His preferred candidates in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania prevailed in their primaries.

But in Georgia, another state that is central to Trump’s election lies, his handpicked candidate for governor was defeated by more than 50 percentage points. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state was also renominated over a Trump-backed primary rival.

The former president is hoping he’ll have more success in Arizona, where the incumbent governor, Doug Ducey, can't run for reelection. That could give Trump a better opportunity than in Georgia to influence the winner.

Lake is well known in much of the state after anchoring the evening news in Phoenix for more than two decades. She’s now running as a fierce critic of the mainstream media, which she says is unfair to Republicans, and other enemies of Trump's Make America Great Again Movement, including the McCain family.

A vocal supporter of Trump’s election lies, Lake says her campaign is “already detecting some stealing going on" in her own race, but she has repeatedly refused to provide any evidence for the claim.

Robson, whose housing developer husband is one of the state’s richest men, is largely self-financing her campaign. The GOP establishment, growing increasingly comfortable creating distance from Trump, has rallied around her over the past month with a series of endorsements from Ducey, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence.

The groundswell of establishment support for Robson has drawn national scrutiny to a race for what it says about the GOP base ahead of the crucial presidential primary in two years.

“Everyone wants to try to make this some kind of proxy for 2024,” said Christie, who ran for president in 2016. “Believe me, I’ve been through enough of these to know that 2024 will be decided by the people who step up to the plate and ’24 and how they perform or don’t perform at that time.”

Robson is running a largely old-school Republican campaign focused on cutting taxes and regulations, securing the border and advancing school choice. She has also emphasized Lake’s prior support for Democrats, including a $350 contribution to the last Democratic president.

“I can’t vote for someone who supported Barack Obama,” said Travis Fillmore, 36, a firearms instructor from Tempe who planned to vote for Robson. He said he remains a Trump backer and believes the 2020 election was stolen from him, but Lake's support for Obama was disqualifying.

On the Democratic side, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is the front-runner against Marco Lopez, a former mayor of Nogales and border enforcement official during President Barack Obama’s administration.

As Arizona’s top elections official, Hobbs endeared herself to Democrats with an impassioned defense of the integrity of the 2020 election, a stance that has drawn death threats. However, she’s been weighed down by a discrimination case won by a Black policy adviser from Hobbs’ time in the Legislature.

In the Senate race, Trump is backing Blake Masters, a 35-year-old first-time candidate who has spent most of his career working for billionaire Peter Thiel, who is bankrolling his campaign. Masters is emphasizing cultural grievances that animate the right, including critical race theory and allegations of big tech censorship.

Until Trump’s endorsement, the race had no clear front-runner between Masters, businessman Jim Lamon and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, all of whom jockeyed for his support.

Lamon says Trump made a mistake in endorsing Masters and is digging into his own fortune to highlight Masters’ ties to technology firms and his writings as a college student supporting open borders. Lamon signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won Arizona in 2020 and that he was one of the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

Trump soured on Brnovich and may have torpedoed his campaign when the attorney general’s election fraud investigation failed to produce criminal charges against election officials.

The eventual winner in the primary will take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in the fall.

The Republican race for secretary of state includes Mark Finchem, a Trump-backed candidate who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Shawnna Bolick, a state lawmaker who has pushed for legislation allowing the Legislature to overturn the will of the voters and decide which candidate gets the state’s 11 electoral votes for president. The GOP establishment has rallied around advertising executive Beau Lane, who says there were no widespread problems with the 2020 election.

Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who gave testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee about Trump’s pressure campaign following the 2020 election, faces a Trump-backed challenger in his bid to move up to the state Senate.

3:55 p.m.: House Speaker Rusty Bowers tries to fend off Trump voters

Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers faces voters Tuesday and the anger of supporters of former President Donald Trump after he rejected pleas to help overturn the 2020 election results and testified before Congress about the efforts.

Bowers is trying to move to the state Senate because of term limits and faces an opponent who criticizes him for refusing to help Trump or go along with a contentious 2021 “audit” that Republican leaders in the Senate commissioned.

Bowers faces an uphill battle in Mesa, especially after the state Republican Party censured him following his June testimony before the panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress and Trump endorsed his opponent, former state Sen. David Farnsworth.

“I’m well aware that I’m highly distrusted,” Bowers told The Associated Press. "My district is a very Trump district, and who knows how this is all going to work out.

“And if it doesn’t work out, great, I’d do it all again the same way,” Bowers said.

Trump pressured Bowers to help with a plan to replace electors committed to now-President Joe Biden during a phone call weeks after Trump lost the 2020 election. Bowers refused.

Bowers insisted on seeing Trump’s evidence of voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani later told him, “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”

Bowers is a conservative Republican, but Farnsworth said he's not conservative enough and has become less so since becoming speaker following the 2018 elections.

“Of course, the big issue, I think, for everybody is the fact that I strongly believe that there was fraud in the 2020 election,” Farnworth said in an interview last week. “And I feel like Rusty failed .... to take responsibility as speaker of the House and look into that election.”

The Farnsworth-Bowers battle is one of several brewing that involve current or former Arizona lawmakers.

Redistricting put two Trump-supporting state senators, Kelly Townsend and Wendy Rogers, into the same district. That race has featured bitter recriminations as Rogers has faced repeated ethics charges for her inflammatory rhetoric, support for white supremacists and conspiracy-theory laden tweets.

Townsend said she felt compelled to run against Rogers when she refused to refute white nationalism after speaking at a conference in Florida in February.

“If I don’t run against her and make that statement, win, lose or drawn then her actions become our own,” Townsend said Monday. “It sort of spoils the whole (Republican) party.”

Rogers has earned a national following, raising a whopping $3 million from donors across the country since taking office in early 2021. Townsend had raised about $15,000, much more typical for a state legislative race.

In the west Phoenix suburbs, former Rep. Anthony Kern, who attended Trump's Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol rally that led to the attack on Congress and unsuccessfully sued Democrats who asked the Department of Justice to investigate him, is seeking to return to the Legislature. He was defeated in his 2020 House primary and is now aiming for a Senate seat.

Also trying for a political comeback is former Rep. Steve Montenegro, whose 2018 run for Congress was upended by a sexting scandal. He's among four Republicans running in a west Phoenix House district for two open House seats.

Democratic Reps. Diego Espinoza and Richard Andrade are facing off after being drawn into the same district in the western Phoenix suburbs. And Sen. Lela Alston, considered the most experienced lawmaker in the Legislature, is facing two challengers in her central Phoenix district. One of them, political unknown Al Jones, has sought attention by buying billboards across the city.

3:41 p.m.: False claims about pens in Arizona primary prompts warning

The attorney for Arizona's most populous county sent a letter on Tuesday warning a local candidate to stop encouraging voters to steal the pens given to them at polling places on Election Day to mark their ballots.

Tuesday was the final day of voting in Arizona's primary, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the ballot-marking pens echoed the now infamous #SharpieGate controversy that erupted after the 2020 election.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell sent the letter to Gail Golec, a candidate for county supervisor who made various social media posts on Tuesday urging supporters not to use the pens provided by election workers at polling places and to take them when they leave.

“As you well know, theft of any sort is unlawful; moreover encouraging theft of the fast-drying ink pens specifically recommended for election day voting is a deliberate attempt to interfere with election administration and will have the harmful effect of delaying the vote tabulation of election day ballots, as the wet ink harms the vote center tabulation machines,” Mitchell wrote in the letter.

Golec, in a response posted on Twitter, said her intention was to “Protect Our Vote, not encourage you to steal pens” and reiterated false claims that the pens provided by poll workers allow election workers to change people's votes.

Maricopa County election officials have been urging voters to ignore these conspiracy theories, explaining that the felt-tip pens provided to voters are designed to limit problems such as smudging, which can happen when voters use ballpoint pens. On its website, the elections office says the ink from ballpoint pens doesn't dry as quickly. The wet ink on the ballots could smear the inside of the machine and prevent it from working properly.

On Tuesday, Maricopa County election officials said they were having to replace some machines because voters failed to use the pens provided to them.

9:10 a.m.: Breaking down the numbers

Hear Garrett Archer with hosts Lauren Gilger and Mark Brodie on The Show

garrett-archer-show-lg-mb-20220802.mp3

On Tuesday, Arizona voters will choose primary candidates for November’s general election. The polls are outfitted with equipment to combat election fraud and the state is in the national spotlight.

Will Trump-endorsed candidates prevail and will that be a bellwether for the country?

 Garrett Archer is a data analyst with ABC15. He joined The Show to help break down some election day numbers.

“Right now, probably about a million people have voted,” Archer said. “We are expecting a total turnout for this primary of anywhere between 1.4 million and 1.5 million.”

Archer said he expects Republicans a to have larger number of election-day voters. So far in Maricopa County, he said, “about 85% of people who have voted in the polls are Republican or are choosing Republican ballot.”

So when will we know the results? Archer said most races will be decided when the first numbers drop tonight. But since early ballots turned in on election day take longer to process, some races won’t have a clear winner.

 “If there's tight races, we might have to wait to see who the victor is,” Archer said.

One thing speeding up the count, he added, is that Maricopa County’s vote center model has cut down on the number of provisional ballots.

6:32 a.m.: Primaries feature deniers for state election posts

Republican primary voters in Arizona and Kansas on Tuesday are deciding whether to elevate loyalists to former President Donald Trump who support his false claims that he won the 2020 election and send them to the general election.

The GOP primary elections for secretary of state are the latest this year to feature candidates who doubt the security of their states' elections despite the lack of evidence of any problems widespread enough to change the results. Republican voters elsewhere have split on sending those candidates to the November ballot.

A secretary of state primary in Washington includes several Republican and unaffiliated candidates, including one who has made voter fraud claims without evidence. Washington state has a primary system in which the top two vote-getters make it to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

→  KJZZ’s Arizona Voter Guide

The Democratic candidates in all three states reject the premise of a stolen 2020 presidential election and warn that victories in November by any of those who promote conspiracies would endanger free and fair elections. In all three states, the secretary of state is the top election official.

In Arizona, a major battleground for president and the U.S. Senate, two of the four GOP candidates contend the election was stolen from Trump and plan to push major changes if they win the primary and the November general election.

They include state Rep. Mark Finchem, who attended Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, rally that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He tried this year to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to notify Congress that Arizona wanted to decertify Democrat Joe Biden’s election win.

The other Republican backing Trump's claims also is a member of the Arizona House. Rep. Shawnna Bolick introduced a bill last year that would allow a simple majority of the Legislature to overturn presidential election results. Republicans control the Legislature in Arizona.

Two other Republican candidates are on Arizona's ballot: state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who acknowledges Biden's victory but has worked for a decade to tighten election laws, and businessman Beau Lane, who is backed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.

Finchem is endorsed by Trump and said in a recent interview that worries about the effect of his potential victory on free and fair elections are unfounded. He said he will just enforce laws as written.

“I think it’s interesting that there are people, particularly Democrats out there, claiming, ’Oh, he’s going to ruin the system. He’s going to do this, he’s a threat to democracy,'” Finchem said. Still, he contends tens of thousands of fake ballots led to Biden's win, a claim for which there is no credible evidence.

Two Democrats, House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding and former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, are seeking their party's nomination.

5 a.m.: Where there are notable Trump-aligned candidates and election deniers

In the GOP gubernatorial primary Trump has backed Kari Lake, a former television host who has spread lies about the 2020 election, while other Republicans — including former Vice President Mike Pence and current Gov. Doug Ducey — have endorsed her main opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson.

On the Senate side in Arizona, Trump's pick is Blake Masters, former chief operating officer of the investment firm Thiel Capital. Masters' campaign has been boosted by millions of dollars from Peter Thiel, his longtime friend and boss. Masters is in the race alongside businessman Jim Lamon, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Michael McGuire, a retired National Guard major general. The GOP winner will then move to a highly contested race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

Both Lake and Masters appear to have healthy leads in recent polling.

Trump has also endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem, who has denied the results of the 2020 election and sought to overturn it. He's now running to oversee voting in Arizona. He's one of two election deniers on the Republican ballot for secretary of state

More stories from KJZZ

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.