Candidate of AZ Secretary of State shrugs his shoulders at the presence on January 6 during Bonkers debate

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Arizona PBS

In the space of 30 minutes on Thursday night’s television, far-right lawmaker Mark Finchem has clearly demonstrated why he is Donald Trump’s preferred choice to lead the Arizona election.

In his first debate with Democratic Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes, Finchem stuck to his false claims that the 2020 Arizona election involved widespread fraud, defended his presence in the US Capitol during the January 6 riots. and declined to say whether he would try to make voting more difficult in Arizona.

No sooner had the debate started than Finchem began to stir up disproven claims about faulty Dominion voting machines and supposedly dubious ballots stuffed into drop boxes. Asked to back up his arguments, Finchem pointed to alleged evidence in the Dinesh D’Souza conspiracy film “2,000 Mules” that has become sacred text on the MAGA right — though few elected Republicans have decided to go anywhere near the movie to come. far-fetched claims.

When Fontes argued that Finchem’s goal was to undo an election, the Republican vehemently denied the suggestion.

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“I’m not talking about undoing an election,” he said. “I’m talking about declaring the election of a province irreparably compromised.” Of course, the match between Trump and Joe Biden in Arizona was close. Making that statement as the state’s top election official would have cast doubt on electoral votes across the state — and potentially kick-started the national presidential election.

At several points in the debate, Fontes referred to Finchem’s presence in the Washington Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots. Previously, Finchem has downplayed his activities on that day, saying he just flew to Washington to present evidence to GOP members of Congress. However, footage of the crowd outside the Capitol that day showed Finchem very close to the Capitol after it was broken through by rioters.

AZ candidate of State Secretary Mark Finchem campaigned with Sandy Hook Truther

When asked directly whether voters in Arizona would be okay with their top election official being present at an attempt to derail a presidential election, Finchem simply said, “Being in a place where something is happening is not illegal.”

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He also said he had been interviewed by both the Justice Department and the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 – as a witness.

The moderator of the debate tried to capture Finchem’s stance on postal voting, a focus of GOP consternation in 2020, although it has been widely used in many states, such as Arizona, for years.

Finchem has previously opposed voting by post, but was reluctant to do so in the debate on Thursday evening. When asked repeatedly whether he would try to curtail the practice, Finchem simply said that his job was to carry out the legislator’s plans and that his own views didn’t matter.

“What I want doesn’t matter,” Finchem insisted, before finally admitting, “I don’t care about mail votes.”

While races like secretaries of state typically go under the radar, the upliftment of Finchem — and like-minded candidates in other states — has alarmed many in both parties who fear they could not only use their power to reverse but deny access to votes. accept the results of the elections in 2024 and beyond.

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But in few states the contrast between the hopeful Secretary of State is as great as in Arizona.

Fontes, a former Maricopa County Recorder, eagerly linked Finchem to conspiracy theories of 2020 and the January 6 violence, calling that record “an unhinged and violent aspect of Mark Finchem that he’d rather not discuss.”

Clearly Finchem was unhappy with the way the debate focused on his far-fetched claims and controversial track record. Subsequently, he tweeted“NO QUESTION TO ASK ADRIAN FONTES ABOUT HIS QUESTIONABLE PERFORMANCE AS AN ELECTION OFFICER.”

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