Republican candidates across Arizona are making their final arguments before midterm elections. Many of these candidates have been endorsed by former President Trump, and are closing out this election cycle by spreading his unfounded claims of election fraud, and looking to a future of drastic changes for elections, and everyone living in Arizona.
Currently, Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the state Senate and a three-seat majority in the Arizona House, and the state has fewer than 10 competitive districts that could either flip the legislatures or cement the Republican majority. If Republicans secure these key districts this election cycle, they could successfully pass measures that weaken Arizona’s vote by mail system or further strengthen restrictions on reproductive rights.
Many Republican candidates across the state have received Trump’s endorsement and in some way parrot or support his claims of widespread election fraud about the 2020 election. After several reviews, audits, and an investigation from Trump’s own Department of Justice (DOJ), there has been no evidence of election fraud influencing the results of the 2020 election.
Election denialism has become more and more common in the GOP. Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, said that she would not have certified the 2020 election in Arizona (where Joe Biden won by a narrow margin of around 12,000 votes) if she had been governor, claimed there was election fraud in her own Republican primary with no evidence, and has refused to directly answer whether she will accept the results of the midterm and concede if she loses. In HD13, for example, Republican Liz Harris even formed and led a canvass of election deniers in 2020.
As for the secretary of state position, state Rep. Mark Finchem is on the Republican ballot. Earlier this year, Finchem, as a state legislator, introduced a resolution that would decertify the 2020 election. If he wins his race, Finchem would have a lot more freedom to change election procedures and challenge future results since the state’s secretary of state oversees Arizona’s elections.
Finchem was also present at the US Capitol during January 6th, 2021, and has spoken about his association with the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government militia with ties to white nationalism and the insurrection. Finchem denies that he is an official member of the organization but confirmed he has been to at least one Oath Keeper meeting and says he is “by definition, one who took an oath, and I intend to keep that oath,” according to an interview with ABC15.
Another important issue at stake in 2022 is the right to an abortion. Currently, Arizona bans abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy with the exception of medical emergencies, and Republican candidates want to make it even harder to access reproductive care in the state. Lake has expressed her willingness to sign off on stricter abortion bans should the Arizona legislature pass such legislation. State Rep. Finchem was one of the Republican legislators who voted in favor of the current 15 week ban earlier this year. Other candidates for the State Legislature, like Nancy Barto in LD 4 or Justin Wilmeth in LD 2, have been staunchly opposed to abortion rights, and will continue to vote to restrict reproductive care access if re-elected. In LD9, Republicans Kathy Pearce and Mary Ann Mendoza have also long been opposed to abortion rights.
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republican lawmakers have tried to target and undermine reproductive rights across the country at an alarming rate, galvanizing their voter base and turning up the heat. Roe’s precedent cited the Fourteenth Amendment, which affords citizens the right to privacy from government interference, particularly in the doctor’s office. This protection also affects access to contraception, gender affirming care, equitable health care, and other important decisions between a person and their doctor. Republicans have in the past tried limiting access to birth control, condoms, and transgender medicine before Roe’s overturning, and now without the constitutional guarantee of abortion access, they could work to further these bans.
Should Republicans succeed in passing an abortion ban at the federal level or enacting tighter restrictions in the state, people in Arizona will have fewer health care options, especially those who rely on traveling to surrounding states with fewer restrictions to get the reproductive care they need. Some lawmakers are considering holding people who seek abortion procedures criminally culpable of murder or suing adjacent states who provide out-of-state care. A Texas woman, for instance, was recently arrested after she had a miscarriage. For Arizona, such legislation could be one voting session away, if Republicans maintain their majority.
Liz Cheney, Republican vice-chair of the January 6th Committee, recently visited Arizona and warned voters about candidates like Lake and Finchem who espouse the election fraud conspiracy. “We cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections. Elections are the foundation of our republic and peaceful transfers of power are the foundation of our republic.”
These Republican candidates want to dramatically change the voting process and keep infringing on Arizonans’ rights. It is crucial for voters to make their voices heard in November.