In his first debate with Democratic secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes, Finchem held quick to his false claims that the 2020 election in Arizona was beset with widespread fraud, defended his presence on the U.S. Capitol in the course of the Jan. 6 riot, and declined to say whether or not he would search to make it tougher to vote in Arizona.
The controversy had barely begun earlier than Finchem started conjuring disproven claims of defective Dominion voting machines and allegedly doubtful ballots stuffed into drop bins. Requested to again up his arguments, Finchem pointed to so-called proof included within the Dinesh D’Souza conspiracy movie “2,000 Mules” that has turn out to be a sacred textual content on the MAGA proper—although few elected Republicans have determined to go wherever close to the movie’s far-fetched claims.
When Fontes argued that Finchem’s objective was to overturn an election, the Republican strenuously denied the suggestion.
“I’m not speaking about overturning an election,” he stated. “I’m speaking about declaring one county’s election irredeemably compromised.” After all, the competition between Trump and Joe Biden in Arizona was shut. To have made that declaration because the state’s most senior election official would have thrown the complete state’s electoral votes doubtful—and doubtlessly would have put the nationwide presidential election within the air.
At a number of factors within the debate, Fontes referenced Finchem’s presence on the Capitol in Washington in the course of the Jan. 6 riot. Beforehand, Finchem has downplayed his exercise on that day, saying he simply flew to Washington to current proof to GOP members of Congress. Footage of the gang exterior the Capitol that day, nonetheless, confirmed Finchem very near the Capitol constructing after it had been breached by rioters.
Requested straight if Arizona voters would approve of their prime election official being current at an try to derail a presidential election, Finchem merely stated, “to be at a spot when one thing is going on shouldn’t be unlawful.”
He additionally stated that he had been interviewed by each the Division of Justice and the Home choose committee investigating Jan. 6—as a witness.
The controversy moderator tried to pin down Finchem on his place relating to mail-in voting, a spotlight of GOP consternation in 2020 although it has been extensively utilized in many states, equivalent to Arizona, for years.
Finchem has beforehand expressed opposition to mail-in voting however was reluctant to take action on the talk stage Thursday night time. Requested repeatedly if he would search to curtail the observe, Finchem merely stated that it was his job to implement the legislature’s plans and that his personal views had been irrelevant.
“What I need doesn’t matter,” Finchem insisted, earlier than lastly admitting, “I don’t look after mail-in voting.”
Whereas races equivalent to secretary of state are usually below the radar contests, the elevation of Finchem—and like-minded candidates in different states—has alarmed many in each events who’re involved that they could use their energy not solely to roll again voting entry however refuse to simply accept the end result of the elections in 2024 and past.
However in few states is the distinction between the secretary of state hopefuls is as stark as it’s in Arizona.
Fontes, a former Maricopa County Recorder, eagerly linked Finchem to 2020 conspiracy theories and the violence of Jan. 6, calling that document “an unhinged and violent facet of Mark Finchem he’d moderately not focus on.”
Clearly, Finchem was sad with how the talk centered on his far-fetched claims and controversial document. Afterward, he tweeted, “NOT ONE QUESTION QUESTIONING ADRIAN FONTES FOR HIS QUESTIONABLE PERFORMANCE AS AN ELECTIONS OFFICER.”