Arizona Republicans Are Working Through Stages of Grief

It’s been nearly two weeks since Election Day, but Arizona Republicans remain convinced that the election was stolen from them because their far-right nominee for governor lost.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs narrowly defeated Kari Lake, a Donald Trump-endorsed former local news anchor, networks projected last week, concluding she had no chance of overtaking Hobbs in the ballots remaining to be counted. 

But Lake and her campaign have continued to challenge the election results claiming she’ll ultimately win the race, even as Hobbs has built a larger lead than President Joe Biden had when he won Arizona two years ago. 

They’re getting backup. In recent days, a conservative county in southeast Arizona voted to delay certification of its election, and an incoming GOP state representative pledged not to vote in the legislature until the election is done over again due to “clear signs of foul play,” despite the fact that there is no evidence at all of foul play. 

Meanwhile, the bombardment of threats toward Arizona officials and election workers has apparently not let up. A top Republican official in Maricopa who’s defended the county’s elections was reportedly moved to an undiscosed location and given protection by the Sheriff’s Office due to “security concerns.” 

Liz Harris, who was elected earlier this month to represent suburban Maricopa County in the Arizona House of Representatives, said in an Instagram post Thursday that she wouldn’t cast a vote in her new position until a new election is held. 

“There are clear signs of foul play from machine malfunctions, chain of custody issues and just blatant mathematical impossibilities,” Harris said in the statement. “How can a Republican State Treasurer receive more votes than a Republican gubernatorial or Senate candidate?”

Kimberly Yee, the incumbent state Treasurer, won re-election by double-digits. Far-right election denier candidates endorsed by Trump, however, did much poorly—Lake, Senate nominee Blake Masters, and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem all lost, while Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh is behind Democrat Kris Mayes by several hundred votes as the race appears set for a recount. (Of the above, only Masters has conceded.) 

“I call on all state legislators to join me in demanding a new election,” Harris wrote. “I will now be withholding my vote on any bills in this session without this new election in protest to what is clearly a potential fraudulent election.” 

Finchem, a state representative who unsuccessfully ran for Secretary of State on a platform of election denial, has also called for a new election.

Finchem lost to Democratic nominee Adrian Fontes by more than 100,000 votes, but has continued to claim without evidence that the election was fraudulent. He was one of several election-denying GOP nominees to run elections in swing states who lost earlier this month. 

Republicans are set to control the Arizona state House by just a two-vote margin next year.

Lake’s campaign has centered its frustration around Maricopa County, due to problems with printers that were spread evenly between Democratic and Republican areas. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chair Bill Gates is a Republican who received threats after the 2020 election, when he defended the county’s elections from supporters of former President Donald Trump raging about Joe Biden’s win in Arizona. 

Gates has called Lake’s conspiracy theories “offensive” to election workers in the days after the election, and in the days since the election has frequently featured in the county’s efforts to combat disinformation about its elections. On Sunday, for example, Gates was in a video explaining the canvassing and certification process in Maricopa County.

But Gates was moved to an undisclosed location this weekend “for his safety,” and the official has a security detail from the county sheriff’s office, Fox 10 in Phoenix reported this weekend. It’s unclear what the nature of the threats were. 

On Saturday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a four-page letter to Maricopa County officials demanding answers on the printer issues before the county certifies its election results. The deadline for certification is Nov. 28. 

And in Cochise County, which went for Lake by nearly 20 points, Republican officials voted Friday to delay certification of the results Friday after three conspiracy theorists baselessly alleged that vote counting machines weren’t trustworthy because the lab used to test them wasn’t certified, according to the AP

The state director of election services, Kori Lorick, testified before the board that the machines were “properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements” and claims about the lab not having the proper accreditations were “false.” 

Hobbs, meanwhile, is building out her transition team as she prepares to succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who called and congratulated her last week. Ducey was also a frequent target of Trump after he certified the 2020 results despite the former president’s lies that the election was fraudulent.  

In an election where the GOP won the House but fell far short of the predicted “red tsunami,” Arizona was one of three states to vote to replace a Republican governor with a Democratic won. Hobbs will be Arizona’s first Democratic governor since 2009. 

“We are prepared to make the transition to the 24th governor as smooth and as seamless as possible,” a Ducey spokesperson told ABC 15. “It is a responsibility the governor takes very seriously.”

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