“Several election deniers backed by Trump prevail in hotly contested primaries”


Several election deniers backed by former president Donald Trump prevailed in closely-watched primaries held Tuesday, as a nationwide battle over the future of the GOP played out in state and federal races across five states.

In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, fell in defeat to John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who ran with the ex-president’s support and embraced his false claims of a stolen election. Meijer, who is in his first term, becomes the second GOP House member ousted in a primary after supporting the impeachment of Trump for inciting a riot with false claims of a stolen election. Meijer issued a statement conceding before the race was called.

In Arizona, state lawmaker Mark Finchem — part of a national coalition of far-right candidates who baselessly reject the 2020 election results and want to oversee the vote in 2024 — was projected to win the Republican nomination for GOP secretary of state. Blake Masters, a first-time candidate who spent most of his career in Silicon Valley as a protege of tech billionaire Peter Thiel and has said he thinks Trump won in 2020, was projected to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the state. Both were backed by Trump.

A third Arizona candidate supported by Trump, former TV news anchor Kari Lake, was in a tight race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination that had yet to be called by the Associated Press early Wednesday morning. In close competition was Karrin Taylor Robson, who has the support of Republicans who rebuffed Trump’s pressure to interfere with the 2020 election — including former vice president Mike Pence.

And in Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmittwon his state’s GOP nomination for U.S. Senate — a relief to Republicans who had feared his scandal-plagued rival Eric Greitens would imperil an otherwise safely red seat and become a broader political problem for the party. As attorney general, Schmitt backed a Texas-led lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results in four key states Trump lost. Trump issued an unusual endorsement on the eve of the primary, announcing support for “ERIC,” a first-name shared by two rival candidates.

Jeremy Stahl for Slate:

Finchem’s role in Jan. 6 and the subsequent sham partisan election audit in Maricopa County—which ultimately found additional votes for Biden in the state, while making false claims of fraud—fueled his meteoric rise within the MAGA movement. He was one of Trump’s earliest endorsements of the 2022 midterm cycle, with Trump announcing in September that he was backing Finchem for his “incredibly powerful stance on the massive Voter Fraud…” This led to Finchem becoming one of the top fundraising secretary of state candidates in the country, raising more than $1.2 million.

If he wins, Finchem of course says he wants to decertify the 2020 election. (He says he would have never joined Arizona’s governor in certifying that election to begin with had he been in the job in 2020.) But his role in future elections is scarier.

In Arizona, the secretary of state, along with the governor, is charged with certifying all elections. So, if elected, Finchem could simply refuse to certify any democratic victory in any state, local, or federal election, citing the sorts of unspecified and unproven claims of fraud he has raised to say that 2020 should not have been certified.

Along those lines, Finchem has sued to end the use of “unsecure black box electronic voting machines” to count the votes in Arizona, joining the Trump-back gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake.* An official audit after the 2020 election found those machines had conducted a near-perfect count (and even the manual recount conducted by the sham partisan audit in Maricopa County ended up verifying that machine count). But if Finchem says that any count conducted by voting machines is de facto fraudulent, he could try to refuse to certify an election on that basis alone.

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