Republican primary voters in Arizona and Kansas are deciding Tuesday whether to elevate former US President Donald Trump loyalists who back his false claims he won the 2020 election and send them to the general election.
The GOP primary for secretary of state is the last this year to feature candidates who doubt the safety of their states’ elections despite a lack of evidence of problems widespread enough to change the results. . Republican voters elsewhere have been divided on sending those candidates to the November ballot.
A primary for secretary of state in Washington state includes several Republican candidates and unaffiliated candidates, including one who has made claims of voter fraud without evidence. The state of Washington has a primary system in which the top two vote winners make it to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Democratic candidates in all three states reject the premise of a stolen 2020 presidential election and warn that November victories by any of the conspiracy theorists would jeopardize a free and fair election. In all three states, the secretary of state is the chief election official.
In Arizona, a major battleground for the US presidency and Senate, two of the four Republican candidates say Trump stole the election from them and plan to push through major changes if they win the primary and general election in November.
They include state Rep. Mark Finchem, who attended Trump’s January 6, 2021, rally that led to the attack on the US Capitol. This year he tried to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to notify Congress that Arizona wanted to decertify. of the electoral victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
The other Republican backing Trump’s claims is also a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. Rep. Shawnna Bolick introduced a bill last year that would allow a simple majority of the Legislature to override presidential election results. Republicans control the Legislature in Arizona.
Two other Republican candidates are on the Arizona ballot: state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who acknowledges Biden’s victory but has worked for a decade to toughen election laws, and businessman Beau Lane, backed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Finchem is backed by Trump and said in a recent interview that concerns about the effect of his possible victory on free and fair elections are unfounded. He said that he will simply enforce the laws as they are written.
“I think it’s interesting that there are people, particularly Democrats, who say, ‘Oh, he’s going to screw up the system. He’s going to do this, he’s a threat to democracy,” Finchem said. Still, he maintains that tens of thousands of fake ballots led to Biden’s victory, a claim for which there is no credible evidence.
Two Democrats, House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding and former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, are seeking their party’s nomination.
In Kansas, voters will choose between a Republican challenger who questions the 2020 presidential results and the incumbent Republican who believes the election was safe in his state.
Secretary of State Scott Schwab has defended the use of ballot boxes, which Trump and other Republicans say are prone to misuse, even though both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state across the country reported no significant problems with them. . He has dismissed unsubstantiated theories about fraud, at least in the Kansas election.
Schwab is up against Mike Brown, a former county commissioner in suburban Kansas City who has made questions about the state’s election security the center of his campaign. He has promised to ban drop boxes and said he will use the secretary of state’s office to pursue voter fraud cases, rather than adopt Schwab’s approach of working through prosecutors.
Kansas Democrat Jenna Repass is unopposed in her party’s primary.
Washington State’s two main primaries feature incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. He was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last November and hopes to hold onto his seat for the remaining two years of former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s four-year term.
Hobbs is up against several Republican and unaffiliated hopefuls, including Tamborine Borrelli, an “America First” candidate who was fined by the state Supreme Court earlier this summer for making unsubstantiated claims alleging widespread voter fraud.
Hobbs and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who is running nonpartisan and said she is the most experienced in running elections, have raised the most money. Republicans in the race include former state senator Mark Miloscia and current senator Keith Waggoner.
Under Washington’s primary system, the top two candidates for votes advance to the November general election, regardless of party. The results will likely take days to be counted because this is a mail-in election.
Associated Press writers John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.