Mark Finchem describes himself as a simple ex-cop and rancher. While he is an ex-cop, Finchem currently ranches in Arizona outside of Tucson. However, the hat he wears now is very different.
These days, the four-term state legislator is one of the state’s most preeminent “Stop the Steal” conspiracists. He’s also, as of Tuesday of this week, the GOP’s candidate to be the next secretary of state. He beat out three other competitors in the primary, after having received Trump’s “Complete and Total Endorsement.”If he wins the November general election as secretary of State, he would have virtually unlimited power over the integrity of the next elections in Arizona, including those that will determine the fate of the 2024 presidential vote.
Finchem, originally from Detroit, moved to Arizona years ago and made himself a desert conservative. Pick an issue, and he’s on the far right side of it. He opposes gun control legislation but supports curtailing violent video games instead.In 2019, he introduced legislation designed to curb “politicking” in the classroomThis was essentially an anti-union effort in a country where teachers had just completed a successful campaign for higher salaries. He has argued that paper money is now “worthless,” that gold and silver should be made legal currency, and that people hording gold coins shouldn’t be taxed on the profits they make on the precious metal. In a bizarre political stunt, he had a few years ago cosponsored legislationThis would have required doctors that tried to revive aborted fetuses. He has advocated for gun owners to be allowed to carry concealed weapons into schools and public buildings, for builders to be permitted to erect border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and for religious organizations to be exempt from property taxes.
Finchem, who was present at Washington’s January 6 insurrectionary gathering, has been telling anyone who will ear that the 2020 Arizona presidential election was rigged. He also claimed that the vote machines were corrupted. He also said that dead people and undocumented migrants voted in Phoenix, Tucson, as well as other Democratic bastions. The state should be able to nullify the votes of these counties and simply impose their presidential electors.
The GOP’s newly minted nominee to be Arizona’s next secretary of state has pushed legislation that would allow state legislators to simply ignore the voters in counties they deem to be problematic, and to nominate their own electors to the presidential Electoral College instead. He wants to ban early voting and strictly curtail mail-in voting, which is used by 90 percent of the state’s voters. He wants to ban electronic vote-counting machines. He wants to implement laws that would effectively thwart federal efforts to monitor how Arizona conducts elections, and counts votes. He is so extreme about voting rights and access to vote that The Washington PostThis week, an editorial stated that he is a threat to U.S. democracy’s future.
Earlier this year, in a sign of the seriousness with which investigators took Finchem’s rhetoric and actions, the House Committee investigating January 6 ordered him to surrender his phone records and to appear before the committee to testify.
Finchem wasn’t deterred. A long-time coordinator for the extremist political network known as the Coalition of Western States, member of the Oath Keepersmilitia, and a dyed–in-the–wool conspiracy theoristhe argues, for example, that the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017 was a false flag operation carried out by the “Deep State” and the liberal media), he simply ramped up his rhetoric and grew ever more audacious in his claims.
Finchem boldly told his supporters that if he lost the GOP primary, he wouldn’t concede the result.He met Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago and spent 20 minutes with him. He then became part of the America First Secretary of State CoalitionTrump and his backers have attempted to create a new country called ‘America First’. It is a project that is currently underway. pushed at the grassroots level by Steve BannonTo capture secretary-of-state offices and other election oversight positions in key swing state states across the country. MAGA-backers had obtained election deniers to be nominated by the GOP as secretaries of state in Pennsylvania and Nevada, Michigan, Alabama and New Mexico. Now, Arizona has joined this dishonorable group. It’s happening more often. Finchem has taken to the airwaves these past few months to promote an array of QAnon conspiracy theories.
Like Finchem, the conspiracists running for secretary-of-state positions are only one election away winning power. Because of Arizona’s pivotal role in the 2020 election, and its likely role in 2024, of all of these conspiracists, Finchem is the most concerning. If he succeeds in his quest, it would be one massive step backward both for Arizona, and, because of Arizona’s role as a swing state, for U.S. democracy. Trump and his anti-democratic, ferociously violent movement would also get a huge boost.
Arizonans elected a Democratic secretary-general of state in 2020. Katie Hobbs, who is now the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate for the November election — and voted for Joe Biden for president. Two Democratic senators are in the state. The state legislature, which had large GOP majority for decades, is now only marginally Republican and could easily be a Democratic pick up in November. Polling shows that Hobbs is likely to win the governor’s racesucceeding GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, especially now the GOP looks like it has chosen as its candidate the far right Trumpian Kari Lake. And Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly has the potential to win reelection against Trump-backed venture capitalists Blake Masters.
These trends suggest that it will be difficult for Finchem to win the race to become secretary-of-state. As November nears, many Americans who care about the integrity of the U.S. election are watching the race with concern. If Finchem wins, it will be a devastating blow to democracy in the United States and a huge boost to the fascistic efforts of Trump, Bannon. et al. To demolish any guard rails standing in your way of a successful endeavor coup d’etat.