Arizona Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem declines to participate Jan. 6 during the Bonkers debate

In a span of 30 minutes of television Thursday night, far-right Rep. Mark Finchem made it clear why he is Donald Trump’s preferred choice for the Arizona election.

In his first debate with Democratic foreign secretary nominee Adrian Fontes, Finchem stuck to his false claims that the 2020 Arizona election was riddled with widespread fraud, defended and denied his presence in the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots to say that if he was trying to make it harder to vote in Arizona.

The debate had barely begun when Finchem began conjuring up disproved claims about flawed Dominion voting machines and supposedly dubious ballots being stuffed into mailboxes. When asked to back up his arguments, Finchem pointed to so-called evidence contained in Dinesh D’Souza’s conspiracy film 2,000 Mules, which has become sacred text on the MAGA right — though few elected Republicans decided have to go anywhere near the film are far-fetched claims.

When Fontes argued that Finchem’s goal was to overturn an election, the Republican vehemently rejected the suggestion.

“I’m not talking about overturning an election,” he said. “I’m talking about declaring a district’s election irrevocably compromised.” Of course, competition between Trump and Joe Biden in Arizona was close. To have made that statement as the state’s top election official would have put the entire state’s electoral votes in doubt — and potentially blown up the national presidential election.

At several points in the debate, Fontes referred to Finchem’s presence at the Capitol in Washington during the January 6 riots. Finchem had previously downplayed his activities that day, saying he had just flown to Washington to present evidence to GOP members of Congress. However, footage of the crowd outside the Capitol that day showed Finchem very close to the Capitol after it was breached by rioters.

When asked directly whether Arizona voters would condone the presence of their chief election official in an attempt to derail a presidential election, Finchem simply said, “Being in a place where something is happening is not illegal.”

He also said he was questioned by both the Justice Department and the House Special Committee on the January 6 investigation — as a witness.

The debate moderator sought to pin Finchem on his position on absentee voting, which has been the focus of GOP concerns in 2020, despite having been rife in many states like Arizona for years.

Finchem has previously opposed voting by mail but was reluctant to do so on Thursday night’s debate stage. When asked repeatedly if he would try to restrict the practice, Finchem simply said that it was his job to implement the lawmakers’ plans and that his own views were irrelevant.

“What I want doesn’t matter,” emphasized Finchem, before finally admitting: “I don’t care about postal voting.”

While races like that of the Secretary of State are usually under the radar of competitions, the upsurge of Finchem – and like-minded candidates in other states – has alarmed many in both parties who are worried they might use their power beyond just taking back electoral access however, refuse to accept the outcome of the elections in 2024 and beyond.

But in few states is the contrast between the Secretary of State hopefuls as stark as in Arizona.

Fontes, a former Maricopa County Recorder, avidly linked Finchem to the conspiracy theories of 2020 and the Jan. 6 violence, calling that recording “an unhinged and violent aspect of Mark Finchem that he would rather not talk about.”

Finchem was evidently unhappy with the way the debate focused on his far-fetched claims and controversial record. Afterward, he tweeted“NOT A QUESTION QUESTIONING ADRIAN FONTES ABOUT HIS QUESTIONABLE PERFORMANCE AS AN ELECTIONS OFFICER.” Arizona Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem declines to participate Jan. 6 during the Bonkers debate


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