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Former President Barack Obama was blunt about the stakes in Arizona when he campaigned for Democrats on the midterm ballot this past week.
If Republicans win key offices in the state, said Obama, “democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona. That’s not an exaggeration. That is a fact.”
He’s not wrong.
According to The Washington Post, 12 of the 13 Republican nominees for federal and state office in Arizona this year have questioned the results of the 2020 election.
That very much includes Kari Lake, the party’s nominee for governor. Lake has become a favorite of the Trumpist wing of the party thanks to her smooth camera presence (she was a local TV anchor for years). She is even touted as the female version of the former president (although I would argue Lake is more strategic and more on message than Trump has ever been).
The biggest thing she shares in common with Trump is that election denialism sits at the core of her messaging. She has repeatedly called the 2020 election “stolen” and said that had she been governor, she would not have certified the result in the state.
Lake also has not committed to accepting the results of her race. “I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash recently.
Lake is far from alone. Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters has pushed several conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Mark Finchem, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, has suggested there are votes in some counties that should have been set aside because of supposed irregularities.(There has never been any evidence put forward of said irregularities.)
Arizona is then, as Obama said, something of a pure litmus test: Is election denialism something that voters are, at minimum, willing to accept in their candidates? Or is it something that appeals these candidates to voters?
And if the likes of Lake and Finchem are in control of the election machinery come 2024, is there any hope of a fair and transparent result in one of the likely swing states of the next election?
The Point: Tuesday is a defining moment in the history of Arizona. It’s a moment where democracy is very much on the line.