“That’s not an exaggeration,” he added. “That is a fact.”
Because victory for the GOP ticket, the former president proclaimed to a crowd of more than 1,000 in a high school gymnasium in southern Phoenix, would mean “election deniers serving as your governor, as your senator, as your secretary of state, as your attorney general.”
Republican contenders for those posts have been more fervent than many GOP candidates elsewhere in embracing former president Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. They have promised to transform how elections are conducted in this crucial swing state — promises they would be able to implement if voters put them in charge of the state’s election system.
A Washington Post analysis of candidates’ statements and actions shows a majority of the Republican nominees on the ballot this fall for federal or state offices — 291 overall — have denied or questioned the results of the 2020 election. In Arizona, all but one of the 13 GOP nominees have done so.
Kari Lake, in the race for governor, has called anyone who believes Joe Biden won by 81 million votes a “conspiracy theorist.” Blake Masters, who’s running for Senate, announced unequivocally in an ad: “I think Trump won in 2020.”
Lake, when pressed in a recent ABC interview about her claims of voter fraud, pointed to a range of unsubstantiated examples of improper handling of ballots, but did allow: “I will accept the results of this election if we have a fair, honest and transparent election. Absolutely. 100 percent.”
Mark Finchem, who has identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers militia group and is the party’s choice for secretary of state, has sought to require a hand count of all ballots and give the Republican-led legislature the authority to reject election results. Abraham Hamadeh, the nominee for attorney general, has promised a “day of reckoning” for “those who worked to rob President Trump in the rigged 2020 election,” pairing his warning with an image of handcuffs.
Polling suggests all are competitive in Tuesday’s races.
Obama seemed to take personally what he cast as the GOP’s unilateral rejection of the rules of the democratic game.
“When Donald Trump won, I stayed up till 3 in the morning so I could offer a congratulatory call to somebody who opposed everything I stood for, but I believed in the peaceful transfer of power,” Obama said. “I sat at his inauguration. We welcomed him into the White House. Because that’s what America’s supposed to be about. Did we forget that? Did that only apply to one side?”
The former president asked in disbelief: “What has happened?”
His comments echoed those delivered earlier in the day by Biden, once his No. 2 in the White House. Speaking 2,000 miles away at Washington’s Union Station, the president said candidates who refuse to accept the outcome of Tuesday’s contests put the country on a “path to chaos.”
Chaos was also the charge leveled against Republicans by the Democrats who appeared alongside Obama in Phoenix.
Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, said voters in Arizona had a “choice between sanity and chaos.” Kris Mayes, who is running for attorney general, said plainly: “Our opponents do not believe in democracy.”