Arizona Secretary of State Nominee Mark Finchem—A Proud Trumpist “ Election Denier” August 7, 2022
SOS-- Secretary of State. No, SOS does not mean Antony Blinken, President Biden’s Cabinet appointee who handles our international relations. SOS refers to the state officials in charge of overseeing state and national elections. SOS’s are supposed to send out ballots to voters in state and national elections and count them. SOS’s keep track of primary and general election dates and notify the public when such races and filing deadlines related to them are to occur. SOS’s are supposed to run this process smoothly and in a non-partisan manner. In California, Shirley Weber, the current SOS, does just that, as do many of her counterparts in the rest of the U.S. However, we saw as early as 2000, in the highly contested Florida Bush v. Gore election contest, that the SOS’s power could be used as one “big time” partisan tool. FL GOP SOS Katherine Harris did everything in her power to blatantly rule in favor of W Bush’s “Team Red.” Harris delayed many of Gore’s election challenges, repeatedly ruled against them, and quickly tried to certify W’s razor-thin vote total. She pushed arguments that the U.S. Supreme Court used to ultimately declare W the national victor. After Democrat Biden won the 2020 election, many GOPers revived the attempt “on steroids” to use the SOS offices in as many states as possible to challenge any future Democratic state and national victories. One of their chief weapons was to win Republican primaries for SOS offices with “election deniers,” especially in key swing states. “Election deniers,” are people, like their “hero” Demagogue Donald, who keep repeating the utterly false and totally disproved charge that the 2020 election was “rigged” and that Biden illegitimately sits in the Oval Office. Should these “election deniers” go on to win the 11/2022 general elections, they will try to curtail voting rights, hinder Democratic voter turnout, and throw out votes they consider “illegitimate,” mainly Democrats and their minority voting base. Fair elections, from the presidential level on down, will be an oxymoron, replaced by contests heavily favoring the GOP. In the 2022 primaries, Jim Marchant and Kristina Karamo from Nevada and Michigan respectively, have won nominations as part of Trump’s so-called “America First” slate of “election-denying” candidates. Add a third member to this extremist anti-democracy bunch. On August 2, 2022, Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem handily defeated his chief rival Beau Lane by 16 points, 41%-25% (usatoday.com/elections/results). Meet proud “election denier” Finchem. Finchem may be the most radical of this “election denying” bunch (See huffpost.com, Waldron
Detroit, MI native Mark Finchem grew up in Kalamazoo (Fincham, azlegl.gov/house, 1/30/21). He worked as a firefighter and police officer in Kalamazoo, MI and after retiring in 1999, became a rancher in Delton, MI. He moved to Tucson, AZ where he worked for the business and financial software company Intuit before becoming a real estate broker (azleg.gov, 1/30/21). Since January 5, 2015, he has served as a member of the AZ House of Representatives representing District 11 (HR 11). The AZ HR 11th covers parts of Pima and Pinal Counties. Registered GOPers outnumber registered Democrats in the AZ HR 11th by 9.8 points, 38.7% v. 28.9% (11th legislative district, wiki).
From the get-go, Finchem has been known as a far-right politician. He is a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that played a major role in the 1/06/21 attempted Capitol coup (See huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22). In 2016, Finchem introduced legislation that would prohibit AZ from implementing presidential executive orders, directives issued by federal agencies, and U.S. Supreme Court rulings (phoenixnewtimes.com, Flaherty, 3/22/19). Since 2016, Finchem was AZ Coordinator of the Coalition of Western States (COWS), a group that supported militant extremist Cliven Bundy in his confrontation with law enforcement over land ownership. The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Mark Pitcavage described COWS as motivated by “anti-government extremism and anti-public lands extremism.” Pitcavage stated that Finchem’s membership in this outfit indicated he shared extremist views (Kelety, phoenixnew times.com, 10/01/20). Finchem sponsored an unsuccessful 2019 bill that would transfer management of federal lands in AZ to the state’s government (Hsieh & Flaherty, 1/03/19, phoenixnewtimes.com).
Finchem is a strong believer in conspiracy theories and remains far from shy in promoting them. In 2013, Finchem argued that Pres. Obama was seeking to establish a “totalitarian dictatorship.” He called the fatal Charlottesville, VA 2017 “Unite the Right rally,” composed of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK types, a “deep state psyop” carried out by Democrats (phoenixnewtimes.com, 3/22/19).
After the 2020 presidential election in which Democrat Biden fairly and soundly defeated Demagogue Donald, GOPer Finchem supported the “Stop the Steal” movement. That movement falsely claimed that Donald won the election nationally as well as in “swing state” AZ (Waltz, 1/08/21, abc15.com /news). Shortly after the election, Finchem met with Trump lawyers and advisers, including zealot Rudy Giuliani to help them try to invalidate the 2020 presidential election results (huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22). In 2021, Finchem shared on social media a “report.” This “report” falsely claimed to have uncovered tens of thousands of missing or lost votes and tens of thousands of votes fraudulently cast in Maricopa County, AZ, home to heavily populated Phoenix. County officials and political scientists rejected this small non-random voter sample. Finchem next called for the AZ legislature to appoint presidential electors of its own choosing, who would, in effect, overturn the AZ presidential election results. GOPers control the state legislature (See Swenson, apnews.com, 9/10/21, Oxford, 2/06/21, azcentral.com, Cohen & Cook 2022). Finchem generally believes that the legislature should be able to overturn the voters’ will (cnn.com, Bradner, 8/03/22). Biden carried AZ by 10,000 votes, and, therefore, its eleven electoral votes (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). Further investigation uncovered the fact that a business affiliated with Finchem, Mrk Finchem PLCC, received $6, 037 from Trump’s reelection campaign. Finchem claimed the payment was for security costs related to his meeting with Rudy Giuliani (Oxford, 2/06/21, azcentral.com). The House’s Jan. 6 committee that is investigating Trump’s attempted coup served a subpoena on Finchem for his role in attempting to substitute fake electors and his other efforts to overturn Biden’s election win (huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22).
Finchem traveled to D.C. to take part in the 1/06/21 Donald-led/incited protest. That protest was followed by an attack on the U.S. Capitol which resulted in several deaths and many injuries. Finchem stated that there was “substantial evidence that this election was a fraud.” He tweeted photos of protestors massed on the Capitol steps. Finchem falsely claimed that “leftists” and Democrats had instigated the 1/06 violence (Waltz, 1/08/21, abc15.com, Oxford, 1/07/21, azcentral.com). An FBI briefing stated that leftist “antifa” groups were not involved in the 1/06 Capitol attack. Finchem said that he “did not trust a word that comes out of the FBI’s mouth (Siders, politico.com, 1/13/21).” Finchem backed the conspiratorial CyberNinjas “audit” of election results in Maricopa, County. That partisan audit was explicitly designed to find widespread fraud, but failed to do so (huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22).
Finchem compared a hotel chain’s decision not to host a speech by right-wing FL GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Holocaust and was rightly condemned for this off-the-wall comment. Finchem touted his endorsement by Andrew Torba. Torba is the founder of the social network Gab. Torba, deemed by many to be anti-Semitic, has stated that Jews were not welcomed on his site. Gab is used by many white supremacists banned by other social network platforms. The shooter who killed 11 Jews in Pittsburgh’s 10/2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre used Gab to spread his hate (jta.org, Cramer & Lapin, 8/03/22).
In 3/2021, Finchem announced he would run in 2022 for the SOS office in AZ. Demagogue Donald endorsed Finchem in 9/2021. Finchem is also a QAnon conspiracy theorist (Cillizza, cnn.com, 9/14/21). Should he lose, Finchem has already threatened to challenge the legitimacy of the 11/2022 general election. He has stated, “There ain’t gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy. I’m going to demand a 100% hand count (of ballots) if there’s the slightest hint of any impropriety.” Lots of right- wingers want all ballots to be hand counted because many of them believe in the conspiracy theories that voting machines rigged the votes in Bidens’s favor. Should he win, Finchem has pledged to target voting rights in a supercharged manner. Translation: work hard to suppress Democratic voters, especially minorities (huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22).
Without any evidence, Finchem has argued that early voting and mail voting are the main sources of fraud. He has questioned the constitutionality of early voting on shaky grounds. He has indicated that targeting early voting will be one of his major priorities, despite the fact that 90% of Arizonans cast ballots before Election Day.
In addition to being crucial in carrying out and counting elections fairly, whoever wins the office of AZ’s Sec. of State is the state’s second highest elected official. Unlike many other states, the Grand Canyon State does not have a lieutenant governor who would normally be first in line to succeed the Governor (cnn.com, 8/03/22, Bradner). Currently, Dem. Katie Hobbs is AZ’s SOS, but she recently won the Democratic primary to run for Governor in 2022.
Democrat Adrian Fontes won “Team Blue’s” nomination to face “election denier” Finchem. Fontes carried 9 out of 15 counties including Maricopa. Fontes served as Maricopa’s County recorder from 2017-2021. Fontes oversaw the 2020 election that Biden won in AZ. That result was confirmed by numerous audits, including a ballot review ordered by state Senate GOPers. In fact, the state Senate GOP audit found more votes for Biden than even the official returns (Pitzi, azcentral.com, 8/04/22). Unlike “election denier” GOPer Finchem, Fontes campaigned in his primary on defending AZ’s election process and protecting democracy. He aptly called Finchem “a Trump sycophant and Jan. 6 insurrectionist (azcentral.com, 8/04/22, Pitzi).” Finchem is no outlier. The key AZ GOP primary winners from gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, U.S. Senate nominee Blake Masters, and Attorney General nominee Abraham Hamadeh are also Trump-endorsed “election deniers (cnn.com, Bradner, 8/03 & 8/04/22).”
Many Democrats. are laughing at Finchem and his fellow election deniers. However, their primary wins are no laughing matter. Finchem is now one step closer to a position that would potentially allow him to contest 2024 presidential and down-ballot results, if they don’t break in favor of “Team Red.” Democratic SOS nominee Fontes correctly stated, “He’s (Finchem) communicated the fact he will not certify an election that Donald Trump does not win. He (Finchem) has no integrity. He has no honor. He has no intention of executing the office, under the oath that he will falsely swear to. So there ’s really no question in my mind. He (Finchem) just won’t do the job (huffpost.com, Waldron, 8/03/22).” In 11/2022, AZ Democrats and independents must come out in droves plus and trounce “election denier”/Trumpist Mark Finchem and all his allies. Democracy depends upon it.