PHOENIX – (AP) – Republican primary voters in Arizona and Kansas will decide on Tuesday whether to raise loyalists to former President Donald Trump who support his false claims that he won the 2020 election and send them to the general election.
The GOP secretary of state primaries are the latest this year in which candidates have questioned the security of their states’ elections, although there is no evidence of problems widespread enough to change the results. Republican voters elsewhere have split when they sent these candidates to the November elections.
A Washington state secretary of state includes several Republican and non-partisan candidates, including one who has alleged voter fraud without evidence. Washington State has a primary system in which the top two voters make it to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
Democratic candidates in all three states reject the premise of a stolen 2020 presidential election and warn that victories in November by those who promote conspiracies would jeopardize free and fair elections. In all three states, the secretary of state is the chief election officer.
In Arizona, a key battleground for the president and US Senate, two of the four GOP candidates claim the election was stolen by Trump and plan to push for major changes if they win the primary and general election in November.
They include State Assemblyman Mark Finchem, who attended Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021 rally that led to the attack on the US Capitol. He tried this year to get the Republican-controlled legislature to inform Congress that Arizona wanted to invalidate Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
The other Republican backing Trump’s claims is also a member of the Arizona House. Rep. Shawnna Bolick introduced legislation last year that would allow a simple majority in the legislature to overturn the results of the presidential election. Republicans control the Arizona Legislature.
Two other Republican candidates are on the Arizona ballot: Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who recognizes Biden’s victory but has been working to tighten electoral laws for a decade, and businessman Beau Lane, who is backed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.
Trump-backed Finchem said in a recent interview that concerns about the impact his eventual victory would have on free and fair elections were unfounded. He said he will only enforce laws as written.
“I find it interesting that there are people, especially Democrats, out there who are like, ‘Oh, he’s going to ruin the system. He’s going to do that, he’s a threat to democracy’,” Finchem said. Still, he claims tens of thousands of fake ballots led to Biden’s victory, a claim for which there is no credible evidence.
Two Democrats, House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, and former Maricopa County Secretary Adrian Fontes are seeking their party’s nomination.
In Kansas, voters are choosing between a GOP challenger who is challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election and the incumbent Republican who believes his state’s election was safe.
Secretary of State Scott Schwab has defended the use of ballot boxes, which Trump and other Republicans say are prone to abuse, though both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state across the country have reported no significant problems with it. He has dismissed baseless theories of fraud, at least in the Kansas election.
Schwab faces Mike Brown, a former county commissioner in the Kansas City suburbs who has made doubts about the security of the state’s elections the focus of his campaign. He has promised to ban ballot boxes and said he will use the secretary of state’s office to prosecute cases of voter fraud rather than Schwab’s approach of working through prosecutors.
Kansas Democrat Jenna Repass is unchallenged in her party’s primary.
Incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs is in the top two primary elections in Washington state. He was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last November and hopes to retain his seat for the remaining two years of former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s four-year term.
Hobbs faces several Republican and independent challengers, including Tamborine Borrelli, an America First candidate who was fined by the state Supreme Court earlier this summer for making unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Hobbs and Pierce County Comptroller Julie Anderson, who is running as bipartisan and said she is the most experienced election commissioner, raised the most money. Republicans in the running include former state senator Mark Miloscia and current senator Keith Waggoner.
Under Washington’s primary system, the two frontrunners, regardless of party, advance to November’s general election. It will likely take days to count the results as it is a postal vote only.
Associated Press writers John Hanna of Topeka, Kansas and Rachel La Corte of Olympia, Washington contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the midterms, follow AP at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.
This story has been corrected to show that Trump loyalists support his false claims that he won the election, not that he lost the election.
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