There's only 1 way to fix the Arizona GOP: Make it lose in November

·3 min read
People watch the monitors as early votes roll in during a watch party for U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters at the New Square in Chandler on Aug. 2, 2022.
People watch the monitors as early votes roll in during a watch party for U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters at the New Square in Chandler on Aug. 2, 2022.

What on earth has happened to the Arizona Republican Party? Earlier this month, Republicans nominated the most extreme slate of candidates in recent memory.

I’m a lifelong Republican, but I can’t even recognize the state GOP. My party has gone from respected to disreputable in just a couple of election cycles. We used to elect people like Barry Goldwater, John McCain and Jeff Flake – Republicans who had principles.

Goldwater told Richard Nixon to resign. McCain was a decorated war hero and an esteemed senator. Flake stood up to his party and President Trump, forfeiting his hold on power in the process.

Now, instead of nominating distinguished leaders, the party has elevated a slew of unhinged and anti-democratic candidates.

It pains me to say this of my own party: The Arizona GOP is beyond repair.

Lake believes the 2020 election was stolen

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to supporters during an election night party in Scottsdale on Aug. 2, 2022.
Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to supporters during an election night party in Scottsdale on Aug. 2, 2022.

The path forward, in the short term, is to defeat the most deranged candidates the party nominates. And there is no shortage of them this year.

At the top of the ticket is Kari Lake, the former TV anchor and current Republican nominee for governor. She has few substantive positions other than her belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

In February, she said, “Joe Biden is our president just like O.J. Simpson is innocent.” She said she would not have certified the 2020 election had she been governor, which means that she would have invalidated the will of Arizona voters out of fealty to one man and one lie. She is so obsessed with election denial that she claimed there was “corruption” in the primary that she just won.

Finchem promotes conspiracies

State Rep. Mark Finchem (right) is interviewed during an election night party for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Scottsdale on Aug. 2, 2022. Finchem is leading in his race for Arizona secretary of state.
State Rep. Mark Finchem (right) is interviewed during an election night party for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Scottsdale on Aug. 2, 2022. Finchem is leading in his race for Arizona secretary of state.

State Rep. Mark Finchem, the GOP’s secretary of state nominee, actually tried to decertify elections in 2020. Given that the secretary of state oversees elections, we can expect that Finchem, if elected, will do everything in his power to prevent a Democrat from winning the state. He simply won’t sign off on the result.

To make matters scarier, he has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories. He said that “a whole lot of elected officials” are implicated in “a pedophile network in the distribution of children.”

Masters praised the Unabomber

Blake Masters scratches his forehead while an opponent speaks to a crowd of Republican voters at the party's primary debate for the U.S Senate in Phoenix on June 23, 2022.
Blake Masters scratches his forehead while an opponent speaks to a crowd of Republican voters at the party's primary debate for the U.S Senate in Phoenix on June 23, 2022.

Then there’s the Big Liar Senate nominee, Blake Masters, who released an ad saying, “I think Trump won in 2020.” He said he would have objected to the 2020 election certification if he had been in office.

He supports a national abortion ban and has blamed gun violence on Black people. He espouses the “great replacement theory,” the idea that Democrats are trying to flood the country with millions of immigrants in order “to change the demographics of our country.” As if that weren’t enough, Masters praised the Unabomber as an “underrated thinker.”

Don't even start on Gosar and Rogers

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar

Arizona has plenty of Republican elected officials who are unnerving. The most notorious of them is Rep. Paul Gosar, who last year sent out a fundraising email in which he claimed that “the FBI might have had a hand in planning and carrying out” the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

There’s state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who says crazy stuff all the time, including that the European Union represents “Germany’s attempt to rebuild the Third Reich” and that “the Communists stole the election from [Trump].”

And yet, she just won her primary.

The state Republican Party can’t be restored with nominees like these representing us.

If we can send a message to the party that lunacy and conspiracism do not win, then maybe we can save the Arizona GOP and return to being a sane and honorable party once again.

Linda Rawles is an attorney and lifelong Republican in Carefree.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona GOP can only be fixed if its candidates lose in November