Trump-aligned 2022 candidates embrace the Arizona audit crusade

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Republicans eager to please former President Donald Trump and his supporters journeyed to Maricopa County to observe the Arizona Senate's controversial audit of the November election.

It has become a pilgrimage of sorts, not just for lawmakers from states across the country interested in starting an audit of their own at home, but also for pro-Trump candidates, making it clear that more than seven months later, the 2022 election will be a contest in some GOP circles over who can best the rest in questioning the legitimacy of 2020's results.

Among the Trump faithful running for office are Senate candidates Josh Mandel of Ohio and former Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri, as well as Georgia gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones. None of them have received the former president's endorsement, but all three paid a visit this month to the audit, which has been taking place in Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, and each insists there should be more audits.

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Mandel, who made the trip to the venue on Monday, told the Washington Examiner in a phone interview that he believes the audit will show Trump won the election in Arizona. When asked if he saw evidence to support that conclusion, he said, “You asked my opinion.”

The Marine Corps veteran and former Ohio treasurer also called for audits in other states President Joe Biden won, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

On the question of whether he would support audits elsewhere, Mandel said, “Well, the same way that the state of Arizona is starting with Maricopa County, I think it's sensible for our country to start with a handful of states, and the states that make the most sense to begin with, in my mind, are Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. And listen, if every state performed an audit like Arizona is doing after every election, it would ensure that citizens know there's integrity and accountability in the process, which would translate into faith in our democracy.”

Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations, has repeatedly promoted his trip to the Maricopa County audit on social media and has called for copycats in other states.

Of the 19 bellwether counties that went to the presidential winner in every election from 1980 to 2016, 18 went to Trump in 2020, Greitens noted in an appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room podcast last month. Greitens suspects this could be a sign of fraud in last year's election, although no evidence has been presented to show that such an anomaly amounts to malfeasance.

On his campaign website is a post about how Greitens believes the audit could lead to the de-certification of the election results.

And there is Jones, a former Democrat who made headlines last year when announcing he would support Trump, who has made calling for a "forensic audit" of Georgia's election a sticking point to contrast himself with Gov. Brian Kemp, who became a political foe of Trump for his handling of the 2020 election and resisting efforts to overturn the results. Jones visit the Maricopa County audit last week.

Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast across the state. His lead of roughly 2 percentage points was due partly to his advantage in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, where the Democrat scored nearly 45,000 more votes than Trump. Roughly 2.1 million ballots were cast in the county.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who is spearheading the review, has said the audit is not meant to overturn the 2020 election results but rather to restore trust in the system and influence possible changes to voting laws.

Still, critics of the audit, including county officials and Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, warn the audit is undermining faith in the democratic process and have raised questions about the background and methods of the auditors themselves. On top of that, two previous election machine audits, conducted for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, showed no irregularities in the county's 2020 election. A recount of a sample of ballots also did not turn up any problems.

Taking a wider view of November's aftermath, federal and state election officials have insisted there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 contest. Trump's own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a statement in November that said the presidential election was "the most secure in American history." The Justice Department even appears poised to crack down on the Maricopa County audit before it releases its findings.

But the Maricopa County audit has become a beacon of hope for faithful Trump supporters after dozens of lawsuits with election fraud allegations and voting irregularities were rejected by courts around the country. Trump himself has egged on Republicans from other states to replicate the process swiftly and warned there would be election consequences if they should decline.

"Great patriots led by State Senator Doug Mastriano, Senator Cris Dush, and State Representative Rob Kauffman went to Maricopa County, Arizona, to learn the best practices for conducting a full Forensic Audit of the 2020 General Election. Now the Pennsylvania Senate needs to act," Trump said in a tweemail this month. "Senate President Jake Corman needs to fulfill his promise to his constituents to conduct a full Forensic Audit. Senator Dave Argall, Chairman of the State Government Committee, has to authorize the subpoenas, if necessary. The people of Pennsylvania and America deserve to know the truth. If the Pennsylvania Senate leadership doesn’t act, there is no way they will ever get re-elected!"

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Arizona Republican strategist Stan Barnes, in a phone interview with the Washington Examiner, said the conservatives who pushed for the audit "are not crazy, and they're not offended by the outcome of the election. What they're doing is, is responding to a constituency."

"You cannot go anywhere in Arizona where we're two or more Republicans are gathered and not address this topic," he added. "And so that the state Senate Republicans of Arizona are rational political figures serving a constituency that is the easy majority of the Republican base vote that wants this to happen."

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Tags: News, 2020 Elections, Donald Trump, Arizona, Voter Fraud, 2022 Elections, Josh Mandel, Eric Greitens, Vernon Jones

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Trump-aligned 2022 candidates embrace the Arizona audit crusade

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