Jul 12, 2022 - Politics

Lake, Finchem suggest election fraud could affect Republican primary

Side by side photos of Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake and Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem
Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem. Photos: Brandon Bell/Getty Images and Steve Helber/Associated Press

Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, GOP candidates for governor and secretary of state, respectively, are already suggesting that they'll blame election fraud if they lose the Aug. 2 Republican primary.

  • Both candidates have been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and have aggressively promoted the false allegations that the 2020 election was rigged against him.

State of play: At a June 28 fundraiser in Chandler, Finchem suggested that batches of ballots were suspicious in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's recent GOP primary win.

  • Finchem said, "Ain't gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy. I'm going to demand a 100% hand count if there's the slightest hint that there's an impropriety. And I will urge the next governor to do the same," according to a video of the event posted on the conservative media website Rumble.

Lake, whom Finchem called "Arizona's next governor," said she would "absolutely" do the same, noting that Trump never conceded his 2020 loss.

  • "He did not concede, and I think that was really smart because that was the most dirty, filthy, rotten election I've ever seen," Lake said.

Of note: Despite myriad claims that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, there has never been any evidence that the outcome was affected by fraud.

Zoom out: Lake has made other comments recently suggesting — without evidence — that the primary election vote could be affected by fraud.

  • During a June 29 debate against Karrin Taylor Robson and other Republican candidates, Lake said, "We don't have fair elections," and, "They're going to have to cheat even harder in order to win this."
  • After Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman announced her pending resignation earlier this month, Lake warned people on Twitter to "Keep your eyes peeled for election fraud."
  • Lake inaccurately said Hoffman's replacement would be chosen by four Democrats and one Republican. In reality, four of the five Yavapai County supervisors are Republicans.

What they're saying: Nothing. Neither candidate's campaign responded to requests from Axios for comment and for evidence that would back up their claims of possible fraud in the primary election.

Why it matters: The bogus fraud allegations that have roiled American politics for nearly two years began in the months before the 2020 election, when Trump baselessly claimed that the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated.

Context: Nearly every poll of the governor's race that's been publicly released over the past year showed Lake, a former Fox 10 anchor, leading the Republican field.

  • More recent polls have shown Robson closing the gap after spending millions on TV advertising.
  • The status of the four-way Republican primary for secretary of state is less clear.
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