Sep 29, 2022 - Politics

National Democrats will spend big in Arizona to support Adrian Fontes

A split screen showing Mark Finchem and Adrian Fontes during a debate

Screenshot of the Sept. 23 debate between Mark Finchem, left, and Adrian Fontes.

A national Democratic group is preparing to fund a likely seven-figure ad campaign to help Adrian Fontes in the secretary of state race.

Driving the news: The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS) announced on Tuesday that it's preparing a $25 million nationwide campaign to back Democrats in races to be their states' top election officials.

  • DASS is funding a campaign called Safe Accessible Fair Elections (SAFE), which is launching its first round of ads as part of an $11 million campaign in Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada.
  • The second part of that spending plan will be a $10 million to $14 million campaign split between Arizona and Georgia.
  • The money from DASS will fund a coordinated campaign between the Arizona Democratic Party and the Fontes campaign.

What's next: Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson Morgan Dick tells Axios that ads could begin airing next week, ahead of the start of early voting on Oct. 12.

  • DASS is funding a coordinated campaign between the party and Fontes.

Context: Secretary of state races are usually low-profile affairs, but support by Republican candidates across the country for false claims that the 2020 election was rigged, and for more restrictive voting laws, has brought them to the forefront in many states.

  • Republican nominee Mark Finchem has repeatedly made bogus claims that the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump.
  • He has questioned during a recent debate whether the election results should have been certified, and he sponsored legislation that would have thrown out the election results in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties based on unsubstantiated claims that they were "irredeemably compromised."
  • Finchem was part of the rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which he said he attended because he was bringing evidence of malfeasance to members of Congress ahead of the vote to certify President Biden's victory.

Between the lines: Polling shows the race between Finchem and Fontes to be competitive, and Democrats are hopeful that Finchem's record will turn off swing voters.

  • In Georgia, polling shows the Democratic nominee losing badly to the Republican incumbent.
  • If the Georgia race looks unwinnable for Democrats, DASS could decide to put the lion's share of that funding into Arizona.

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