Within hours of Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem (R) introducing his bill to “decertify” and “set aside” the 2020 election results in three of Arizona’s largest counties, two things happened.
Donald Trump celebrated the move in a public statement, calling it “Big News in Arizona!”
And Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) essentially doomed the bill to failure: “Mr. Finchem’s obviously unconstitutional and profoundly unwise proposal will receive all of the consideration it deserves,” Bowers said in a statement.
The two statements say a lot about Finchem’s bill: It’s likely not going anywhere, and it also thrilled Finchem’s most important supporter in his campaign to become Arizona’s next secretary of state.
Plaudits quickly rolled in from other high-profile right-wingers who’ve embraced the Big Lie, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward, Arizona’s top Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Trump pardon recipient and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who noted that a proposal to purportedly decertify the 2020 election (a legal impossibility) has also been introduced in Wisconsin.
The sponsor of that Wisconsin decertification bill, state Rep. Tim Ramthun (R), has it framed in gold in his office, Rolling Stone recently reported — next to a statement from Trump praising him.
Finchem, a member of the Oath Keepers who was present in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, is also basking in Trump’s light: In May last year, Finchem wrote in a fundraising email that if he’d been Arizona’s secretary of state in 2020, “we would have won. Plain and simple.” Trump endorsed his campaign a few months later.
Finchem’s campaign website now features his press release about decertifying the 2020 election in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, as well as news coverage from several far-right publications, including Gateway Pundit.
“Evidence and testimony collected since November 3, 2020, has reached the point of clear and convincing,” Finchem said in the press release, promising “citations of various elements justifying the resolution” in the bill text itself.
But the legislation, no surprise, is full of previously debunked claims from the partisan “audit” of Maricopa County, as well as the shambolic “hearing” held by Rudy Giuliani in Arizona days after the 2020 vote.
For example, Finchem’s bill notes that at Giuliani’s Nov. 30, 2020 “ad hoc public fact-finding hearing” (a press event at a downtown Phoenix hotel), the frequent Big Lie “expert” Shiva Ayyadurai claimed that the official election results in Arizona were impossible.
According to Finchem’s bill, the evidence presented showed that “the slope of tabulation for the presidential candidates could only be explained by a vote count of 130% of one party’s registered voters.”
In a fact-check article a few days after that event, however, a University of Arizona political scientist presented the much more obvious answer: Lots of Republican voters had not supported Donald Trump.
Finchem’s bill is chock full of nonsense like this, none of it acknowledging the extensive fact-checks of his non-evidence.
At one point, Finchem’s bill claims “Maricopa County reported 1,455 ballot envelopes having no signatures, yet they were counted.” But that was addressed in January by the county itself, which specifically said the opposite happened: 1,455 ballots without signatures were “returned but not counted.” (That figure was public within days of the 2020 election.)
Elsewhere, Finchem’s bill claims that the votes of 17,126 voters had been duplicated into 34,448 votes. This, too, was fact-checked by Maricopa County after the partisan auditors reported their flawed findings: The county only counts one vote per voter, though it also scans rejected ballots from voters that are missing signatures, or are otherwise flawed. These flawed ballots aren’t counted until they’re finally “cured” of their flaw.
Why did Finchem list nine pages of bogus non-evidence without engaging with the extensive fact-checks of that material? He didn’t return TPM’s request for an interview.
But aside from Bowers’ chiding, the man running to take over Arizona’s elections will likely face little political consequence for the bill: Ten state House Republicans and three state senators co-sponsored the bill with Finchem. The official state House Republican Twitter account promoted it, too — hours before Bowers’ denunciation.
The campaign benefits of embracing the Big Lie are clear as well: Last month, Finchem reported raising $663,000 from more than 11,000 small contributions since April, much of that from out-of-state donors. He trailed only one primary competitor, the advertising executive Edward “Beau” Lane, by just more than $50,000.