Election-denying Oath Keeper ally might take over Arizona voting without even running a campaign
Mark Finchem on Aug. 2, 2022, at an election night party for Kari Lake. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

A right-wing conspiracy theorist might take over Arizona's elections without running much of a campaign of his own.

Mark Finchem, who turned up at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to challenge Donald Trump's election loss, has been running a virtually nonexistent campaign for secretary of state, but he may ride a Republican wave into office, reported the Washington Post.

“When the wave hits, it sweeps up a lot,” said one Republican strategist working on the midterms. “Institutional Republicans have largely stayed away from Finchem, but some of them still think he’s going to win. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Finchem raised just $1.8 million, as of a September filing, and has booked only $400,000 on ads, mostly on radio, compared to the $15.5 million spent by Democrat Adrian Fontes and outside groups painting the Republican state senator as a conspiracy theorist and Oath Keepers member.

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“I’m not trying to re-litigate 2020,” Finchem said at a September campaign stop, where he addressed 17 tea party activists. “I’m trying to avoid the train wreck that 2020 was in 2024.”

Finchem, who was leading Fontes 49-45 in a poll taken late last month, could refuse to certify vote counting machines if elected and could also force counties to conduct costly and less-accurate hand counts, or restrict voting locations or ballot access.

“These proposals that he has run on would lead to a system that is less efficient, more costly and less accurate — there’s a real danger that all those things could happen,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “It is certainly my hope that if he were elected, once he got into the system, he would understand that the things he is suggesting are not feasible and could actually damage the electoral system.”