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Arizona Audit Shares Shaky State GOP

But others Republicans warn that the amateurish conduct of the test and the conspiracy theories it reinforces could cause permanent damage to the party. They have to next year Defend an open governor’s seat and try to roll back one of the two Senate seats the Democrats took in the last two elections.

Instead of a wake-up call triggered by those two Trump-era losses and Biden’s narrow statewide victory, they fear the trial is the latest sign that the Republican Party is marginalizing itself in a state where it was once supreme ruled.

“First of all, you have to get to a point where you say, ‘Okay, we’re done. We have adequately addressed concerns that may exist in the church. ‘And I feel like we’re at that point,’ said Bill Gates, a Republican supervisor for Maricopa County, in an interview. He said the county prior examination and recounts of ballot papers which have already been determined to have no problems with the elections.

“I think this only applies to a certain section of the Republican Party,” said Gates. “I think there are many Republicans out there who are appalled by what is going on. I think there are very few independents who are not appalled by what is going on. But it’s not too late. “

However, others who support the exam say the party needs them to help their grassroots move forward from 2020 and focus on the political struggles ahead.

Arizona GOP chairman Kelli Ward said in a statement emailed that the review was being conducted because of voters in the state who had turned to the state Senate to raise concerns about the election. She fired Republicans who said it could hurt her chances for the next year.

“We are preparing for the 2022 elections and believe that the fight for electoral integrity will benefit our candidates in 2022,” said Ward. She criticized the media for focusing on “former Republicans and some current Republicans questioning the exam”.

“Let the audit go ahead and then we can talk about the results,” added Ward.

Division is a trusted state for the Arizona GOPand this is a symbol of a broader struggle within the party between Republicans who are relitigating the 2020 election and others trying to oppose Biden before 2022.

“They are listening to a very vocal Republican base in Arizona that is confident that something was wrong in the 2020 election, and they are responding to that vocal constituency,” said Stan Barnes, a Republican adviser and former senator. He added, “I disagree with some of my Republican chatter classes who say this is a 2022 republican belly flop.”

Rep. Andy Biggs, a well-known Trump supporter and possible Senate candidate, visited the examining site late last month and released one Video on Twitter promote it. Jim Lamon, a businessman and the first major candidate to run the race to challenge Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in 2022, said in a statement that “electoral integrity is a foundation of our republic” and an important issue for him.

“This test will help ensure that the American people have full confidence that all eligible Arizonans who cast ballots have accurately counted their votes,” said Lamon.

Governor Doug Ducey said the Republic of Arizona Recently, they would evaluate the results once they are complete. A spokesman did not return a request for comment from POLITICO, but informed the republic that the governor had been an Arizona election advocate even though the executive branch was not involved in the investigation.

Katie Conner, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, said in a statement that there would be a time to discuss the results of the audit, but that was not during the trial.

Brnovich “believes the legislature has the power to conduct the test and the judiciary agreed,” Conner said. “It would be inappropriate to interrupt the process just because some people claim it could be handled in other ways.”

The concerns go beyond the political consequences. Election administrators and security experts are also deeply concerned that this will further undermine confidence in the elections and open the door to unjustified challenges for future elections in the state and elsewhere.

The audit is carried out in part by a company called Cyber ​​Ninjas. The little known company is led by a man who has previously sponsored baseless conspiracies on the 2020 elections and seems to have little past experience of conducting elections or conducting audits.

“This is not an audit. It’s not even a recount, ”said Tammy Patrick, a former Maricopa County electoral officer who now serves as a senior advisor to the Democracy Fund. “If we continue to indulge in this type of activity, we will not live in a real, healthy democracy.”

The process will be interrupted in the coming week. as the examiners temporarily leave their room for previously scheduled graduation ceremonies.

But the disagreement will continue. Senate President Karen Fann sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Trustees this week highlighting “serious issues” from the review and requesting a public session next week. Trump and his political shop reinforced the letter. But the chairman of the board, Republican Jack Sellers, said in a statement that the company conducting the audit was “over their heads” and called the allegations “dangerous.” The board of directors will meet on Monday to dispute these claims, the Republic of Arizona said.

Fann defended the audit against critics who said it had political and institutional costs. And she disagreed that the exam effort itself added to choice concerns.

“I think there are political ramifications if no one answers someone’s questions,” she said, pointing to the large number of voters who have raised concerns, saying, “The least we can do is provide answers to get on with these questions. “

Democrats see many opportunities to continue attacking Republicans because of the divide within the party, especially if testing continues into the summer.

“The fragmentation of the Republican Party will play an outsized role in what is already preparing for a combative, expensive, and long GOP Senate primary in Arizona,” said Sarah Guggenheimer, spokeswoman for the state’s Democratic Party.

Chuck Coughlin, a seasoned Republican in the state, highlighted survey from his company At the end of March, this showed that 42 percent of voters believed there was significant fraud in the 2022 elections, and 54 percent said it did not. However, the poll found that 78 percent of Republicans, according to Coughlin, believed that the election had been fraudulent.

“They always talk about things that put them in an election impasse,” said Coughlin. “You’re not talking about Biden. They should make this massive expansion of the federal government their main topic and talk about how Arizona’s economy is growing and doing well. “

Some Republicans are pushing in that direction. Ducey – the temporary governor who has announced not to run for the Senate – stressed this week that he would end supplementary federal unemployment benefits and instead offer one-time bonuses for people returning to work. And national Republicans have not highlighted the 2020 exam or struggles in the state, instead focusing on criticizing Kelly on border issues.

Gates, the Republican who deeply criticizes the exam, agreed that the party needed to refocus, but said the GOP had time to do so without completely jeopardizing its chances in 2022. He said Biden’s agenda provided food to Republicans when it was their focus.

“There is a great opportunity, but the last thing the party should do now is relitigate the 2020 elections and basically say that if you don’t believe in the big lie, you are not welcome in this party,” said Gates said.

Zach Montellaro contributed to this article.

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