Arizona Republicans on Tuesday nominated a state lawmaker linked to the QAnon conspiracy movement to be their next state secretary of state but dealt a mixed result to other candidates with QAnon ties.
State Rep. Mark Finchem won the GOP primary for Arizona secretary of state, emerging victorious with more than 40 percent of the vote in the four-way GOP primary. He will likely face off in November against Democrat Adrian Fontes, a Maricopa County recorder who had a strong lead in early voting results as of early Wednesday.
Nearly 80 candidates with links to QAnon have run for state or federal office in the 2022 election season, according to an ongoing Grid review, and the victory by Finchem increases to at least 16 the count of QAnon-linked candidates for statewide and congressional office who have advanced to the general election so far in 2022.
Heading into Tuesday, Arizona had at least 13 candidates with ties to QAnon participating in the 2022 primaries, more than any other state in the country, Grid’s review found.
QAnon is an internet-driven conspiracy movement whose beliefs encompass former president Donald Trump’s false stolen election claims. Its core tenets include the belief that an elite cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles runs the world, “a storm is coming” soon to remove elites in power and restore rightful leadership, and American patriots may need to resort to violence to save the country. These ideas are intertwined in the QAnon mythology with the belief that Trump is the leader who will remove the elites from power.
Finchem has repeatedly posted QAnon-related content on social media, according to the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters, and has made comments reflecting ideas at the core of QAnon’s belief system in recent years.
“We’ve got a serious problem in this nation. There’s a lot of people involved in a pedophile network in the distribution of children,” Finchem said in a 2020 interview with Victory Media. “And, unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of elected officials that are involved in that.”
Finchem is among a cluster of QAnon-linked, far-right candidates who have spread false information about the 2020 presidential election and have secured GOP nods for state secretary of state posts this year.
In Nevada, Jim Marchant, who has said he would not have certified his state’s election of President Joe Biden if he held the seat in 2020, won the Republican primary for his state’s secretary of state seat in June.
In Michigan, relative political newcomer Kristina Karamo was endorsed by the Michigan Republican Party in April, all but assuring she will be formally nominated and face incumbent Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in November. A community college professor who has never held elected office, Karamo rose to prominence in late 2020 after she baselessly reported that she witnessed fraud at Detroit’s TCF Center where she was a “poll challenger” the 2020 presidential election.
Finchem, Marchant and Karamo have each spread baseless claims about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election in their states, which are considered presidential election battlegrounds, and are running for offices whose officeholders play a key role in election administration.
Karamo, Finchem and Marchant attended the QAnon-linked “For God & Country: Patriot Double Down” convention in Nevada last year, and each has made comments reflecting ideas at the core of QAnon’s belief system in recent years. The Democratic Party, Karamo said in November 2020, “has totally been taken over by a satanic agenda.” Marchant has recently used rhetoric familiar to the QAnon movement, with frequent allusion to a “global cabal” that is controlling banks, industry and the economy.
Outside of the Arizona secretary of state race, QAnon-linked candidates had a mixed track record in primaries held in several states on Tuesday.
- QAnon-linked Arizona congressional candidate Ron Watkins — who is widely believed to have authored some of the internet posts under the “Q” pseudonym that helped create the movement — finished a distant seventh in the GOP primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.
- Arizona congressional candidate Josh Barnett finished third in a primary seeking to unseat incumbent Rep. David Schweikert.
- In Arizona’s state legislative races, at least four other candidates with QAnon ties were on pace to win their primaries. They include incumbent state Rep. Leo Biasiucci and State Sens. Sonny Borrelli and Wendy Rogers — who each appeared alongside Finchem at a QAnon-tied convention in Nevada last year. Early returns on Wednesday showed State Sen. Vince Leach, who had shared a QAnon cartoon on social media, was on pace to lose his primary to challenger Justine Wadsack, who has shared QAnon content on social media.
- In an Arizona state Senate race, incumbent State Sen. David Farnsworth, who has called QAnon a “credible group,” easily beat back a challenge from Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who was censured by the state party after he offered testimony critical of Trump to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
- In Washington state, which also held primaries on Tuesday, incumbent State Rep. Rob Chase, who has shared QAnon content on social media, finished second in a nonpartisan primary in which the top two advance.
The Trump effect
More broadly, Tuesday’s primaries appeared to deliver several victories for the MAGA wing of the GOP.
Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary was too close to call between Trump-endorsed candidate Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson as of Wednesday morning. In the race, both candidates had tried to position themselves as closely aligned with Trump.
In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of 10 Republican congressmen to vote to impeach Trump, narrowly lost his primary to Trump-endorsed challenger John Gibbs.
Meijer is the second pro-impeachment Republican to lose his primary, joining Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., who also voted to impeach Trump in 2021 and lost his primary to a Trump-backed challenger in June.
In Washington state’s primaries on Tuesday, Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse — both of whom also voted to impeach Trump — met two different fates.
Newhouse won the nonpartisan primary in his district, fending off Trump-endorsed challenger Loren Culp, and will face Democrat Doug White in November.
Herrera Beutler finished third in the nonpartisan primary for her district, behind Trump-endorsed challenger Joe Kent and Democrat Maria Perez, and will not advance to the general election.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler advanced in her Washington state primary election to the general election. This version has been corrected.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.