One of the leading proponents of the claims of election fraud in Arizona now wants to be in charge of the system.
State Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, has filed a formal “statement of interest” in running for secretary of state in 2022. That move allows him to begin collecting the signatures he would need to put his name on the ballot.
Finchem is unlikely to be alone.
Democrat Katie Hobbs, the current holder of the office, is likely eyeing a gubernatorial bid, what with incumbent Doug Ducey unable to seek a third term. That portends a wide-open race for the office whose duties include being the state’s chief elections officer.
But the office holds far more importance than the assigned tasks that also cover everything from regulating notaries public to registering telephone solicitors. Under the Arizona Constitution, the secretary of state is first in line of succession if the governor quits, dies or resigns, something that has occurred multiple times over the past few decades.
Also likely in the hunt, though there has been no formal action yet, is state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who chairs the Senate Committee on Government and Elections.
Finchem was one of the prime organizers of what was billed as a legislative hearing last year at a downtown Phoenix hotel to hear unverified claims of widespread election fraud in the November tally that gave the state’s 11 electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden. The prime witness was Rudy Giuliani, attorney for Donald Trump, and even included the now-former president calling in to complain about the process and the results.
He also sought to have the Legislature called into special session to invalidate the results and award those electoral votes to Trump.