- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Former President Donald Trump’s picks dominated the primary races in Arizona, underscoring his lingering influence over the Republican Party and the resonance of his stolen-election claims nearly two years after he narrowly lost the state.

Trump-endorsed candidates won the GOP nominations for U.S. Senate, secretary of state and legislative races, and were leading in the races for governor and attorney general.

Political newcomer Blake Masters emerged victorious in Arizona’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate and advanced to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in what is expected to be one of the biggest and most expensive races of the 2022 midterm elections.

Mr. Masters, a tech investor, got a significant financial boost from billionaire Peter Thiel and a shot of momentum from Mr. Trump’s endorsement in the closing weeks of the campaign.

That support helped him power past solar energy executive Jim Lamon, who spent millions of his personal fortune on his bid, and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who came under intense criticism from Mr. Trump for refusing to further his claims of rampant voter fraud.

Things were still up in the air in the GOP gubernatorial race, in which Trump-backed Kari Lake seized the lead away from Karrin Taylor Robson after votes were tallied overnight.

Ms. Robson, a lawyer and land use consultant, has the support of former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey, who also served as co-chair of the Republican Governors Association.

Ms. Lake, a former television news anchor, embraced the rigged election claims and in Trump-like fashion warned before the election that her rivals were trying to steal the nomination from her.

The winner of that race will face off against  Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Ms. Hobbs handily won the Democratic nomination after vehemently defending the results of the 2020 election and pushing back against related conspiracy theories.

State Rep. Mark Finchem, meanwhile, was declared the winner in the GOP race for secretary of state. Mr. Finchem spent more than a year claiming the 2020 election was rife with voter fraud and received Mr. Trump’s endorsement early in the race.

Abe Hamadeh, another Trump-backed candidate, was leading his race for attorney general.

In addition, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers lost his bid for the state Senate against David Farnsworth.

Mr. Bowers received glowing reviews after he testified before the House Jan. 6 committee about the pressure campaign Mr. Trump and his allies applied in an attempt to flip the outcome of the Arizona election.

Days later Mr. Trump announced his support for Mr. Farnsworth.

On Wednesday, Sen. Rick Scott, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for Senate Republicans, congratulated Mr. Masters on his win, saying he presents a clear contrast with Mr. Kelly.

“D.C. Darling Mark Kelly has completely abandoned Arizona,” said Mr. Scott, Florida Republican. “Arizonans literally can’t afford 6 more years of Mark Kelly’s reckless agenda.

“Blake Masters will take on Joe Biden and D.C. Democrats,” he said. He’ll fight to secure the border and lower prices.”

The Kelly campaign welcomed Mr. Masters to the race by casting him as an extremist.

“Blake Masters has dangerous beliefs that are wildly out of step with Arizona and harmful to Arizona families,” said Kelly campaign manager Emma Brown. “Meanwhile, Kelly’s work has earned him broad support across the state from Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike.” 

“Arizonans trust Kelly to always put our state first, which is why they are joining this people-powered campaign that is rocketing full speed ahead to November,” Ms. Brown said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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