Fontes ran on a platform promising to defend Arizona’s voting system, calling his opponent a danger to democracy.
Adrian Fontes ran on a platform promising to defend Arizona’s voting system, calling his opponent a danger to democracy. | Alberto Mariani/AP Photo
By Zach Montellaro
Democrat Adrian Fontes will be Arizona’s next secretary of state, defeating a supporter of former President Donald Trump who has spread conspiracy theories about elections.
Fontes, a former election official for the state’s largest county, Maricopa County, defeated Republican Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker who was endorsed by Trump for the position. Fontes ran on a platform promising to defend Arizona’s voting system, calling his opponent a danger to democracy.
In Arizona, Finchem — who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and once identified as a member of the Oath Keepers — has boosted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Finchem co-hosted a meeting in November 2020 with Trump’s then-attorney Rudy Giuliani, where Trump called in to criticize state officials for certifying the election.
He was also a major proponent of a review authorized by the GOP-controlled state Senate of all the ballots cast in Maricopa County in November 2020 — which bipartisan election officials, along with the Republican-controlled Maricopa County government, derided as an unprofessional fishing expedition.
Finchem has also called for the 2020 election to be decertified — something that is not legally possible — and has called for restricting early voting in the state.
Fontes served as Maricopa County’s recorder, the county’s chief election position, for four years after narrowly winning the office in 2016. Fontes lost a close election to Republican Stephen Richer in 2020. Richer went on to defend the county’s handling of the 2020 election during the state Senate review of the ballots there, which did not substantiate any legitimate claims of fraud.
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Fontes will replace Democrat Katie Hobbs as Arizona’s chief election official. Hobbs is locked in a still-uncalled race for governor this year against Republican Kari Lake, a former TV anchor.
In addition to serving as the state’s chief election official, Fontes will in effect be the state’s second-highest-ranking statewide official. Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, and the secretary of state assumes the governorship should a sitting governor resign or otherwise not finish out their term. The last secretary of state to do so was Jan Brewer in 2009.
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Democrat Fontes wins Arizona secretary of state race – POLITICO