BLOG / January 5, 2021

The integrity of our elections is actually under threat — where is the AZ GOP?

By Abigail Jackson

Over New Year’s weekend, the Washington Post published a recording of a damning hour long phone call between Trump and  Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State. Trump is clearly heard asking for an overthrow of the election results in Georgia: he uses his favorite tactics of threatening and abusing his power in demanding that Raffensperger “find” 11,780 votes — just one more vote than what President-Elect Joe Biden won the state of Georgia with.  

It comes as no surprise that the Arizona Republicans who have been the loudest about “election integrity” are not at all concerned about an actual attempt to illegally steal an election and subvert the will of voters. After all, a significant portion of the AZ Republican Party has spent the last month inciting calls to violence, using seditious language, and generally using their platforms as elected officials undermining confidence in the election. Notably, the AZ Republicans who have not participated in these acts have also done nothing to condemn it. 

So, what do Arizona Republicans have to say about Trump’s incriminating demands?

For a group that has spent the better part of two months shouting about the need for “election integrity” and who are gearing up to introduce voter suppression bills once the legislative session begins, legislators like Sen. Wendy Rogers (LD-06) and Sen. Kelly Townsend (LD-16) are noticeably silent about Trump’s threatening call. Instead, they’re continuing to operate in an alternate reality where Trump didn’t lose and they don’t have actual jobs serving the people of their districts.  However, many of Trump’s other usual surrogates in the AZ Legislature have kept their comments to a minimum. 

Two of Arizona’s Congressmen, Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05), have already pledged to fight for so-called election integrity. They claim they’ll do this by joining a (numerically insignificant) group of Congressional Republicans by contesting  the results of the legitimate election in Congress on Wednesday. None of the Republicans in Arizona’s congressional delegation have denounced Trump’s phone call, and Gosar even explicitly defended the phone call by undermining the severity of the implications of the call, and even going as far as mocking those who were rightfully concerned about the legality of the call. 

Reliably, chair of the AZ GOP, Kelli Ward, has been supportive of Trump during this scandal and described the phone call as “really good” and expressed outrage over the release of the recording (rather than the attempted overthrow of an election). 

The phone call is just another effort in the Trump team’s attempt to damage the legitimacy of our elections and the peaceful transfer of power. This Wednesday, January 6th, these efforts will culminate in a pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C. on the same day that Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the official election certification by Congress. While many AZ Republicans have been silent on the Georgia phone call, they have expressed support for this rally, a protest in which right-wing extremist groups and white supremacy groups are expected to attend in “record numbers.” 

Of course, if this “perfect” call to Georgia’s Secretary of State worked in Trump’s favor, it would’ve only resulted in 16 more electoral votes for Trump — not enough to put him over the 270 threshold. It begs the question, who else did Trump call? 

Governor Doug Ducey has an infamous history of personal phone calls with Trump. Though they have broken lately on the election results, Gov. Ducey  has a responsibility to Arizonans about being transparent about any recent off-camera attempts by the outgoing president to influence Arizona’s election.

Despite multiple failed lawsuits and no real path to stop the certification process, the election conspiracies are still being promoted by many of Arizona’s elected officials. At a time when Arizona has the highest spread of COVID-19 cases in the US, Republicans are focused on overturning the will of voters in order to steal the election for Trump. Republicans have made it clear that their main concern is not really about fair and free elections, but about protecting Trump and their own political careers.

The danger this poses to our democracy can’t be understated. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as our next president, but it’s unacceptable for state officials to feed the delusion that the election was stolen from Trump, and that this behavior is normal. Arizona Republicans need to condemn the phone call outright and stop promoting baseless conspiracy theories that do nothing to serve their constituents.