Anyway, what all of that is leading up to is the news that the Arizona primaries will be decided on Tuesday, and it now seems an absolute certainty that no matter what the vote totals end up being, the day will only set the state up for a new round of hingeless conspiracy ranting that will likely last until … God only knows. There’s no obvious half-life on election crankery. The Arizona Republican primaries have been an absolute car wreck, because the Arizona Republican Party has been pumping out crank after crank after crank for a decade now and there’re few left in the party who even remember what pretending at normalcy looked like, back when you didn’t necessarily have to be weird beyond belief to vote for a Republican slate.
At least two Republican candidates are already vowing that if they lose their primary races on Tuesday, it is because ElEKtiON FRaUd happened and their Republican opponents were in on it.
Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, an absolute crackpot in the best of times, is already preparing the groundwork for her possible loss. That doesn’t mean a personal acknowledgement that her own relentless election conspiracies (she doesn’t think Joe Biden is the legitimate American president) may have turned off voters who do not want Arizona to be thought of as a clown motel the size of an entire state, but yet another conspiracy theory. The Washington Post reports on those new claims:
“We’re already detecting some fraud,” Lake told a rally crowd. And “we’ve got cyber folks working with us.” And “I’m hoping that we have the sheriffs that will do something about it.”
Ah, yes, the cyber folks. Defenders of elections everywhere, warriors of the spreadsheets, susser-outers of errata and arcana. There is always the possibility that space aliens, China, or an underground conspiracy run from unseen basements under Walmart stores is looking to foil Lake’s bid to turn Arizona into a fascist circus in which every elephant has a gun and future elections are literally impossible for the state to even pull off.
The invocation of “the sheriffs” is particularly ominous. Lake is suggesting that if she doesn’t win the election, the “constitutional sheriffs” who have allied with election fraudsters will start seizing machines and ballots and not give any of them back, claiming the election itself was a criminal enterprise.
Another Trumpite competitor, Michigan transplant self-made into big-buckle desert cowboy Mark Finchem, is running for secretary of state—that is, he wants to be the person responsible for running every election after November’s. Finchem is a militia crank who participated in the Jan. 6 coup attempt, is a vigorous election conspiracy theorist on Trump’s behalf, appears to have no few to no beliefs that are not centered around conspiracy theories, appears to be running a campaign that’s mostly a slush fund for one particular Republican consulting firm, appears to have literally no redeeming qualities or accomplishments whatsoever in his ex-family and ex-professional life, and in a better country would have no public role greater than “town hall audience crank #3” or “aspirational catheter spokesperson.”
Finchem was able to gain Trump’s backing, thanks to the whole “conspiracy-crank participant in an attempted coup” thing, must best fellow Republican Beau Lane and two others in Tuesday’s primaries. It may be a tall order, but he, too, is already certain that if he doesn’t win it’s because the conspiracies against him and Trump are just that powerful. Lane “is a Democrat Plant,” Finchem asserts on Twitter.
Well, sure, it could be that. Or it could be that Finchem would call the surrounding saguaro cacti Democrat plants if he thought one was gesturing rudely in his direction.
Really now, aren’t there catheters that need selling?
Arizona, mind you, is a beautiful state. Parts of it, anyway. Yuma is hell’s own waiting room and Phoenix, whatever its past charms might have been, is at this point a too-extended piece of performance art, a case study in “what if we transplanted the worst of modern suburbia into the world’s largest air fryer?” The parts that are nice we’ll keep to ourselves—and it doesn’t matter anyway, now that even entering the state puts you at risk of law enforcement officers with skin color charts taped to their windshields, legislators for whom clown motel proprietor would be an almost-unthinkable step up in careers, and a parade of white nationalists, militia-adjacent revolutionaries, bellowing con artists, and straight-up fascists all vie to turn the state into Kafkaesque fever dream.
Whatever it is that’s turning the state’s Republican Party into an all-conspiracy, all-the-time carnival of American losers needs to be discovered, analyzed, and treated right quick, though. State politics is only going to get more intense as water becomes scarcer, and if all it takes to send the whole state Republican Party around the bend is one election in which the golf course blowhard couldn’t muster a pandemic-riddled win, how long will it be before the Lakes, the Finchems, and the Masterses have staked out their own corners of the state as heavily armed fiefdoms “independent” from the rest of government because they said so, that’s why?
Buckle in, because no matter how Tuesday’s elections turn out, Republicans are going to call them “rigged.” That is, after all, what most of their campaigns are based around.
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