Far-right supporters of Trump’s election lies vie for office in Arizona

Arizona voters head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the state's primaries. Leading Republican candidates in some key contests have doubled down on far-right conspiracies denying the results of the 2020 election. Stephanie Sy reports on how these candidates are shaping the race.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Voters in Arizona head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the state's primaries, and in some of the key contests, leading Republican candidates have doubled down on far right conspiracies denying the results of the 2020 election.

    Stephanie Sy has more on how these candidates are shaping the race.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Republicans in Arizona agree on a lot.

  • Dawn, Republican Voter:

    I want to conserve traditional values, family values, First right amendment, Second right amendment, 10th Amendment, we the people.

  • Kathy, Republican Voter:

    We need to move on to the issues that are also critical, like water and the border and the economy and maintaining the economy that Arizona has been very lucky to have.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Dawn and Kathy are voters in Maricopa County, one of the largest Republican counties in America. Both voted twice for Donald Trump.

    But a big issue divides them and many primary voters here, whether the 2020 election was rigged for Joe Biden.

    You believe it was stolen?

  • Dawn:

    I do.

  • Kathy:

    That isn't true. It's not substantiated, and there's no evidence for it.

  • Bret Baier, FOX News Anchor:

    The FOX News Decision Desk is calling Arizona for Joe Biden. That is a big get.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    On election night, FOX News was the first news organization to project that Biden had won Arizona, shocking Trump supporters, including Dawn.

    As a poll volunteer in Chandler, Arizona, she says, only an hour earlier, she'd seen a truck carrying paper ballots away.

  • Dawn:

    FOX News is on, and they announce Trump lost Arizona? Arizona's been called? How could they call Arizona? They hadn't even gotten the votes from our location.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    News organizations don't tally paper ballots to project election winners, but, to Dawn, the early call was enough to sow doubt, doubt that the former president and those who still support him have exploited ever since.

    How successful that misinformation campaign is will be put to the test in Arizona on Tuesday. Republican candidates for some of the highest offices in the state, governor, U.S. senator, and secretary of state, have not only repeatedly talked about election fraud; they have made it a Keystone of their campaigns.

  • Question:

    You have called Joe Biden an illegitimate president. What does that mean?

    Kari Lake (R), Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate: He lost the election, and he shouldn't be in the White House. We had a corrupt election. I'd like to ask everyone on the stage if they would agree we had a corrupt, stolen election. Raise your hand.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Kari Lake is running for governor. Her campaign posters show her side by side with the former president.

  • Kari Lake:

    And we have got And make sure we don't end up with a McCain-Ducey RINO.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    At a recent rally in Tucson, Lake repeated the Trump playbook, accusing her opponent Karrin Taylor Robson, of getting ready to cheat in the primary.

  • Kari Lake:

    I guess if you're counting people who are dead people, who might be.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Kari Lake:

    But she's not up at the polls. And it makes me think they might be trying to set the stage for another steal.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Kari Lake's campaign is nothing, if not Trump-inspired, a media personality with no political experience, a no-holds-barred style who speaks to today's Republican base.

    But the MAGA crowd alone can't give her victory in the general election if she gets past the primary. Biden won Arizona by appealing to the state's largest group of voters, independents, and many Republicans crossed over.

    Are you concerned that you have alienated those independents and some of those Republicans who voted for Biden in this state with all the talk about decertifying the election?

  • Kari Lake:

    I'm not going to change who I am. My whole campaign has been based on my understanding of Arizona and the people of Arizona. And we want honest elections. We want honest elections for our Democrat friends, our independent friends, and our Republican friends.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    While Lake has Trump's endorsement, Robson has the support of the Republican establishment, current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Trump's Vice President Mike Pence, making the race a head to head fight between the two factions of the GOP.

    Stephen Richer (R), Maricopa County, Arizona, Recorder: I would say I'm sort of a libertarian-minded conservative.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Stephen Richer is the Maricopa County recorder. A Republican, he beat the Democratic incumbent to become the county's highest election official in 2020. And he says not only was the election honest, but that his Republican colleagues who claim otherwise are challenging the underlying foundation of the United States.

    You're saying those voting machines were absolutely secure?

  • Stephen Richer:

    That's a fact. Every single test has worked. They were used in multiple elections that nobody ever challenged prior to the November 2020 election. They went through federal certification. They went through state certification. They went through tests before the election. They went through a hand-count audit by the political parties themselves, and they always match 100 percent.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    But that, spoken by a conservative who voted for Trump, is still not enough for some voters, nor were the January 6 hearings that featured some of Trump's closest allies, like former Attorney General Bill Barr.

  • William Barr, Former U.S. Attorney General:

    The election was not stolen by fraud. And I haven't seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    You now have multiple people that were close to President Trump saying there just wasn't evidence to show widespread fraud that would have changed the outcome. And multiple people have come out and said that. They were trying to convince the president of this.

  • Dawn:

    I personally believe that there are people that were close to Trump that were not close to Trump in philosophies.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Multiple investigations, court cases, and audits showed the election was clean, and that was before millions of dollars were spent on a Republican-commissioned hand count in Arizona that also found Biden was the winner.

    But all of the Stop the Steal talk continues, and it's fallen on real people. Former Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman is a Republican who has worked in an overwhelmingly Republican county as an elections officer for over a decade.

  • Leslie Hoffman, Former Yavapai County, Arizona, Recorder:

    We see who you are. We see you. You better be nervous. You should lawyer up. You're as corrupt as the government you worked for.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    That's what she finds almost every day when she checks her e-mail.

  • Leslie Hoffman:

    I do have concern about certain people getting into office that will not believe in the work that we do. And, therefore, certifying the canvass might become a challenge.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    That's scary.

  • Leslie Hoffman:

    That's Very scary. What we're doing is so important.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Hoffman resigned a week ago, ahead of Tuesday's primary election.

    Blake Masters (R), Arizona Senatorial Candidate: President Trump-endorsed me because he likes to win.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    In the Senate primary, candidate Blake Masters is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. He also got the blessing of former President Trump, after he questioned the results of the 2020 election.

    Why are you hitching your wagon to a one-term president who lost this state two years ago?

  • Blake Masters:

    I wouldn't say I'm hitching my wagon. I would say I'm proud of President Trump for what he accomplished. I'm going to run from President Trump's successful term in the general election. Absolutely not.

    Do you know how many independents I meet who say: "Blake, we're sorry we voted for Biden. Please bring back the mean tweets because we want $2 gas. We want a border. We want to country that works"?

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Kathy, a Republican Party organizer, wants many of those same things, but says she won't vote for any candidate who promotes election fraud claims.

  • Kathy:

    We can't have that kind of dangerous rhetoric. And it cannot come from the top of the Arizona executives.

    This is why I'm going door to door. I know the people on the ballot. I know the people who really have the heart and soul of Arizona in their best interest here for our state. And that is why I will go every single day and knock doors until we can't.

    Hi.

  • Person:

    Hi. How are you?

  • Kathy:

    Hi. I'm good.

    I'm Kathy. And I'm going door to door for candidates who are running for office.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Knocking on those doors, she's as undeterred by the extreme heat of the Arizona summer as she is by the extreme views dividing her political party.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy in Phoenix.

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