The Arizona Republican Party’s Anti-Democracy Experiment

But most of the GOP candidates seemed to share Bliss’s fears of majority rule as well as a desire to inflict harsh punishment on those they perceive the threats, deviants and un-Americans. Possibly the most notorious Arizona Republican to appear on the primary ballot was State Senator Wendy Rogers. She was censured in March by her fellow state senators for telling a white-nationalist group, referring to state and federal officials who had enacted Covid vaccine mandates“If we try some of these high-level criminals, convince them and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example of these traitors who betrayed our country.”

Yet Rogers would go on to win her primary, easily defeating a fellow GOP state senator, Kelly Townsend, whose communications with Trump lawyers have been subpoenaed by the FBI, presumably for information she might have about the plot by Trump allies to replace Arizona’s legitimate electors with fake ones. No moderate herself, Townsend recently vowed that vigilantes at primary polling stations would monitor voters deemed suspicious: “We’re going to have people parked out there watching you, and they’re going to follow you to your car and get your license plate .”

The leading name in this new Republican wave is that of Lake, the gubernatorial candidate, who was a well-known personality on Phoenix’s Fox affiliate for over two decades. At a Trump rally in Arizona I attended in January, she called for the arrest of illegal border-crossers and also of Dr. Anthony Fauci for unspecified Covid-related offenses, as well as unspecified conspirators “in that corrupt, shady, shoddy election of 2020.” To this litany of suspected criminals, Lake has also added teachers. “Put cameras in the classroom,” she told the Arizona conservative talk-radio host Garret Lewis last November, arguing that parents should have access to video evidence of “something being taught in the classroom” that they might deem objectionable.

Lake neatly if hyperbolically described the Arizona GOP’s us-versus-them outlook on Twitter in June: “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.” On her campaign website, Lake describes the media — her former profession — as “corrupt” and “the enemy of the people.” A campaign video displays her bashing televisions to bits with a sledgehammer and a baseball bat. At a rally the night before the primary, she directed her audience to turn around and “show these bastards” — referring to the camera crews positioned on a riser — their disapproval, which theyed to do with loud jeers.

Lake has said she decided to leave journalism in 2021 because of disenchantment with the news media’s liberal bias. In fact, Lake herself donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. A decade later, her Lake’s preference had changed. She visited the White House in June 2019 to do a story for the local Fox affiliate on Stephanie Grisham, who years before served as the press secretary for the Arizona House Majority Caucus and who had just been named communications director for the first lady, Melania Trump . “What got me was how much of a fangirl for Donald Trump she was,” Grisham told me. “When she got there, she was absolutely gushing about him. I remember thinking, Even for Fox, this is a bit much.”

Trump endorsed Lake last September, a few hours after she wrote on Twitter that the likeness of the former president should be chiseled into Mount Rushmore. Trump also endorsed Blake Masters, now the Arizona Republican candidate for the US Senate against the incumbent Democrat, Mark Kelly. Masters, the 36-year-old former COO of Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, embraces the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. “If you say as a candidate, ‘Obviously, the Democrats, they hope to just change the demographics of our country, they hope to import an entirely new electorate,’ they call you a bigot,” he told Rob Hephner, who goes by Birdman, on the “Patriot Edition” podcast in April. Such views are in alignment with those of Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, who gave Masters his “forceful endorsement.” (Masters rejected the endorsement.) The campaign yard signs for Masters that I saw festooning Arizona’s highways bore pledges like “Blake Masters Will Prosecute Fauci” and “Blake Masters Won’t Ask Your Pronouns.”

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