Arizonans are still waiting for the full results of the state’s Republican gubernatorial race. As of Wednesday evening Donald Trump-backed candidate Kari Lake was still slightly ahead of Karrin Taylor Robson, but the race was much closer than expected. While polls showed tightening in the final days before the vote, Lake was still considered the clear front-runner.
Lake ran on the issue of secure elections, claiming on her website that the “scope and scale” of discrepancies in the 2020 presidential election could have changed the outcome. Although the Lake-Robson race was close, Republican voters in Arizona largely rejected candidates who stood by the 2020 election results, including Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who ran for a state Senate seat after hitting term limits in the House.
Bowers drew the ire of Trump supporters when he testified at a Jan. 6 committee hearing last month. Bowers, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was defeated by fellow church member David Farnsworth, who received Trump’s endorsement. Farnsworth is running unopposed in the November general election.
“I felt that the election was stolen. I believed it was stolen, because I know Arizona,” Farnsworth told Business Insider. For his part, Bowers, who says Biden won in 2020, told the Associated Press he would testify again despite his election loss. “I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said. “I’d do it 50 times in a row.”
For Republican voters in Arizona, it seems, two years wasn’t long enough to shake off many of the storylines from the presidential election. Trump won Arizona in 2016 by a small margin, but went on to lose the state in 2020 by an even smaller one. Only 10,457 votes separated President Joe Biden and Trump in the official tally.
The battle over election results in Arizona went on for months, with state lawmakers getting involved by ordering an audit of the results in Maricopa County, the state’s largest county and typically a Republican stronghold. Biden narrowly won the county, which the audit confirmed.
No credible claims of widespread voter fraud have emerged since the election, despite several high profile investigations. And even if Trump had won Arizona’s 11 electoral college votes, he still would have lost the election. However, many Republican voters remain skeptical of the 2020 results and lack both trust in voting security and the press, which Lake spoke about from her perspective as a former television reporter.
A recent Gallup poll showed only 5% of Republicans had a great deal or quite a lot of trust in newspapers, and that number only went up to 8% for trust in television news.
Republican voters also have little faith in the nation’s election system, with 59% saying they are “not so confident” or “not confident at all” in the system, according to an ABC poll conducted earlier this year.
Several other Arizona Republicans were able to capitalize on this distrust and anger in their campaigns. The winners in the Tuesday Republican primary included election skeptics like U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, and Mark Finchem, candidate for secretary of state. Both received Trump endorsements. Trump has had mixed success this year with his endorsements, but candidates he backed in Arizona won almost across the board.