The Arizona GOP is heading 'down the rabbit hole' ahead of the 2022 primary election

The Arizona GOP is heading 'down the rabbit hole' ahead of the 2022 primary election
Make America Great Again hat in support of Donald Trump at a rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. // Gage Skidmore

According to Politico, Arizona Republicans are stacking their 2022 primary election ballots with a full roster of "conspiracy theorists and extremists that could threaten the party's prospects in a state that's drifted leftward in recent elections."

Ron Watkins, a household name in the world of the QAnon who has been suspected of being "Q," is one example of the type of candidates on the ballot. The conspiracy theorist, who recently entered Arizona's House race, has publicity lauded the extremist organization, The Proud Boys.

The uptick in extremist Republican candidates comes amid intraparty sparring where those "deemed insufficiently loyal to [former president Donald] Trump" have been targeted. Bill Gates, a Republican supervisor in Maricopa County, recently weighed in on the situation.

"The goalposts keep moving," said Gates. "It used to be that we got into genuine debates about whether you're more of a conservative or a moderate. We used to debate over ideology. And now it is how far you can go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. And if you're unwilling to do it, it doesn't matter if you're pro-life, if you've never voted for a tax increase. It doesn't matter. It's all about going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, unfortunately."

Rory McShane, a Republican strategist focused on the upcoming House and state election races in Arizona, noted state Republicans have "moved further into the coalition built by President Trump."

"The Republican primary voter base has become tired of being betrayed by campaign-only conservatives — people who run for office saying, 'I'm going to do all these great, conservative things,' then get into office and haggle with Democrats over how much more to spend and how much more to give up the principles of the party," said McShane. "In the late '90s, early 2000s, if you had the faith coalition on board, you had the Republican primary. Now it's moved further into the coalition built by President Trump."

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