'College-educated voters just aren’t into MAGA': Conservative slams Arizona election deniers for GOP losses
Before it evolved into a swing state, Arizona was a deep red state that was closely identified with the conservatism of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, Sen. John McCain. Goldwater suffered a landslide defeat when he ran against Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964’s presidential election, but in Arizona, he was revered by conservatives during his years in the U.S. Senate. And McCain, despite his reputation for working closely with Senate Democrats on bipartisan bills, didn’t shy away from being called a “Goldwater Republican” or “Goldwater conservative.”
But in 2023, Arizona will have a Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, and two Democratic U.S. senators: Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, who was reelected in the 2022 midterms and successfully defeated far-right MAGA Republican Blake Masters. Kelly will maintain the Senate seat once held by Goldwater and later, McCain.
But none of that is to say that Arizona has taken a hard-left turn. Sinema and Kelly are both centrists, and Hobbs narrowly defeated the far-right MAGA Republican nominee Kari Lake.
Lake has yet to concede and is vowing to fight the election results in court. Another MAGA election denialist, Liz Harris, who was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, is vowing that she won’t vote on a single bill unless Arizona officials agree to “hold a new election immediately.”
Conservative Washington Post opinion writer Henry Olsen is vehemently critical of Arizona’s election denialists in his November 22 column, arguing that their false claims about the 2020 and 2022 elections keep growing more and more ludicrous.
“The Trumpist belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent was always rooted in fiction,” Olsen explains. “Now, following the midterm elections, some in Arizona are showing how deep into this fantasy world they have ventured. Arizona is home for many of the most fervent true believers in the election fraud myth.”
Olsen has often been critical of the Biden Administration, but he has adamantly rejected the Big Lie. And he believes that Arizona Republicans made a huge mistake when, in 2022, they decided to “nominate an entire slate of candidates for statewide office who contended that the election was stolen” from Donald Trump in 2020.
“The slate was led by former television news anchor Kari Lake, whose steadfast advocacy of the election fraud myth was so pervasive that Donald Trump praised her chutzpah,” Olsen observes. “The former president even told Blake Masters, Arizona’s Republican Senate nominee, to emulate her. ‘Look at Kari,’ he said to Masters in a taped phone call. ‘If they say ‘how is your family,’ she says the election was rigged and stolen.’ The fraud squad was thus shocked when most of their candidates were defeated.”
The conservative columnist continues, “Lake, Masters and Mark Finchem — the Republican nominee for secretary of state, the office that oversees Arizona elections — all went down. Meanwhile, Abe Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for state attorney general, is trailing by a few hundred votes in a race that will likely go to recount. While Masters has conceded, Lake and Finchem have disputed the results and are pressuring the state’s outgoing attorney general, Mark Brnovich — who denied the claims of fraud in 2020 — to investigate.”
Olsen slams Harris for her claim that the reelection of Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a non-MAGA Republican, is proof that Arizona’s 2022 elections were tainted by fraud. Yee, Olsen notes, did not run as a MAGA election denier, and she won.
“Yee won for the same reason many Republicans have done better than Trump and his ultra-MAGA acolytes in the past few years: She appealed to GOP-leaning, college-educated voters who despise hardcore Trumpism,” Olsen argues. “That’s why Trump lost in 2020; educated suburbanites nationwide turned against a man they viewed as beneath the dignity of the office. That’s also why Lake and her crew lost.”
Olsen wraps up his column by emphasizing that if Arizona Republicans want to perform better in 2024, they will need to stay away from MAGA election denialists and conspiracy theorists.
“Moderate college-educated voters just aren’t into MAGA,” Olsen writes. “Republicans can win a national majority, but they cannot do so if they tout false election narratives and nominate extreme candidates. Arizona has been Ground Zero for the party’s fall into political perdition. Looking toward 2024, the race to replace Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema would be a good time for the state’s GOP to repent and receive the voters’ grace.
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