Mega-conspiracy theorist and MAGA Republican Mark Finchem lost the race for Arizona secretary of state, according to a projection from the Associated Press.
Democratic Adrian Fontes leads Finchem 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent, with 83 percent of votes counted. The former Maricopa County recorder and U.S. Marine will control the certification of election results in a crucial swing state.
Finchem ran an unusual campaign, with almost no paid advertising, public events, or media appearances, and with only one aide. Instead, he opted to ride the popularity of other more prominent right-wingers such as Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. The Republican, whose signature look includes a cowboy hat, campaigned under the slogan “Just Follow the Law”—but he seemed pretty intent on breaking it.
A 2020 election denier, Finchem was photographed in the mob outside the Capitol on January 6. He has denied going into the building but says he would not have certified the results that year and has hinted he might reject Democratic victories in the future. He had expressed deep distrust of vote-counting machines and could force counties to count the votes by hand, which experts say is slower and less accurate. He can also change rules on where to set up voting booths and work with the state government to restrict early and mail-in voting.
Finchem also expressed support for the groups of people who showed up, sometimes armed, at early voting stations in Arizona. They said they were watching for voter fraud, but many accused them of voter intimidation, as they would take photos of people dropping off their ballots and sometimes follow voters.
As if that weren’t dangerous enough, Finchem has embraced some conspiracy theories that even his fellow MAGA Republicans won’t touch. He has said he is a member of the Oath Keepers and has accused former Vice President Mike Pence of plotting both a coup to topple Trump and to steal the presidency in 2024.