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The far-right Patriot Party of Arizona has taken on a new form and new leadership, in the form of former GOP state Rep. John Fillmore, who is aiming to distance the group from its founders and reigniting an attempt to make it a full-fledged political party.
The Patriot Party of Arizona was formerly headed by Daniel McCarthy and Steven Tyler Daniels. McCarthy sought the U.S. Senate seat in 2020 as a Republican, but lost in the primary election to Martha McSally. Daniels earlier this year failed in his bid to become chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. Both men have been known in Arizona politics for their often brash political tactics against what they call the “uni-party” system.
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Now, Fillmore will be taking over the party, according to an email sent out by the party.
“Both (McCarthy and Daniels) will no longer be affiliated with the popular constitutional conservative movement in any capacity,” the email reads. “The separation and succession by Fillmore is to replace and end a divisive atmosphere in the drive to become an Arizona State Political Party.”
In the email, the nascent political party said the recent expulsion of Liz Harris from the Arizona House of Representatives, which was supported by a majority of Republican legislators, shows that conservatives “cannot continue to sit back and have any confidence in the GOP, a party we all have loved and respected at one point and think they will do what they promised to do for Arizonians.”
The group has been aiming to become a recognized political party in Arizona since 2021, which allows its candidates access to the ballot, but missed a deadline to turn in signatures ahead of 2022.
“The decision was made to seek additional signatures needed to attain the Arizona County and local races such as Sheriff, Recorders and Supervisors,” the email to Patriot Party supporters this week said, claiming that they have enough signatures to qualify as a party for state and federal offices.
Fillmore is no stranger to the group. During his time at the legislature, he backed a controversial election bill that would have given lawmakers the power to reject election results. It was pushed largely by the Arizona Patriot Party.
The group has gained the attention and support of extremists on the far-right, such as anti-LGBTQ provocateur Ethan Schmidt, who McCarthy encouraged to harass people wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The first time I met Ethan, that’s what I said, I said, ‘Go out and f***ing shame people with masks,’” McCarthy said in a video uploaded by Schmidt. “Every single person that is wearing a mask right now should be legitimately ostracized from society.”
The group has also attracted the attention of others, such as far-right extremist Jennifer Harrison, who is infamous for harassing migrants and using bear mace on protesters on multiple occasions.
The former leaders themselves are no stranger to extreme activities. Daniels was arrested while disrupting a school board meeting in Chandler in 2021. The Patriot Party of Arizona was heavily involved in protests at school boards across the state starting at the small town of Vail where a large crowd of parents filled up the board chambers. Among them were Daniels and state Sen. Justine Wadsack.
The move by Fillmore to take over the party comes as Democrats in Arizona are suing over the No Labels Party that was allowed to place candidates on the ballot.
The Arizona GOP did not respond to a request for comment.
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