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Finchem recall campaign pulls the plug on trying to force an election

By: - June 15, 2021 2:10 pm

A supporter of the recall effort against Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, holds a sign during a Rural Arizonans for Accountability press conference at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza on March 5, 2021. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror.

The recall campaign against Oro Valley Republican lawmaker Mark Finchem has ended after the group conducting the recall determined it would not be able to collect the needed signatures by the looming July 8 deadline. 

“They’re going to continue to talk to voters in his district,” Tony Cani, a spokesperson for the recall campaign organized by Rural Arizonans for Accountability, told the Arizona Mirror. The campaign gathered more than 18,000 signatures and spoke with 30,000 others in Finchem’s district, according to Cani. The campaign needed about 25,000 signatures to force a recall election. 

Had the campaign succeeded, Finchem would have been only the second state legislator to face a recall election, joining former Senate President Russell Pearce, who was removed from office via recall in 2011.

Rural Arizonans for Accountability launched the recall because Finchem has stoked voter fraud conspiracies, has ties to organizers of the “#StopTheSteal” movement and was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier this year, Finchem threatened legal action against the recall campaign and his lawyer sent a cease and desist order, demanding the group destroy all its campaign materials and issue retractions in local newspapers. The attorney, Alexander Kolodin, previously represented Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company conducting the Arizona Senate’s audit. 

Though he pledged to sue the recall organizers, Finchem’s suit has never materialized. However, he has sued fellow legislator Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, for allegedly defaming him and former lawmaker Anthony Kern.

Cani said Finchem’s threats to sue his political opponents were a net positive for the recall campaign.

The threat of the lawsuit, if anything, helped the recall collect more signatures and find more supporters,” he said, adding that it did not factor into the campaign’s decision to stop the recall effort. The campaign spent over $450,000 dollars on the effort and felt it was “unrealistic” that it could reach its ultimate goal, Cani said. 

Cani said the group still plans to try to hold Finchem accountable by continuing to “educate constituents” in District 11. 

“So often, these people just go under the radar,” Cani said about Finchem, adding that it’s no longer the case with Finchem who now has gained national notoriety from right-wing media and exposure from big name news outlets like CNN

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.