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GOP lawmaker backs Adrian Fontes over Mark Finchem to lead AZ elections

By: - September 29, 2022 1:11 pm

Secretary of State candidates Mark Finchem, on the left, and Adrian Fontes, on the right, during a debate Thursday night, televised on Arizona PBS. Screenshot via Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission/Arizona PBS

A GOP legislator on Thursday endorsed Adrian Fontes, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state, over a member of his own caucus who has built his campaign on false and evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump. 

“Most people are closer to the middle than they are to the extremes,” Republican state Rep. Joel John said in an interview with the Arizona Mirror. “The extremes on either end are the minority, and it is time for people to focus on policy and what is best for the state instead of on party power or political power.”


In a statement released by Fontes’ campaign, John said he was endorsing Fontes over the GOP nominee, state Rep. Mark Finchem. He said that Finchem’s desire to end mail in voting and Finchem’s desire to overturn the results of the 2020 election were disqualifying. 

While speaking with the Mirror, John also cited Finchem’s attendance on January 6 as a point of concern. 

“It is, frankly, frightening having someone like that be a heartbeat away from the 9th Floor,” John said, referring to the physical location of the Governor’s Office at the state Capitol. In Arizona, the secretary of state is the first in line to be governor. 

Earlier this year, Finchem was the sponsor of legislation that sought to decertify the 2020 election in Arizona’s three largest counties, a move that John said was “wildly unconstitutional.”

John joins a broader coalition of prominent Republicans and independents backing Fontes, including former lawmakers, consultants, mayors and more. 

Some on the list have already been censured by members of their party for their endorsements. For instance, Mesa Mayor John Giles, whose backing of prominent Democrats — he’s also endorsing U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly and is featured in one of the senator’s campaign ads — has prompted Republicans in his local legislative district to ask GOP voters to “cease recognition” of him as a Republican and reject him in future elections. 

“Do I fear a censure? No. It is just a censure, and it is only meaningful to the most active members of the party,” John said. “As a future regular member of society again, I’m just concerned with the process, the rules and procedures and the constitution and maintaining our government.”

John was defeated in this year’s primary election by Rep. Tim Dunn and Michael Carbone. 

Fontes’ coalition of Republican and independent endorsers includes: former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, Former State Rep Heather Carter, Former State Rep. Deb Gullett, Former State Rep. Roberta Voss, Former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano, Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, Mesa Mayor John Giles, David Adame, Carlos Alfaro, Ruben Alvarez, Auggie Bartning, Nathan Brown, Cassidy Campana, former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton, Jonathan Gelbart, Adam Goodman, John Graham, Wes Gullett, Jack Lunsford, Danny Mazza, Pat McGroder, Tommy McKone, Juan Mojica, Matt Morales, Bettina Nava, David Ralls, Clint Smith, Alec Thomson and Brad Wright. 


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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.