Former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Daniel McCarthy at a protest outside the Executive Tower in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020. The protesters believe Donald Trump won re-election in 2020 and objected to the state casting its electoral votes for Joe Biden. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
The fledgling Patriot Party skipped an appointment with the Secretary of State’s Office to submit signatures so it can be recognized as an official party, meaning its candidates won’t be on the ballot in the 2022 election cycle, the first since its formation.
According to Murphy Hebert, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Patriot Party Chairman Steve Daniels was scheduled to meet with the office on Friday afternoon, but cancelled the meeting minutes before it was supposed to begin.
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In order to qualify as an official party for purposes of ballot access, a party must collect a minimum number of signatures equal to one-and-one-third percent of the total votes cast for governor in the state’s last gubernatorial election. Based on the vote count from the last governor’s race in 2018, that number is currently set at 31,686.
As part of its efforts to achieve ballot access, Patriot Party figure Daniel McCarthy recorded robocalls that began going out in early November, according to the Yellow Sheet Report, a high-priced subscription-only political insider publication. Jason Tsinnijinnie, a paid petitioner for the campaign, said he was paid $8 per signature. Several people on social media said some petitioners were paid as much as $12 per signature.
Since its inception, the Patriot Party, composed largely of former Republicans and espousing various conservative messages, has been at loggerheads with the Arizona GOP. And McCarthy, who ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2020, was sharply critical of the party in an interview with the Arizona Mirror. But he said the party’s goal in trying to get on the ballot wasn’t to siphon votes away from Republicans. Rather, it was to get access to other aspects of the elections system that is only provided to recognized political parties.
Official political parties can designate observers at polling places and ballot tabulation centers during elections. They participate in logic-and-accuracy testing for ballot tabulation machines before elections, and take part in partial hand counts of ballots after elections. And they recommend lists of people that election officials use to select poll workers, said Megan Gilbertson, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Elections Department.
“I think the confusion with the public is that our desire as a party, it’s purely to have access and supervision of the … ballot process and the voting process, and the mechanics of the voting process,” McCarthy said. “The Patriot Party, obviously our desire is not to split the Republican Party vote. Our desire is purely to work with the county recorders’ offices to be able to have access to the actual ballot process and the voting process.”
McCarthy said the desire for the Patriot Party to participate in the elections process is premised on concerns about election rigging and fraud by the Democratic and Republican parties. He and other Patriot Party figures have long promoted the false and debunked claims of fraud that stemmed from the 2020 presidential election.
Daniels said the Arizona GOP is pushing a “false narrative” that the Patriot Party is trying to split the Republican vote. But that’s not the party’s intent, he said, and as “self-confessed conservatives,” Daniels said it wouldn’t be a wise thing to do.
“Really our main goal is not to have candidates run under the Patriot Party banner, but really to ensure election integrity, amongst other issues. Our mission statement as the Patriot Party of Arizona is to restore and maintain constitutional conservative leadership in Arizona,” Daniels said. “Our main goal is to provide accountability to the Republican Party and push them back in the right direction when we see them not operating as they should be.”
Daniels also said the Patriot Party is exploring whether there are avenues for the party to have observers at the polls and in tabulation rooms at county election centers. Gilbertson said that is only available to officially recognized parties whose members are qualified to appear on the ballot.
The missed meeting on Friday means the Patriot Party will have to wait two years to try again because Friday was the deadline to qualify for ballot access in 2022. State law sets the deadline at 250 days before the primary election, which is on Aug. 2. Only the Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties will qualify for statewide ballot access.
Had the Patriot Party qualified for ballot access, it would have been entitled to appear on the ballot for the next two general elections. After that, a party can maintain its ballot access by getting at least 5% of the vote for governor or president, or by again submitting petitions to qualify.
“We will be an established party in the near future,” Daniels said.
This story has been updated to include comments from Patriot Party Chairman Steve Daniels.
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