Last September, Donald Trump released a statement through his Save America website. “It is my great honor to endorse a true warrior,” he proclaimed, “a patriot who has fought for our country, who was willing to say what few others had the courage to say, who has my Complete and Total Endorsement.”
Former US presidents usually reserve their most gushing praise – replete with Capital Letters – for global allies or people they are promoting for high office. A candidate for the US Senate, perhaps, or someone vying to become governor of one of the biggest states.
Trump by contrast was heaping plaudits on an individual running for an elected post that a year ago most people had never heard of, let alone cared about. He was endorsing Mark Finchem, a Republican lawmaker from Tucson, in his bid to become Arizona’s secretary of state.
Until Trump’s endorsement, Finchem, like the relatively obscure position for which he is now standing, was scarcely known outside politically informed Arizona circles. Today he is a celebrity on the “Save America” circuit, one of a coterie of local politicians who have been thrown into the national spotlight by Trump as he lays the foundations for a possible ground attack on democracy in the 2024 presidential election.
The role of secretary of state is critical to the smooth workings and integrity of elections in many states, Arizona included. The post holder is the chief election officer, with powers to certify election results, vet the legal status of candidates and approve infrastructure such as voting machines. [Continue reading…]