Extremists to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries

Mark Finchem speaks at a “Save America” rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

From Arizona to Washington state, far-right candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for office and will find out if their dedication to the Big Lie, racist fearmongering, or Christian nationalism will reward them at the polls today. Here are some of the candidates and races Right Wing Watch is monitoring this primary day.

Arizona

Former TV anchor and stolen-election conspiracy theorist Kari Lake is running for governor in Arizona. Lake has built her campaign around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen; she said that she would not have certified her state’s results, claimed that Joe Biden did not win the presidential election, and called for the imprisonment of top 2020 election officials and journalists, according to reporting from the Guardian. Lake has also called for Arizona to halt the use of electronic voting machines and to eliminate the option of vote by mail. In a sign of what’s to come should she be elected, Lake claims that her campaign is already “detecting fraud” in her race for governor and has vowed not to “take orders” from “an illegitimate president like Joe Biden.”

Oath Keepers member and Arizona state Sen. Mark Finchem leads his opponents in the Republican primary for secretary of state. Finchem’s stolen-election conspiracy theories and efforts to support Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in overturning the will of Arizonans during the 2020 presidential election won him an endorsement from former President Donald Trump last fall. Finchem also attended Trump’s Jan. 6 rally and watched from the U.S. Capitol grounds as Trump loyalists stormed the building. His communications with organizers of the so-called “Stop the Steal” campaign landed him with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Eleven members of the anti-government extremist Oath Keepers group have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the insurrection.

Kari Lake and Blake Masters speak with attendees at a “Save America” rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Blake Masters is a venture capitalist running for U.S. Senate in Arizona with the backing of Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech mogul who doesn’t believe democracy and freedom are compatible. A libertarian turned “America First” candidate, Masters has come out in favor of a federal personhood law, declared critical race theory “anti-white racism,” blamed gun violence on Black people, suggested Jan. 6 was a “false flag” operation by the FBI, and said that Trump won the presidency. In college, Masters once argued that voting is usually immoral because it leads to others being forced to pay taxes, according to reporting by Mother Jones. More recently, Masters has repeatedly perpetuated a version of the racist “great replacement theory” popularized by Tucker Carlson, alleging that Democrats are trying to bring in illegal immigrants to replace native-born voters. As Mother Jones reported earlier this summer, white nationalists have taken note of Masters’ campaign: ​​

VDare, a white nationalist site named after the first English child born in the Americas, has called Masters “the America First contender” in Arizona. Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, is another fan, although Masters has rejected his support.

Robert Wallace on the white nationalist “Counter Currents” podcast has also said candidates like Masters “repurpose our talking points.”

Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers speaks to attendees at a “Save America” rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Trump-endorsed Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers faces off against state Sen. Kelly Townsend to represent the newly created District 7 in the Arizona state Senate. Rogers is best known for becoming a darling of white nationalist Nick Fuentes and his America First movement. In a video address to the America First Political Action Conference this past February, Rogers called for “more gallows” to be built to “make an example of these traitors who’ve betrayed our country” and applauded Fuentes and the far-right attendees of America First. In a campaign video, she said she was peddling conspiracy theories to move the window of acceptable discourse further to the right. The 68-year-old grandmother is also a member of the Oath Keepers. Rogers has raised millions of dollars peddling the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Both Rogers and Finchem have touted their endorsements from Andrew Torba, the antisemitic Christian nationalist founder of Gab.

Michigan 

Former community college professor Kristina Karamo stepped into the limelight when she began pushing stolen-election conspiracy theories after Election Day in 2020, alleging on Fox News that illegal ballots were supposedly being tallied for Joe Biden. Now, Karamo is running to be in charge of Michigan’s elections, and her bid for secretary of state has the endorsements of both Trump and the Michigan Republican Party. Beyond her stolen-election conspiracy theories, Karamo has also baselessly claimed that anti-fascist activists are to blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, said that evolution should not be taught in schools, and said that the LGBTQ movement is part of “Satan’s war against humans.”

Mark and Patricia McCloskey spoke on the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Missouri

The extremism on display in Missouri’s race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate can be measured by two points: all three of the leading candidates have endorsed Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election, and all have promised not to support Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader if Republicans get a majority.

Eric Greitens’ mug shot, taken in 2018. The former Missouri governor was indicted, then arrested after he threatened to release a nude photo of a woman if she shared exposed their affair.

Eric Greitens claims to be “the only America First candidate” in the race. The former governor, who resigned during a sex scandal and has more recently faced domestic violence allegations, has been slammed for a campaign ad showing him armed and breaking into a house with a SWAT team intending to use his “RINO hunting permit.” Greitens has support from Trumpworld insiders like Rudy Giuliani and Sebastian Gorka; Kimberly Guilfoyle is a co-chair of Greiten’s campaign.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler has chaired the religious-right Values Action Team in the U.S. House, where she has continued her long record of opposing LGBTQ equality and has supported efforts to undermine separation of church and state. She’s backed by the political arm of the Family Research Council, whose leaders backed Trump’s effort to stay in power after losing the election.

State Attorney General Eric Schmitt, whose ads feature Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and highlight Schmitt’s participation in lawsuits challenging 2020 election results as part of Trump supporters’ campaign to keep him in power, has been endorsed by far right-wing Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

Also in the race is Mark McCloskey, the wealthy attorney who became a far-right folk hero when he and his wife aimed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their house.

On the eve of today’s primary, Trump released a statement with his endorsement of “ERIC,” causing much confusion among the three Erics in the race. Both Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt thanked him for his endorsement of their first names.

Washington

Two Trump-endorsed candidates, Joe Kent and Loren Culp, are challenging Republican incumbents Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, who both voted to impeach Trump, in the state’s top-two, all-party primary.

Kent, who is running in Washington state’s 3rd Congressional District, claims the 2020 election was rigged and blames the Jan. 6 insurrection on “Deep State” provocateurs. The Associated Press recently reported that Kent “stands out for the breadth of his ties to a deep-seated extremist fringe that has long existed in the Pacific Northwest.” Kent has connections to the Oath Keepers and white nationalist Nick Fuentes’s America First movement, though Kent has publicly distanced himself from Fuentes and drawn the movement’s ire. Kent has called jailed Jan. 6 insurrectionists “political prisoners.” Culp has said that Biden should be removed from the presidency if an “audit” he supports determines that the election was fraudulent as he suspects. Kent and Culp are both reportedly being backed by far-right billionaire Peter Thiel.

Author, podcaster, and congressional candidate Heidi St. John is running to represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. (Photo from campaign website)

Also running to represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District is Heidi St. John. The Christian nationalist home-schooling advocate, author, and podcaster has denounced public libraries as “evil organizations” and made Seven Mountains Dominionism and Christian nationalist themes central to her campaign. St. John has described politics as “a spiritual battle” and vowed to “bring back the name of God into the political sphere.” She cites religious-right activists Mike Faris of Alliance Defending Freedom, Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Hills, and Roby McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel as individuals whose example she would like to follow.

Kansas

Donald Trump has given GOP governor hopeful Derek Schmidt his “Complete and Total Endorsement.” As the state’s attorney general, Schmidt joined efforts to help Trump overturn his defeat in battleground states.

Kansas voters will also decide via referendum whether the state’s constitution protects access to abortion.