Mark Lamb, the sheriff of Arizona’s Pinal County and a right-wing activist, has officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate.
Right Wing Watch reported in February that Lamb told activists at a pro-gun rally that he was seriously considering a run for the Arizona Senate seat that will be on the ballot in 2024. He filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Monday, the Washington Post reported. Among Lamb’s potential Republican primary opponents for the seat now held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are last year’s failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and failed Senate candidate Blake Masters.
“We need leaders in this country that aren’t too politically correct to protect us,” Lamb says in a campaign video released Tuesday in which he vows to “stand up to the woke left.” The video focuses on border security, with Lamb saying, “It’s time to declare the drug cartels terrorist organizations and use military force to wipe them out just like we did to ISIS.”
Lamb built a fan base as a reality TV personality and has taken hard-right positions on immigration, COVID-19 vaccines, and public health measures, while promoting bogus stolen election claims and QAnon conspiracy theories. At a 2021 anti-vaccine rally, he told supporters, “We’re going to find out what kind of patriots you are. We’re going to find out who is willing to die for freedom.”
Lamb has also trafficked in far-right smears against drag performers, saying on a far-right streaming show in January that drag shows are “designed to break the moral compass that exists in each and every one of us” to make it easier “for them to really push that evil and corrupt agenda.” Media Matters noted this week that Lamb appeared on the viciously antisemitic TruNews network in 2021.
A month after supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Lamb started a “law and order” group called Protect America Now, whose website claims, “We support Sheriffs and law enforcement members that believe in God, Family and Freedom.” The group asks for a monthly donation of $17.76 to “help us win this battle for the soul of America.”
That figure, of course, is not random. The date of the American colonists’ Declaration of Independence became a chant and veiled threat of “revolution” used by so-called “Stop the Steal” activists trying to keep Trump in power after his defeat. Lamb had kind words for the angry Trump supporters who descended on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. “I don’t know how loud we have to get before they have to listen to us and know we will no longer tolerate them stripping our freedoms away,” Lamb said, calling the insurrectionists “very loving, Christian people” who “just happen to support President Trump a lot.”
In 2022, Lamb and his group entered into a partnership with True the Vote, a so-called “election integrity” group that promotes false claims about election fraud and whose bogus claims provided the fuel for propagandist Dinesh D’Souza’s widely debunked “2000 Mules” film. “We’re gonna make sure that we have election integrity this year,” Lamb said at a Trump rally last July, “We will not let happen what happened in 2020.” Lamb has apparently toned down his stolen election rhetoric this year, telling a local Fox affiliate last month, “I’ve never been provided any evidence of significant material fraud.”
Lamb is also an admirer of so-called “constitutional sheriff” Richard Mack and his Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which teaches sheriffs and other local law enforcement officials a far-right interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Last year, Lamb appeared in a TV ad for Arizona Senate candidate Jim Lamon in which Lamon was portrayed as a lawman in an “old West”-style shootout with Sen. Mark Kelly, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and President Joe Biden. Lamon was defeated in the Republican primary.
Lamb and his sheriff department were highlighted in a 2021 American Civil Liberties Union report, which called on the U.S. Justice Department to end its 287(g) agreements with a number of sheriff departments, including Pinal County. These agreements allow the departments like Lamb’s to jail noncitizens with pending criminal charges and to serve and execute warrants on noncitizens held in jail. The report cited a history of racial profiling and other civil rights violations at the department, including some during Lamb’s tenure.
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