‘College-educated voters just don’t like MAGA’: Conservatives slam Arizona election deniers for GOP losses

Before it evolved into a swing state, Arizona was a deep red state closely identified with the conservatism of Senator Barry Goldwater and his successor, Senator John McCain. Goldwater suffered a crushing defeat running against Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, but in Arizona he was revered by conservatives during his years in the U.S. Senate. And despite his reputation for working closely with Senate Democrats on bipartisan bills, McCain did not shy away from being called a “Goldwater Republican” or “Goldwater Conservative.”

But in 2023, Arizona will have a Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, and two Democratic U.S. Senators: Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, who was re-elected in the 2022 midterm elections and successfully defeated far-right MAGA Republican Blake Masters. Kelly will retain the Senate seat once held by Goldwater and later by McCain.

But that’s not to say that Arizona has taken a sharp left turn. Sinema and Kelly are both centrists, and Hobbs narrowly defeated far-right MAGA Republican nominee Kari Lake.

READ MORE: ‘McCain Republicans Vote Too’: Liz Cheney and Meghan McCain relish Kari Lake’s defeat

Lake has yet to give in and vows to challenge the election results in court. Another MAGA election denier, Liz Harris, who was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, vows she will not vote on a single bill unless Arizona officials agree to “call new elections immediately.”

Conservative Washington Post opinion writer Henry Olsen, in his Nov. 22 column, is vehemently critical of Arizona’s election deniers, arguing that their false claims about the 2020 and 2022 elections are becoming increasingly ridiculous.

“The Trumpist belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent has always been rooted in fiction,” explains Olsen. “Now, after the midterm elections, some in Arizona are showing how deep they have ventured into this fantasy world. Arizona is home to many of the most fervent true believers in the election fraud myth.”

Olsen has often been critical of the Biden administration, but he has firmly rejected the big lie. And he believes Arizona Republicans made a huge mistake when they decided in 2022 to “nominate a slew of candidates for statewide office who claimed the election was stolen” from Donald Trump in 2020.

READ MORE: Arizona Republican won’t do her job unless the 2022 election she won is redone: report

“The list was led by former television news anchor Kari Lake, whose steadfast advocacy of the election fraud myth was so pervasive that Donald Trump praised her chutzpah,” notes Olsen. The former president even told Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters to emulate her. “Look at Kari,” he told Masters in a recorded phone call. “When they say ‘how is your family’, she says the election was rigged and stolen.” The fraud team was therefore shocked when most of their candidates were defeated.”

The conservative columnist continues, “Lake, Masters, and Mark Finchem—the Republican nominee for Secretary of State, the agency that oversees the Arizona election—all went down. Meanwhile, Abe Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general, is trailing by several hundred votes in a race likely to be recounted. While Masters has conceded, Lake and Finchem have disputed the results and are pressuring outgoing state attorney general Mark Brnovich — who denied the 2020 fraud claims — to investigate.”

Olsen slams Harris for claiming that the re-election of Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a non-MAGA Republican, is evidence that the 2022 Arizona election was tainted with fraud. Yee, Olsen notes, did not compete as a MAGA election denier and she won.

“You won for the same reason many Republicans have outperformed Trump and his ultra-MAGA acolytes in recent years: She appealed to GOP-leaning, college-educated voters who despise hardcore Trumpism,” argues Olsen. “That’s why Trump lost in 2020; educated suburbs across the country turned on a man they felt was beneath the dignity of office. That is also why Lake and her crew lost.”

Olsen concludes his column by emphasizing that if Republicans in Arizona want to outperform in 2024, they need to stay away from MAGA election deniers and conspiracy theorists.

“Moderate college-educated voters just don’t like MAGA,” Olsen writes. “Republicans can win a national majority, but they can’t if they spread false election narratives and nominate extreme candidates. Arizona has been Ground Zero for the party’s fall into political ruin. Looking to 2024, the race to replace Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema would be a good time for the state’s GOP to repent and receive the voters’ mercy.

READ MORE: Kari Lake was relentlessly mocked for whining on Twitter following Katie Hobbs’ defeat

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