Adrian Fontes won the highly contested secretary of state in Arizona


The former Marine beat up Mark Finchem, a former member of the Oath-Keeping militia who was at the Capitol on January 6

The victory of Adrian Fontes, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in Arizona, can be seen as one of the most significant results of the 2022 election in terms of the future of American democracy. Fontes, a former Marine, managed to fend off one of the Republican election's most controversial deniers in a hard-fought and very close fight. His opponent, Mark Finchem, is a state lawmaker who was a member of the right-wing Oath Keeping militia and was present at the US Capitol on the day of the January 6, 2021 uprising.

Finchem has made repeated attempts to overturn Joe Biden's victory in Arizona in the 2020 election, in favor of his idol Donald Trump.

By thwarting Finchem's efforts to secure the position of secretary of state, Fontes has prevented the local and federal election administration in Arizona from falling into the hands of opponents of democratic norms. Had Finchem come out on top, as some polls suggest, he may be in the latter stages of the campaign, he will be positioned to radically change the handling of the Arizona election and could even upend the outcome of the 2024 presidential race.

In an interview with the Guardian just before election day, Fontes said that Finchem's victory would threaten "the fate of the republic, and also the free world if you accept that America is still the leader".

As Arizona's secretary of state, Fontes will now become second in the line of governors. He will be in a powerful position to influence how elections are conducted in the state, including a presidential election in two years time in which Trump has indicated he will seek re-election.

In his bid to voters, Fontes promised that if he won, he would defend voting by mail, a popular way of voting in Arizona that Finchem threatened to limit to no evidence that it was rigged.

Fontes is no stranger to election disputes. In 2020 he was the registrar of Maricopa, Arizona's most populous county, which put him in the center of a storm over the election tally with Republicans demanding a much derided "audit" of the tally. 

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