As a presidential election looms, so does the potential of another insurrection

trump arizona capitol

Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in front of the State Capitol on November 7, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. News outlets project that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after a victory in Pennsylvania with Kamala Harris to be the first woman to be elected Vice President. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By Camaron Stevenson

March 19, 2024

Could Jan. 20 be the new Jan. 6?

Nearly four years after supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to overturn the presidential election results and 30 Arizona lawmakers asked the vice president to reject the will of the voters, Republicans in the state seem poised to install Trump as president—whether he wins the election or not.

During a visit to Tempe on Sunday, US Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, the congressman set out to energize a crowd of voters in the days before the state’s Presidential Preference Election. He spoke candidly about the Jan. 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol, calling the actions of Trump, his supporters, and the Republican Party “hallmarks of a fascist political party.”

“Donald Trump and his cult followers represent a very small percentage of America, but they’re very well organized and totally under Trump’s thumb,” Raskin told The Copper Courier. “What it means is that everybody else needs to get organized under the banner of democracy and freedom.”

Raskin joined a group of Democrats to energize them ahead of Tuesday’s election. Although Biden has secured enough primary victories to earn him the Democratic nomination for president, a strong turnout for Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election will give the Biden campaign an indication as to how much support he’s maintained during his presidency.

Biden will also make an appearance in Arizona, visiting with voters in Maricopa County on Tuesday.

Arizona: the battleground for democracy

Arizona has been in the spotlight of national politics since 2018, as have rising tensions surrounding issues like free and fair elections and political violence. Earlier this year, Republicans attempted—and failed—to prematurely hand the state’s electoral votes to Trump, even if Biden were to win the popular vote. In local county meetings, public officials have had to enforce strict security rules after a meeting was swarmed by far-right agitators who attempted to physically remove the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors from office.

Of the 30 legislators who attempted to overturn Arizona’s election results in 2020, 16 of them still hold office—two of which are under investigation for signing fraudulent documents claiming they were representing the state at the Electoral College.

None have faced consequences for their involvement in attempting to overturn the 2020 election, nor have they said they wouldn’t try again in 2024, should Trump lose in Arizona again. And without consequences—and the promise of a pardon from Trump should he regain control of the White House—they have little reason not to.

“The surest sign of a successful coup coming is a recently failed coup, where the coup plotting forces got to diagram the weaknesses in the current regime,” Raskin said. “And we’ve got Donald Trump out there saying he’s going to pardon all of the insurrectionists. These are people who violently attacked our officers and broke their jaws and their arms and their legs and their noses and their skulls.”

Raskin blamed much of what’s endangered democracy on “impediments” on democratic institutions: fillibusters, that block bills from coming to a vote; gerrymandered districts, which protect extreme politicians from a more moderate voter base; voter suppression, like Republicans’ attempt to end mail-in-voting in Arizona; and packing courts with politically-motivated judges, as has been seen with the US Supreme Court as well as the Arizona Supreme Court.

“What we’re suffering from today is not democracy. It’s the impediments in blockades to democracy,” Raskin said. “We need to go out and give people hope that we can turn things around and move things forward the way that social and political movements of the past have done.”

Looking to the future

But consequences could soon become a reality for Arizona’s election-denying legislators. Attorney General Kris Mayes has been investigating Sens. Anthony Kern, R-Phoenix, and Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, for their roles as fake electors since she took office in 2023. Other states with fake electors have already indicted a number of individuals involved, and while Mayes’ office has offered few updates, grand jury subpoenas were issued this month to a number of people relating to the fake elector plot.

Voters can also offer a referendum on legislators involved this November. Here’s who’s up for reelection:

Coconino County

Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff

Cochise County

Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista

Gila County

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe

Maricopa County

Sen. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix

Rep. Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale

Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa

Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert

Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek

Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Phoenix*

Rep. Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa

Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria

Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert

Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, R-Peoria

Mohave County

Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City

Sen. Sonny Borelli, R-Lake Havasu City

Yavapai County

Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley

* Kern is running for the US House of Representatives, Arizona’s 6th congressional district.

Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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