By Corinne Murdock |
The state of our republic is the foremost concern for Abe Hamadeh. Arizona is in a position to define it, specifically based on the outcome of Hamadeh’s election challenge.
“The idea of America, whether we are a nation that is ruled and governed by ‘we the people’ is threatened,” said Hamadeh in an interview with AZ Free News. “It’s the idea that Americans have lost faith in the idea that our elections are fair and honest. Once you lose confidence in that, you lose confidence in other aspects of America — like the rule of law.”
Hamadeh said that the recently released Durham report epitomized these concerns. The Department of Justice’s 306-page findings on the weaponization of the federal government against former President Donald Trump shined a clear light on the current nature of government and media, and the vital importance of an honest judiciary to hold them accountable.
“I sit back, and in its plainest terms: it was an attempted coup on President Trump. How there’s no accountability for that, how Hillary can collude with Russia to create a fake dossier, and this is what Durham has reported. That’s frightening,” said Hamadeh. “I recognize the power of the media, and it’s something I never thought I had a good grasp on. I thought they were generally biased but trying to be factual. But now I’ve discovered that the fourth estate has been totally corrupted, and there’s nobody holding the government accountable. The only thing we’ve got left to hold it accountable is the independent judiciary, which has been threatened by the left.”
It’s his deep concern for the direction of our nation, starting with the state of our elections, that affords him the boundless energy to continue his challenge of the 2022 attorney general election. Hamadeh engaged in oral arguments last week to argue for a new trial, based on the evidence they’ve found of disenfranchised voters.
“I think it goes much deeper than me winning. I’m fighting because I’m fighting for the truth, the people’s voice, and their votes to be honored. I think that’s a noble cause. Whether we succeed or fail, the government’s incompetence, the media’s hypocrisy, and the truth. And the truth is I won,” said Hamadeh. “How can we survive as a country when we no longer have faith in our elections or rule of law? What is the government at this point?”
Mayes was declared the winner initially with a 511-vote lead. The recount slashed that lead to 280. Yet, there are thousands of provisional votes — over 9,000, an increase from the estimated 8,000 reported in April — that weren’t included in the final count. About 70 percent of Election Day voters were for Hamadeh. Hamadeh said these additional provisional votes took as long as they did to discover because of the delay in response from the counties.
“We have to get information from 15 different government agencies, and it’s complicated,” said Hamadeh. “I wish we had access to the information that the government has. That’s why we’re asking for a new trial.”
“Statutes don’t trump the Arizona Constitution.”
Arguments from his opponents — Attorney General Kris Mayes and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes — focused mainly on how much time has passed since the election, the recount, and Mayes taking office. Hamadeh said that didn’t matter, asserting that Hunt v. Campbell ruled that the Arizona Constitution made immutably clear that the person with the most votes is deemed the legitimate officeholder.
“Even with a recount provision, even with a statutory timeline, none of that trumps the Arizona Constitution. All that allows is a statutory tool to make a process to determine who has the most votes and who is the legitimate officeholder,” said Hamadeh.
Hunt v. Campbell concerned the last major election challenge in a close race: over 100 years ago, in the 1916 gubernatorial election. Mayes’ counsel argued that the precedent was inapplicable since the ruling came before statutory timelines for elections were established. However, the judge rebutted in closing that there was a recount provision in place at the time of the Hunt v. Campbell decision.
Of all that the attorney general’s counsel did argue, they never claimed that Mayes obtained the most votes. Hamadeh’s team presented evidence of existing votes not counted, claims which went uncontested by the opposition. When given their turn to speak, Maricopa County didn’t offer any arguments of their own.
Based on what he’d witnessed, Hamadeh said he didn’t believe Mayes’ team came prepared. He believed it evinced a troubling, baseless confidence that the case was over before it had even begun, speculating that the consistency of favorable media coverage played a role as well.
“I think they were trying to treat our case the same as that of Mark Finchem or Kari Lake, or some of these cases with a larger margin,” said Hamadeh. “When they control the media and the government, they feel really emboldened to – it’s almost this hubris where they don’t think this judge will do something.”
Before Hamadeh had the complete voter data handed over from the counties to argue his case fully, The Washington Post editorial board wrote in a post-New Year’s piece that his defeat symbolized an end to election denialism.
“It brings me a lot of joy when we keep discovering the truth.”
Hamadeh pointed out that the media has trotted out the phrase “count all the votes” on repeat since 2020 — which he says is exactly what his case is all about. I’m fighting for the truth. I’m actually scared that these people are running our government and controlling our media.
“The government hasn’t counted all legitimate ballots,” said Hamadeh. “The media always argues, you have to count every single vote. I intend to show their hypocrisy. I have a lot of fun. I’m basically doing what I said I was doing as attorney general, which is exposing corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy for the truth. I’m enjoying it.”
Hamadeh shared that he asked a group of about 100 attendees at a recent Republican Federation for Women event how many of them knew of someone who had lost faith in their elections and would no longer vote because of what happened last November. According to Hamadeh, every single hand went up.
“It breaks my heart that they’ve lost faith and confidence, and their solution — it’s not a solution — is ‘why vote?’”
Hamadeh claims that the 280 margin isn’t that unreasonable to question considering the myriad hiccups throughout last year’s election season. Last October, Gov. Katie Hobbs in her former capacity as secretary of state revealed that there were 6,000 Arizonans mistakenly registered as federal-only voters.
“This is 280 votes, and the government has already admitted to making these big mistakes,” said Hamadeh. “Why would Katie Hobbs not have done the right thing by telling the court and us if they didn’t have anything to gain?”
Hobbs neglected to disclose the undervotes in the attorney general race until after the December hearing. She claimed that the Maricopa County Superior Court order to prevent disclosure of the recount results prevented her from disclosing the undervotes, but Hamadeh said that wasn’t the case.
“Their actions speak louder than anything I have to say,” said Hamadeh. “We were in court arguing about undervote issues, and they [Hobbs’ team] didn’t say anything. They should not be the ones that take a side in an election contest. They should be the ones doing their jobs as government officials.”
“I wish Republicans had as much a desire to save the country as Democrats have in destroying it.”
Hamadeh said that losing this case would close the door to challenging elections in the future.
“If we don’t prevail, the idea that you can’t question elections and election officials and the government itself regarding elections, is going to only get worse,” said Hamadeh. “My family came from Syria. I know from their experience what it’s like to not live in a democracy, to not be able to question your government. That’s exactly what the media, ironically, and the Democrats are leading us to right now.”
Hamadeh characterized his fight as a natural extension of a uniquely American duty: to serve as a check and balance on the government by questioning it.
“It’s not only our right to question the government, it’s also our duty. Especially when there are this many errors, this much incompetence regarding our elections,” said Hamadeh. “I’m fighting because I think questioning our government is the foundation of what being an American is; if we lose that, we basically lose our country.”
After last week’s oral arguments concluded, Mayes issued a fundraising email asking for campaign and legal fund donations.
“With regard to the never-ending lawsuit… it was more ‘we think’ drama, without factual evidence,” wrote Mayes.
Hamadeh says he hasn’t issued any similar fundraising emails.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.