Attorney General Mark Brnovich signaled his disapproval of the election during the statewide canvass certifying the results on Monday.
Brnovich indicated his displeasure with the events of the last month after Secretary of State and governor-elect Katie Hobbs lectured Arizonans that they must combat election misinformation, conspiracies, and critics. The attorney general paraphrased a quote seemingly directed at Hobbs.
“I should note: I didn’t know we were giving speeches today, but the governor and I pursuant to statute are merely witnesses to the certification,” stated Brnovich. “I’m reminded of what John F. Kennedy said: ‘Those who ride the tiger to seek power often end up inside.’”
The quote Brnovich paraphrased came from Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. The former president meant it as a metaphor: people who support communist countries in the hopes of benefitting will only be overtaken by them in the end.
“To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny,” stated Kennedy. “We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”
Following the certification, Brnovich released a statement clarifying that his presence at the certification wasn’t a signal of support for the election administration. Brnovich shared that he would continue to scrutinize the election if necessary through the end of his term.
“As we gather today to solidify the 2022 midterm election results, many Arizonans of all political persuasions continue to have doubts about our election processes,” said Brnovich. “As attorney general, I have made it one of my office’s highest priorities to defend our election laws and advocate for changes when necessary. I will continue to do so throughout the end of my term.”
Brnovich’s spokeswoman, Katie Conner, stated that people could draw their own conclusions as to what Brnovich meant when paraphrasing Kennedy.
Watch the certification on the secretary of state’s website or below:
On Monday, the remaining outstanding ballots were counted, totaling nearly 2.6 million votes cast. Next Monday is the deadline for counties to canvass and submit results to the secretary of state’s office.
An automatic recount will occur for the attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, and state representative for District 13 races. The recount will begin after the state certifies the election on December 5.
In the attorney general race, Kris Mayes (D) led by 510 votes over Abraham Hamadeh (R) — a .02 percent difference, well within the .5 percent required. Both Mayes and Hamadeh expressed confidence that the recount would pan out in their favor.
Hamadeh pinpointed Maricopa County’s Election Day issues as the reason for his belief that the vote counts would flip in his favor.
In the superintendent’s race, Tom Horne (R) overcame incumbent Kathy Hoffman (D) narrowly with 50 to 49 percent of the vote, or 8,968 votes. That’s a margin of nearly .36 percent, which triggers the automatic recount. Hoffman conceded the race last week.
In the District 13 race, State Representative Jennifer Pawlik (D) is likely to secure one of the seats with 35 percent of the vote, compared to the other two contenders’ respective 32 percent. The automatic recount will likely determine which of the two Republican candidates, Liz Harris or Julie Willoughby, will earn the second seat. Harris leads by 270 votes: nearly .31 percent.
A recount doesn’t look to be in the cards for the much-contested governor’s race. Katie Hobbs (D) ended with a lead of 17,116 over Kari Lake (R): an advantage of nearly .67 percent. That’s outside the margin needed for an automatic recount.
Lake is fundraising currently to file a lawsuit. She has refused to concede the race, citing Maricopa County’s Election Day issues such as faulty ballot printer settings resulting in widespread tabulator failures. The attorney general’s office is probing the county’s conduct for potential violation of state law.
In the secretary of state race, Adrian Fontes (D) secured 52 percent of the vote compared to Mark Finchem (R): a margin of 120,207 votes. Incumbent Kimberly Yee (R) fended her seat as state treasurer with nearly 56 percent of the vote over Martín Quezada (D): a margin of 283,099 votes.
Paul Marsh (R) ran uncontested as state mine inspector. Kevin Thompson (R) and Nicholas Myers (R) were elected to the two corporation commissioner seats, ousting incumbent Sandra Kennedy (D) and Lauren Kuby (D).
At the federal level, incumbent Senator Mark Kelly (D) beat Blake Masters (R) by a 125,718 vote margin: 51 to 46 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Representatives David Schweikert (R) and Andy Biggs (R) fended off their respective challenges from Jevin Hodge (D) and Javier Garcia Ramos in the District 1 and 5 races. Schweikert pulled a 3,195 vote lead (50 to 49 percent), while Biggs pulled 62,221 more votes (56 to 37 percent).
Eli Crane (R) pulled off an upset in the District 2 race, earning 25,019 more votes than incumbent Tom O’Halleran (D): nearly 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent.
Democratic incumbent Representatives Ruben Gallego, Greg Stanton, and Raúl Grijalva fended off their respective challenges from Republicans Jeff Nelson Zink, Kelly Cooper, and Luis Pozzolo in the District 3, 4, and 7 races. Gallego led by 76,124 votes (77 to 23 percent), Stanton led by 32,420 votes (56 to 44 percent), and Grijalva led by 56,974 votes (64 to 35 percent).
Juan Ciscomani (R) prevailed over Kirsten Engel (D) in the District 6 race, earning 5,232 more votes: 50 to 49 percent of the vote.
Republican incumbent Representatives Debbie Lesko and Paul Gosar were unchallenged in their District 8 and 9 races.
AZ Free News has confirmed at least two of Arizona’s 15 county recorders did not put forth an “aye” vote when deciding whether to oppose Proposition 309, despite public assertions by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer of a unanimous vote.
Prop 309 would tighten the identification requirements for in-person and early ballot voting. On Sept. 29, the Arizona Association of County Recorders (AACR) conducted a “aye or nay” voice vote on issuing a statement in opposition of what is often referred to as universal voter ID.
Many boards and associations make decisions and take positions on a majority-rule basis, but those votes are not publicized as representing the position of each individual member. There was no role call nor record kept of how any of the county recorders voted, yet Richer, who is AACR’s President, listed the names of all 15 recorders on the anti-Prop 309 statement.
As previously reported by AZ Free News, Cochise County Recorder David Stevens took issue with that, as he was out of the country at the time and had not given his chief deputy recorder authority to vote his proxy. In fact, Stevens is pro-Prop 309.
Public records obtained by AZ Free News also show at least one other recorder reported not expressing any vote on the AACR position but opted to not go public, given that the majority of members did vote “aye.”
AACR met on Sept. 29 and took the voice vote about Prop 309 despite nothing on the agenda indicating a vote would be taken. Then on Oct. 4, Richer used his Maricopa County email account to distribute a draft version of the AACR statement to a handful of members for review.
He also used the Maricopa County website and a staffer’s time on the AACR’s anti-Prop 309 letter.
Richer has acknowledged this was an improper use of public resources to influence a ballot measure, and has expressed hope his mea culpa is sufficient to stave off criminal charges in light of a complaint filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
The AGO has the authority to expand the investigation from Richer’s use of public resources into whether his refusal to correct the record about the AACR vote falls under Arizona’s criminal statutes related to a fraudulent scheme or artifice.
Other public records show the draft version of the anti-Prop 309 statement Richer sent, however, did not include the names of all the county recorders. That feature was added at the suggestion of Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cazares-Kelly.
Richer released a revised draft statement about Prop 309 to the full AACR membership on Oct. 10. The next day, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs received an email from Richer with an advance copy of the statement about 90 minutes before it was released to the public.
Stevens, who did not see the draft, immediately emailed Richer and the other recorders upon learning of the statement’s content. He made clear his position on Prop 309 (he supports it) as well as on the use of his name.
The email also requested Richer “remove my name from this list and issue a retraction immediately.” Richer ignored that request as well as subsequent requests by Stevens.
For now, Stevens is waiting for the outcome of the AGO investigation. There is also a possibility of civil liability under Arizona law for the use of Stevens’ name without his consent.
For the second time this year, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt have authored a “friend-of-the-court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge to the constitutionally of a New York state law which severely restricts who can obtain a concealed carry permit.
On Tuesday, Brnovich, Schmitt, and the attorneys general of 24 other states joined in urging the justices to declare New York’s subjective-issue firearm license process as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The case is New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett.
Forty-two states, including Arizona, have objective-issue systems where a concealed carry permit is issued to an individual who meets a certain set of objective criteria such as a background check, a mental health records review, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws, and firearms training.
However, New Yorkers who want a concealed carry permit must demonstrate to a state worker some type of “special need” for self-protection outside their home that is greater than the average citizen. In effect, the law serves as a de facto ban on most New Yorkers who want to exercise their right to protect themselves when away from home.
The 26 signors of the brief believe they have “a unique perspective that should aid the Court in weighing the value and importance of the rights implicated by the questions presented.” In particular, they cite empirical evidence that legal concealed carry holders are significantly less likely than the general public to commit a crime.
In addition, a 2013 National Research Council study is cited, showing that crime victims who resist with a gun are less likely to suffer serious injury than victims who resist in other ways or who offer no resistance at all.
“Those who obtain firearms-carry permits are, and remain, overwhelmingly more law-abiding than the general population. That conclusion makes perfect sense, as permit holders must typically pass background and other checks prior to being issued a license under state regimes,” the brief argues.
Brnovich issued a statement after the brief was filed Tuesday.
“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation,” Brnovich said, adding he will continue to vigorously protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.
According to the attorney general’s office, Arizona implemented a licensed concealed carry regime in 1994. That year, the state experienced 10.5 murders per 100,000 people compared to the nationwide rate of 9 murders per 100,000.
Then in 2010, Arizona implemented a right-to-carry for all law-abiding citizens, even without a license. By 2016, Arizona’s murder rate was 5.5 per 100,000, even though more guns were being lawfully carried in the state.
Joining Arizona and Missouri are the state attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The July 20 brief follows one filed in February in which the 26 attorneys general argued why the U.S. Supreme Court should take up the case. The Justices announced in April that they will take up the case in its next term which starts Oct. 4, 2021.
The New York case, however, is not the only Second Amendment challenge Brnovich’s office has been involved with this year.
In April, he co-authored an amicus brief signed by nearly the attorneys general from nearly two dozen states urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Second Amendment by declaring California’s law limiting magazine capacities as unconstitutional.
Then in May, Brnovich led another multi-state coalition in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a New Jersey law which limits magazine capacities and requires gun owners to surrender to law enforcement certain magazines which are legal in 43 other states.
And last month, Brnovich led a coalition of 22 states in writing a brief to the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in an effort to strike down a three-decade-old California law that bans popular rifles, even when kept in the home for self-defense.