It looks like Arizona’s big races are pretty much decided. The presidential race was called for Biden. Mark Kelly will be the newest U.S. Senator in Arizona. But what happened in some of the other races you might have heard less about? These have candidates who got coverage for something noteworthy or scandalous — QAnon signaling, a racist text, running a teen misinformation ring — and then may have slipped off your radar. We followed up with eight of the candidates we wrote about this year, and one we didn’t. Here’s what we found:
You might remember Jake Hoffman for his pearly smile, or for the time his digital marketing company Rally Forge formed a Russian-style disinformation cell of local teens in an attempt to undermine election results in support of President Donald Trump.
Hoffman’s hijinks don’t stop there. A Stanford report found that the Queen Creek councilmember’s company had established dozens of fake social media accounts in support of conservative political causes. These activities led Facebook to ban Hoffman’s company and personal accounts.
Despite these shady revelations, Hoffman seemed likely to enter the Arizona Legislature by default after finishing in the top two positions in the District 12 Republican primary, and local Democrats didn’t run an opposition candidate. In a last ditch effort to stop Hoffman, county-administrator-turned-full-time-mom Kristin Clark mounted a write-in campaign in September.
The effort does not appear to have succeeded. Clark currently only has 7,128 write-ins to Hoffman’s 85,000 votes and the disinformation boss seems set to sail into the State Legislature.
Hoffman did not respond to a phone call or email from Phoenix New Times, as is his custom, but Clark said she felt good about the results.
“That’s 7,000 people who were motivated enough to write in a name,” she said. “…I think we did well for a 43-day campaign.”
Clark said she and some other locals are forming a group to hold elected officials responsible for misinformation.
“People need to be made aware elected officials are deliberately lying to them,” she said.
One current legislator is not doing so well in election results. Last year, Phoenix New Times reported that state Representative Anthony Kern, who represents parts of Glendale and northwest Phoenix, had tried to make it easier to remove law enforcement officers from the “Brady list” of officers with honesty issues — a list he was a member of.
Later that year, Kern also suggested to a group of conservative activists that under Democrats, “LGBTQ rights” could “take over.” Most recently, he was seen giving a speech to conspiracy-driven Trump supporters assembled outside the Maricopa County Elections department.
State Representative Anthony Kern @anthonykernAZ is here now speaking. “Whatever you are, have a spine and stick together. I can tell you one thing God hates: The shedding of innocent blood, like that of innocent babies. Thank god Trump is here for such a time as this.” pic.twitter.com/FYzcQN1lT7
— Jamie Landers (@jamielandersx) November 6, 2020
One person who will likely not be taking over appears to be Kern. He’s currently trailing in the three-way election for the two seats in Legislative District 20 and appears unlikely to be able to make up the difference.
Kern did not respond to a call or email Friday.
Judy Schwiebert, a retired teacher of 27 years who’s currently leading in the race, said she got involved after becoming aware of the statewide teacher shortage.
“[Kern] just never had time to meet with me and, to make a long story short, here I am,” she said.
Schwiebert was boosted by state and national cash as Democrats targeted her district, including over $200,000 in independent spending that focused on attacking Kern.
She says that Kern’s scandals probably helped her, acknowledging that independent groups worked to make sure people knew about them and his legislative record. But she also credits her deep connections to the district she’s lived in almost her entire life for her victory. Schwiebert said she’s looking forward to meeting with other legislators focused on education and ensuring schools have the funding they need to deal with the pandemic.
The Q Brigade
Several Arizona legislative candidates have either explicitly or implicitly endorsed the right-wing conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
In July, state Senator Vince Leach shared a Fourth of July cartoon on social media that depicted a figure labeled as Q marching with President Donald Trump and about to crush figures labeled as “Globalists,” “Marxists,” and Traitors.”
Justine Wadsack, a Republican running for state Senate in Tucson repeatedly used a QAnon-affiliated hashtag on social media. Another Republican candidate for state Senate, Suzanne Sharer, shared a QAnon message on Facebook.
Leach’s dalliance with QAnon did not appear to hurt him. He’s on track to reelection with 53 percent of the vote in the most recent update.
Meanwhile, Wadsack is losing heavily with only around 40 percent of votes, as is Sharer.
When reached by New Times on Friday, Wadsack said the fact that QAnon was all we were asking about shows our paper’s corruption.
“I’ve already denounced QAnon 150 times online” and in New Times, she said. While Wadsack told New Times in August that she was not a supporter of QAnon, she did say she was intrigued by it and keeping an open mind.
When asked about her posts that used the QAnon hashtag by Yellow Sheet Report, Wadsack said reporters should instead look at how Black Lives Matter and “antifa” were indoctrinating students in public schools.
Wadsack closed by saying that she hopes the media falls apart after the election, if this is all we’re interested in.
Leach and Sharer did not respond to a voicemail or an email.
Michael Irish, left, stands with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Screenshot via Facebook
Despite his campaign’s focus on St. Patrick’s Day-style marketing, a candidate for the Justice of the Peace in the Moon Valley precinct in north Phoenix does not appear to have the luck of the Irish.
After New Times published a text message showing Irish using the n-word to refer to sports players protesting in favor of Black Lives Matters, Michael Irish lost endorsement after endorsement. Undeterred, he replaced the endorsements section of his website with an out-of-context quote from the New Times article that made it look like he had many endorsements.
Voters were not fooled and, despite living in a heavily Republican area, Irish is losing to his Democratic opponent 54 percent to 46 percent.
Reached by New Times, Irish simply said “not interested” and then hung up.
Shelli Boggs told the Arizona Republic that she decided to run for the board that oversees Maricopa Community Colleges after hearing about a professor who allegedly received death threats for teaching material that condemned Islam. She said she wanted to remove politics from the classroom.
Politics caught up with Boggs in the form of a faculty-union-funded mailer that exposed how she had once been alleged to have bullied students as a cosmetology instructor at the East Valley Institute of Technology and photo of her posing with an assault-style rifle meant to be given as a present to President Donald Trump.
Boggs told the Republic that the allegations were retaliation by the institute’s school board, and the photo with the AR-15 was taken at an event for Republican women.
In the end, incumbent Linda Thor appears to have easily cruised to victory with 64 percent of counted votes.
Boggs told New Times that “it is what it is.”
“I knew from the start, people paying attention are either good with the way education is going or not,” she said, adding that she was more in-touch than her opponent because she’d worked with kids more recently.
Boggs initially said she didn’t think the mailer hurt her, but added that the information was false and there was no way for her to reach everyone that the mailer did.
“I just think education’s so left-side political that I don’t know how we’ll get down the middle,” she said.
Scottsdale Councilmember Guy Phillips drew condemnation from pretty much everyone this summer when he mocked George Floyd’s final words at an anti-mask rally, declaring “I can’t breathe” before removing his mask.
Phillips rejected the wide-ranging calls for his resignation, telling the Arizona Republic that would erode the right to “public speech.”
Voters appear to have made that decision for him. Phillips is coming in fifth in Scottsdale’s top-three city council election, trailing the nearest candidate by 4 percent.
Joshua “Crisco Kidd” Carmona
“Crisco Kidd” Joshua Carmona quit his job as a local radio host to run for mayor of Phoenix.
Courtesy of the Carmona Campaign
This summer, Carmona quit his job as a radio DJ to launch a long-shot, last-minute write-in campaign for Phoenix mayor, following difficulties he had scheduling a meeting with current mayor Kate Gallego and a general desire to get more involved politically.
Unlike many of the candidates on this list, Joshua Carmona didn’t do anything scandalous — as far as we’re aware of. A promoter he hired to do publicity for his campaign launch did try and strong-arm us into doing an article on him, but Carmona vigorously denied any knowledge of that.
As of early this morning he had accumulated 528 write-ins to Gallego’s 329,000 votes.
Carmona told New Times that he was trying to find out about the additional 1,000 write-in ballots that were listed as “not qualified,” but he congratulated Gallego on her victory. He got his job back at the radio station and will be back on air today at 3 p.m. He’ll be releasing a full statement on air at 3:30 p.m., he said.
“And it’s all positive vibes over here,” he said. “Nothing negative.”
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