Trump-endorsed candidate spurns general election pivot in Arizona AG race
Abe Hamadeh has eschewed the center and stuck to the Right since winning the Republican nomination in his bid to be elected Arizona attorney general, a critical post in a key swing state.
Whereas Blake Masters, the Republican nominee for Senate in Arizona, attempted to moderate his position on abortion after the Aug. 2 primary, the 31-year-old Hamadeh still vows, according to his campaign website, to oppose the procedure “beginning at conception.” And in an interview with the Washington Examiner just before Labor Day, Hamadeh, endorsed by Donald Trump, declined to downplay the former president’s unsupported claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
“The 2020 election was definitely rigged,” Hamadeh said. “We no longer have confidence in our electoral process, and I think it’s damaging to our country.” Hamadeh referred to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saying the social media giant suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story following FBI warnings of “Russian propaganda,” plus a federal judge’s extension of voter registration in Arizona in 2020, a decision later overruled by the liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I have a personal story,” Hamadeh added. He voted military absentee in 2020 because he was deployed overseas as a part of his service in the Army Reserve. Yet when Hamadeh returned home to Arizona, he explained, “I had multiple mail-in ballots in my house from the 2020 election. That’s what we’re talking about — that there was rigging in that election.”
While some instances of fraud were discovered in 2020, none uncovered rose to the level such that it might have altered the outcome of the election.
Hamadeh is running against Kris Mayes, a Democrat with an impressive, albeit conventional, resume. Mayes is a former Arizona Republic reporter (and former Republican) who covered Sen. John McCain’s 2000 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination for the newspaper and later entered politics as a spokeswoman for then-Gov. Janet Napolitano (D). Afterward, Mayes served seven years on the Arizona Corporation Commission and has since worked as a law professor.
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Hamadeh’s story is compelling. He is a first-generation American born of Syrian immigrants who serves in the Army as a reserve intelligence officer and, in that capacity, was recently stationed in Saudi Arabia. Hamadeh is a prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona’s key battleground, and if elected state attorney general this fall, he will be the youngest to hold the office since President Bill Clinton was elected Arkansas attorney general in 1976.
“First-generation Americans view the world differently — we have an appreciation of America that’s unlike others who are born here in the United States,” Hamadeh said. “It helps guide my views.”
Once obscure, contests for down-ballot state constitutional offices, such as attorney general and secretary of state, have taken on higher profiles in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. After Trump refused to concede to now-President Joe Biden, he pressured Republicans in states like Arizona to overturn his defeat. As a part of those efforts, Trump asked GOP attorneys general to prosecute election fraud despite a lack of evidence.
In Arizona, where Joe Biden bested Trump by a mere 10,457 votes, the former president’s rhetoric and actions surrounding the last election have cast a spotlight on Hamadeh’s general election battle with Mayes. If the Republican presidential nominee loses another close election in Arizona in 2024, the slate of Trump-endorsed candidates leading the state’s GOP ticket this fall, including Hamadeh and gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, would be positioned to attempt to overturn the results.
Two years ago, Trump made such requests of outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey and other top Arizona Republicans. They refused.
Hamadeh continues to embrace Trump and promises to “prosecute all election fraud and make sure that future elections are secure.” He warns against “cancel culture,” lamenting that “the radical Left has taken over every aspect of our lives,” and says of Democrats: “They are so prideful to raise the [Black Lives Matter] flag but not the American flag.” It’s not hard to see why Trump, and grassroots Republicans, find Hamadeh appealing.
But Hamadeh is going to need more than Republican voters to win in November.
To that end, his campaign is largely about issues that could resonate with Arizona voters, such as cracking down on rising crime and increasing border security. Both fall within the purview of the state attorney general and consistently rank among voters’ top five priorities, behind taming skyrocketing inflation and improving the economy.
“I no longer see what’s going on at the border as an immigration issue; I see it as a state sovereignty issue. When you have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across our southern border, it’s incumbent upon Arizona to take matters into our own hands,” Hamadeh said. “We no longer can rely on the federal government as a partner. Ensuring that Arizona is safe and free is one of the first steps to save our country.”
Hamadeh praised Ducey for finishing segments of the border wall with shipping containers and other material. He said more needs to be done. If elected, he would seek to classify foreign drug cartels as terrorist organizations, which would expand the range of options he would have to fight crime as the state’s top prosecutor. (Hamadeh said that under current Arizona law, the state adopts whatever designation is rendered by the State Department.)
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Meanwhile, Hamadeh signaled he would use the office of attorney general to block any attempt to shut down businesses, churches, and schools in response to a deadly pandemic. And Hamadeh is prepared to be an active litigator in the federal courts pushing back against the Biden administration’s executive actions. Given the president’s low job approval ratings, that plank of Hamadeh’s campaign is unlikely to be received negatively by Arizona voters.
“In Arizona, with Blake Masters, Kari Lake, myself, I think we’re going to be a beacon of hope and a model for the rest of the nation once we have good governance right here in Arizona,” Hamadeh said. “It’s going to be a good year for us. If you’re looking at crime and the border, these are issues that the Republicans are owning because of the mess that the Democrats have caused us.”