TEMPE, Ariz. — Rep. Liz Cheney urged voters to reject Arizona’s Republican nominees for governor and secretary of state in next month's midterm election, casting them as existential threats to U.S. democracy.
“If you care about democracy and you care about the survival of our republic, then you need to understand — we all have to understand — that we cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections,” Cheney, R-Wyo., said Wednesday night at an event at Arizona State University.
Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor, and Mark Finchem, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, have both put denial of the 2020 election results in their state at the forefront of their campaigns. Aligning themselves closely with former President Donald Trump and his stolen election lie, Lake has falsely called President Joe Biden an illegitimate president, while Finchem has said that had he been secretary of state when Biden won Arizona, he would not have certified the 2020 election results.
Both have also claimed without evidence that the midterm elections next month might be tainted by fraud.
“They’ve looked at all of the law, the facts and the rulings of the courts, and they said it doesn’t matter to them," Cheney said of Lake and Finchem.
"So what happens here in Arizona is not just important for Arizona, but it’s important for the nation and for the future functioning of our constitutional republic," she said.
Later during the event, which was put on by the McCain Institute, a think tank named for the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Cheney noted that "for almost 40 years now, I've been voting Republican."
"I don't know that I have ever voted for a Democrat," she continued. "But if I lived in Arizona now, I absolutely would ... for governor and for secretary of state."
Lake and Finchem are locked in tight races against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs, the current secretary of state, and Democratic secretary of state nominee Adrian Fontes, currently the Maricopa County recorder, polling suggests. Arizona has turned from being solidly red to deeply purple, and it was one of the most critical presidential swing states in 2020, when Biden became the first Democrat to flip the state blue in a presidential election since 1996.
"We cannot be in a position where we elect people who will not fundamentally uphold the sanctity of elections," Cheney said Wednesday.
“So what happens here in Arizona is not just important for Arizona, but it’s important for the nation and for the future functioning of our constitutional republic,” she said earlier.
At a candidate forum later Wednesday evening, Lake called Cheney a "warmonger."
In August, Cheney, an outspoken critic of Trump's election lies, lost her primary in a landslide after Trump endorsed her opponent. After she voted for his impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and subsequently served as the top Republican on the House committee investigating the riot and his role in it, she became one of his top targets for political retribution.
Speaking to more than 200 people gathered in Tempe, Cheney said she believes "it's important for us as Republicans to demand from our Republican leaders that they not accept this unraveling of the democracy."
She criticized other fellow Republicans by name for supporting those election-denying candidates, including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who is set to campaign with Lake this month.
He "should not come here" to stump for her, she said. She also took issue with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who campaigned with Lake earlier Wednesday.
Cruz, she said, "absolutely knows that what he’s advocating is unconstitutional, that what she’s saying is unconstitutional."
"They know it," she said. "And as Republicans, there have to be consequences. And we have to make sure that people understand that we’re going to vote for those that we can trust and depend on to do the right thing."