Arizonans must put country before party

Tommy McKone and Alec Esteban Thomson Special to the Arizona Daily Star

We are a proud Republican and Independent. We’re also both Arizona natives, with strong ties to the state we love — it’s why we stayed, why we got involved in public service, and why we are deeply invested in protecting our state, our elections, our democracy from chaos and mistrust.


As young political professionals, politicians like Sen. McCain, Sen. Flake, Congressman Pastor, Congressman Mitchell, Congressman Kolbe, Gov. Hull, Gov. Napolitano, among many other great Arizona leaders, set a high bar for our view of effective leadership and public service. Leaders like these, from both sides of the aisle, fueled our respect for American democracy and the critical importance of civic engagement. That’s why we chose this profession. To work together, collectively, to get things done. Not to spur hatred and incite violence in our communities over unfounded conspiracy theories.


This November, Arizonans have an opportunity to preserve our independent-minded spirit and protect the institutions we all count on. The institutions that allow us to fight for what we believe in, to disagree and to find consensus, to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.


But that is at risk. This election is not about politics or the issues we’re talking about on any given day. This election is about coming together as Arizonans to put country before party because the stakes are too high.

In this election, Arizonans have two options for Secretary of State — Arizona’s chief elections administrator. United States Marine Corps vet, attorney, and elections expert, Adrian Fontes, or state Rep. Mark Finchem.


As Arizonans begin to do their research on these two individuals ahead of ballots dropping, it is important that they consider the harshest criticism of these two candidates and make commonsense decisions based on facts and morals.


The biggest knock against Fontes? During the height of a global pandemic, and in an effort to instill health and safety precautions for voters, Recorder Fontes wanted to mail ballots to only registered voters in the Democratic party’s March 2020 Presidential Preference Election. There has been conflation between this and the primary. The PPE is not a Primary Election. This was an election that only Democrats could vote in to select Democratic party delegates for the Democratic Convention. Fontes was challenged by Secretary Hobbs and Attorney General Mark Brnovich on this idea and ultimately did not send those ballots out before there was an opportunity to litigate.


By contrast — Finchem was part of the mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and has helped propagate the Big Lie. Chilling videos prove his participation in one of the most shocking and terrifying days of our lifetime. Finchem has advocated for stockpiling weapons ahead of an impending civil war, he is a member of a violent extremist group, he has vowed to eliminate voting by mail, will restrict early voting, and has fought for legislation that would give the state Legislature the power to overturn election results. Finchem also violated state law by failing to disclose income under penalty of perjury, income that includes being paid by former President Donald Trump to advance the narrative of fraud in the 2020 election. What a contract, right?


These critiques of Fontes and Finchem are night and day. Attempts to equalize these differences would be laughable if there wasn’t so much on the line.


Adrian’s not perfect. None of us are. But Finchem is dangerous and a direct threat to our democracy and the future of our state and country. We are both a Republican and Independent who love this state and are willing to cast off party labels for the greater good because we see what is on the horizon, and it’s scary.


Party doesn’t matter, preserving democracy, respect and decency does. Now more than ever, we need to put our party labels aside to do what’s right for Arizona

and join the thousands of others in our parties to vote for Fontes for Secretary of State in November.


Be educated and vote with your conscience. What side of history will you be on?