Two years ago, a group of election deniers ran for office in Arizona, with Kari Lake’s campaign for governor topping the ticket. When many of them lost, it seemed like a convincing rebuke of the conspiracy theory-steeped Republicans who wanted to control the levers of electoral power in 2024.

It turned out, though, that the small matter of losing was not going to keep election deniers out of the spotlight, nor away from key roles in the Arizona Republican Party and beyond.

And neither will an indictment, it seems.

Last week, the Democratic attorney general of Arizona charged 17 people with counts including conspiracy, fraud and forgery, alleging they made efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump’s narrow loss in the 2020 election that amounted to a crime. Eleven of the people charged cast fake electoral votes in support of Trump.

The defendants who got the most attention are the ones who were closest to Trump at the time, like former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York, the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Boris Epshteyn, who is one of Trump’s legal advisers. (While their names were redacted in the indictment, detailed descriptions contained in the charging documents made it easy to tell who they are.)

But the trajectory of some of the 11 local and lower-profile defendants is even more revealing. Their story shows how Republicans who sought to challenge the 2020 election results continue to face few political consequences, and how deeply their philosophy is woven into the politics of 2024 in Arizona and elsewhere.

“The party has not only not created any distance, it has continued to forcefully embrace” election deniers, said Barrett Marson, a Republican strategist in Phoenix.


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