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Trump points a big finger at Brnovich in Florence

Former President Donald Trump points to the crowd as he speaks at a Save America Rally Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Florence, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

IN THIS ARTICLE: Pressure on Brnovich, Trump shouts-out Masters, Kern defiant on alternate electors, Lake talks George Washington

Arizona Republicans methodically hammered claims the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump at a rally in Florence on Tuesday, putting the pressure of the Trump faithful squarely on Attorney General Mark Brnovich. 

One of the early speakers, Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, led the crowd in a call-and-response chant telling the AG to make arrests related to the election. “What do we want?” she asked. “Indictments!” the crowd roared. “When do we want them?” “Now!”

Before the last round, Townsend cried: “One more for Brnovich!” 

When Trump took the stage, he also called out the Attorney General by name. “We’re now anxiously waiting for Attorney General Brnovich and hopefully he’s going to do his job. I think he’s a good man, I think he’s going to do his job – we’ll find out. I think it’s a very easy job to do, because anybody with any common sense is going to look, they’re going to take a look, and they’re going to say this was a total fraud.” 

Brnovich hasn’t replied to questions about whether he’s investigating the 2020 election, though former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said investigators from the Brnovich’s office interviewed him about the election in October. 

Brnovich is currently running for U.S. Senate and Trump didn’t explicitly endorse any candidates in that race on Saturday, but did say that he would “be making an endorsement at the right time” in the race. Minutes later, Trump gave a shout-out to another GOP Senate contender, Blake Masters, calling him “a really terrific guy.” 

As Trump was speaking, Brnovich posted a photo to Twitter of the pair together, smiling for the camera and flashing a thumbs-up and peace sign. “Great to have you in Arizona Mr. President!” he wrote in the tweet.

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The Saturday rally, held under the “Save America” banner, was Trump’s first event of the year and previewed the role that he’s planning to play in the state’s 2022 mid-term elections. It packed thousands of supporters into the Florence fairgrounds that host the Country Thunder music festival and caused a traffic jam – even after the event started, cars and trucks were stuck in a standstill miles away from the venue.

The speaker lineup included prominent state Republicans: Townsend, former Rep. Anthony Kern; Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward; Sen. Sonny Borelli, R-Lake Havasu City; U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria; U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert; Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff; Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley; and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. 

Beyond just Brnovich, who’s been under pressure from the Trump faction of the party for months, speakers on Saturday turned their ire on Doug Ducey and said they’re not trying to elect just any Republicans in 2022. 

“This is the year Arizona will hopefully have a supermajority of conservative Republicans,” said Kern, to applause from the crowd.

Kern was among the 11 Republicans who signed a false elector certificate to give Arizona’s presidential votes to Trump that’s come under increased scrutiny in the past week. Kern said he’s turned down reporters’ calls lately, but he had a message for people who want to see a criminal investigation into the document: “You know who I believe are the real criminals? The ones who stole the election.” 

Even before the rally, Trump took a swing at Ducey, putting out a statement that called the governor a “RINO” and adding that Ducey “will never have my endorsement or the support of MAGA nation” should he jump into the Senate race. In his speech on Saturday, Trump said Ducey was “so terrible.” 

“I can see it right now, Mr. President … George Washington crossing the Delaware with a Make America Great Again flag in the back of the boat.”

Governor candidate Kari Lake

Kari Lake, who has Trump’s endorsement in the gubernatorial race, was a star of Saturday’s show. Trump invited her onto the stage with him and said: “Kari Lake, I’ll tell you, she is incredible!” 

Lake returned the favor, saying that if the founding fathers were alive today, they would be Trump Republicans. “I can see it right now, Mr. President,” she said. “George Washington crossing the Delaware with a Make America Great Again flag in the back of the boat.” 

Nonetheless, it wasn’t a perfectly unified front. Finchem, who’s also a Trump-endorsed candidate after earning the former president’s favor in the race for Secretary of State, kept his distance from Lake on Saturday. 

In an interview with Right Side Broadcasting Network before the speakers took the stage, Finchem said people had been asking him who he would endorse in the governor’s race. “The Secretary of State is actually in a pretty unique position because, no matter who it is, I’ve got to work with them,” he said. “I think Kari could be a competent candidate, obviously President Trump has made the call, (but) I don’t know what went into that, for the same reason that I don’t know what went into the call that he made for me.” 

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