Politics

'Die for Something:' Arizona GOP Incites Violence Over Election Fraud Fantasy

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko addresses the crowd at a November 5 press conference at the Arizona GOP headquarters.
Congresswoman Debbie Lesko addresses the crowd at a November 5 press conference at the Arizona GOP headquarters. Josh Kelety
In a series of tweets posted last night and early Tuesday morning, the Arizona Republican Party incited violence and encouraged its supporters to give their lives in the fanciful effort to overturn the presidential election results.

The first tweet, which was issued at 10:52 p.m. on December 7, retweeted another user, @Ali, going by the display name Ali [Orange Square] #StopTheSteal. ("StopTheSteal" is a reference to conservatives' baseless theories that widespread voter fraud and election tampering handed Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden the election.) The user wrote, "I am willing to give my life for this fight."

In its retweet of Ali's tweet, the Arizona Republican Party account wrote, "He is. Are you?"

In another tweet posted a few hours later at 1:52 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Arizona Republican Party included a Rambo movie clip with the quote, "This is what we do, this is who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something."



That tweet has since been removed.

Both posts quickly caught the attention of local and national press; The Hill and The Daily Beast covered the Arizona Republican Party's Twitter activity.

When asked for comment on the posts, Zach Henry, a spokesperson for the Arizona Republican Party, largely stood by the posts.

“The Republican Party of Arizona condemns all forms of violence in the strongest terms. Fictional movie scenes should be weighed in their proper context," he wrote in an email. "However, due to concerns about copyright and fair use law, this clip has been removed.”

Grant Woods, a former Republican Arizona Attorney General, characterized the tweets as a direct incitement of violence.

"In Arizona, the GOP has embraced a lot of fringe players and their fringe theories. That’s one thing that just leads them to ultimately becoming a fringe party," he told New Times. "This sort of behavior, encouraging violence, is unacceptable. We need all elected and formerly elected republicans to denounce it now."

Woods added that "troubled people" may take the Arizona Republican Party's messaging literally and commit acts of violence.

"You have to be a lot more responsible with your public comments if you’re going to be a leader and continue to be a major party," he said. "You can feel strongly about issues and candidates, but nobody should support or encourage violence. In Arizona, we’ve been touched by violence with Congresswoman Giffords, so you would think here, of all places, the Republican Party would understand that these things can have ramifications."

The Arizona GOP's violence-inciting tweets are just the latest escalation in its attempt to undo the state's 2020 November general election results. Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden won the state by around 10,000 votes and the results were certified by Republican Governor Doug Ducey, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs last week.

While the Arizona GOP, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, and other conservatives have levied numerous lawsuits against local and state election officials to undermine the election results, they have been continually rebuffed in court. The latest legal complaint, which was filed by Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, sought to overturn Biden's win in Arizona. It was shot down by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall H. Warner, who wrote in his ruling, "The Court finds no misconduct, no fraud, and no effect on the outcome of the election." Ward appealed the ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has agreed to review the appeal.

Meanwhile, a large group of current and recently elected Republican Arizona legislators reportedly signed a statement calling for the 2020 election results to be decertified. The group features 20 current Republican legislators and eight newly elected individuals. This comes after Republican Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers issued a statement last week that the Arizona Legislature won't try to overturn the election results.

"As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election. I voted for President Trump and worked hard to reelect him," Bowers wrote in a December 4 statement. "But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election."

Update: After this article was published and about two hours after the tweet by @Ali, Governor Ducey tweeted what appeared to be a response to the GOP's call for giving their life for the cause:

"The Republican Party is the party of the Constitution and the rule of law. We prioritize public safety, law & order, and we respect the law enforcement officers who keep us safe. We don’t burn stuff down. We build things up."

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Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety