Editorial: Only one person could turn Arizona blue

File Photo By Alexia Faith/Cronkite News: Katie Hobbs and several other Democratic candidates were successful in Arizona in the General Election.

Column By John Young

Loaves and fishes. Water to wine. Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception.” All certifiable miracles.

Add now what Donald Trump made possible in Arizona.

Late-to-acknowledge-MLK-Day Arizona. Evan Mecham’s Arizona. “Let us see your papers” Arizona.

And now: Katie Hobbs’ Arizona. Mark Kelly’s Arizona. Blue Arizona.

Arizona, where Democratic secretary of state-elect Adrian Fontes, post-victory, called Big Lie adherents “traitors.” Hear, hear.

That is Arizona, November 2022, and it’s thanks mostly to the greatest and grandest of all election liars, Donald the Albatross.

Nominate that man again, Republicans. It’s nice to have Arizona among the living.

Trump has done so many things to make himself and his spawns unpalatable to the masses. And I’ve got to say that so much of that groundwork emanated from Arizona.

Over recent days, millions of Americans like me watched the red and blue digits on state election maps spin like tumblers.

The truth is, I saw the board start to change on an August day in 2018. Joe Biden was just a former vice president then. Kari Lake was just a face for TV.

Donald Trump, however, was president and was being his usual ogre self. Arizona’s favorite son, John McCain, was dead. Trump was as crass as a national leader could be about it, grumping even about flying Capitol flags at half-staff.

Up to the microphone at McCain’s memorial stepped Joe Biden, shedding tears as he spoke of his love for McCain. The furthest thing from a partisan, Biden embodied grace. He embodied dignity. He embodied leadership.

I saw the presidential board light up for this not-yet-declared candidate: Biden. I fantasized: Angry Arizonans would award him the Electoral College clincher based on the contrast in demeanor toward their long-serving senator.

One would think a stable genius, much less one with a turnip’s IQ, would have at least feigned respect for an icon who served Arizona for 35 years in Congress and before that in Vietnam where he was a POW for five and a half years.

Well, speaking of geniuses: Disregarding that many Arizonans still revere John McCain, there was Kari Lake strutting her GOP primary win: “We drove a stake through the McCain machine.”

Smart politics? No. Smarmy Trump politics.

Speaking of Trump: There was Mark Kelly’s GOP rival, Blake Masters, sharing with the world his obedience to Trump as over the phone the disgraced, twice-impeached, soon-to-be-indicted party leader told Masters to lean on the Big Lie on the campaign trail.

One could see Masters’ bony joints jerk to the strings of his puppet master.

Smart politics?

And then there was Mark Finchem, the Republican seeking to administer Arizona’s elections, tacitly saying his chief objective was to reinstate Trump as president.

The man who defeated him, Adrian Fontes, said that Finchem, Lake, Masters, and Trump had insulted the people of Arizona with their refusal to accept the results of 2020.

This included multiple and costly recounts, topped off by a clown show called Cyber Ninjas, whose own audit of the state vote showed the claims of Trump and his marionettes were utterly baseless.

As demonstrated so often this year, most elections are won at the margins. Rare are the Gretchen Whitmer, and Josh Shapiro landslides.

To win at the margins, it generally helps to project trustworthiness, certainly not to rant and belabor election claims that anyone with willing eyes and ears would consider specious.

Arizona still harbors much redness, particularly in its rural reaches, so Lake, Masters, and even Finchem made things close.

But they all lost, and the reason for the string of sanity awarded by Arizona voters was one man.

So it wasn’t a miracle at all.

Like Franco Harris, the voters saw what was right before their eyes and took it to the house, and the Senate.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.