Following the Attorney General debate on Sep. 28, it is clear that Republican candidate Abe Hamadeh and Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters are cut from the same cloth. In an attempt to win over a hesitant moderate voter base, both Trump-endorsed contenders are softening their extremist rhetoric, reflecting the GOP’s desperate move to switch up its narrative.
Simply calling the effort futile ignores its shocking intent to betray Arizona voters.
The debate itself started off conventionally, with Democrat candidate Kris Mayes giving her opening statement, and Abe Hamadeh following suit, with both contenders finding common ground in enforcing stricter fentanyl policy in Arizona. After a brief stab at civility, the debate quickly veered south. Hamadeh consistently attempted to undermine Mayes’ legal background, and Mayes countered just as swiftly and curtly in turn, criticizing Hamadeh’s judicial inexperience.
Although both sides generally engaged in vitriol toward each other’s statements, Hamadeh’s remarks require more careful analysis. New to the political game, Hamadeh leaned heavily into the pathos of his humble beginnings in an immigrant family, attesting the value of hard work and the American Dream, and swearing that he would bring “safety and security” to Arizona. Leaning into these classic American conservative values helped take the focus away from Hamadeh’s relative political and legal inexperience, a strategy reminiscent of former President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Like Trump, Hamadeh posed himself as a man of the people rather than the archetypal power-hungry politician.
Blake Masters behaves similarly. Sweeping claims that he will “fight for our liberties” flash across Masters’ new and prolific campaign ads, heavily relying on the emotional appeal of freedom to sway independent voters who initially rejected his extremist rhetoric. Hamadeh’s nebulous position on prosecuting abortion providers during the debate echoes Masters’ recent switch from denouncing abortions as “demonic” to advocating for “common sense regulation around abortion”. And although both political candidates have questioned or outright denied the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election, Master has since scrubbed his election-denying language from his website, while Hamadeh referenced unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in Yuma and avoided direct commentary on Trump’s election claims during the debate.
These maneuvers to soften their previously extreme stances on key political issues come as no surprise. Masters is trailing behind his Senate Democrat counterpart Mark Kelly in the polls, and Mayes outperforms Hamadeh in simulations of the Attorney General race. Their political disadvantages make sharp strategy changes imperative to maximize their chances in November. However, it appears that this herculean effort is likely to prove futile in the face of established opponents like Kelly and Mayes. Worse, it reveals the GOP candidates’ lack of integrity. If they’re willing to completely scrub their beliefs in order to win, the welfare of Arizona voters is not even an objective on Masters’ and Hamadeh’s minds. They’re fully operating under the GOP’s nationwide agenda to take control of Arizona, and not prioritizing Arizona families as they claim. Their flip-flopping on key issues only goes to show their loyalty to the GOP, and not to their would-be constituents.
This makes Masters’ and Hamadeh’s actions a shocking betrayal of Arizona voters. Worse, they are a reflection of a party that no longer seeks to genuinely serve the American people.