Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb enters U.S. Senate race to challenge Kyrsten Sinema
Republican Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb announced Tuesday he is running for U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema.
Lamb is the first Republican to enter the 2024 contest, but is unlikely to be the last. Sinema, who won in 2018 as a Democrat but last year left that party to become an independent, has already drawn a challenge from U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Phoenix Democrat.
Lamb was first elected sheriff of Pinal County in 2016, and since then has been a fixture in Arizona politics and has grown a national profile, regularly appearing on mainstream and far-right fringe media outlets. It is his appearances and alliances with those fringe outlets that could sow trouble for Lamb on the campaign trail.
Gallego has already begun noting his connections to the far right, and issued a statement Tuesday with Capitol Hill Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell condemning Lamb’s “perpetuation of the ‘Big Lie.’”
Lamb has partnered with groups like True the Vote that have pursued far-flung conspiracy theories of election fraud and lied to law enforcement.
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Lamb and the political fringe
While Lamb has been making a name for himself appearing on mainstream conservative media outlets like Fox News, where he opines about immigration issues, he has also been appealing to a different audience as well.
Lamb has railed against vaccines and is part of a group known as “constitutional sheriffs.”
The movement, led by former Arizona Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, is a sovereign-citizen group in which its leader, Mack, believes that the “New World Order” is aiming to take away guns — and that sheriffs are on the frontlines of stopping “election fraud.”
Lamb has claimed he is not a “constitutional sheriff,” though he appears as a signatory with the organization in some of their material, and Mack himself has called Lamb a constitutional sheriff.
The group takes a favorable view of armed citizen militias, including militias that are active along Arizona’s border with Mexico. Such groups are largely anti-government, and some of their leaders have been in attendance at the Jan. 6 riot.
Some of the militias also are also steeped in the QAnon conspiracy theory that a “cabal” is actively participating in sex trafficking in order to help the “elites,” often to help the Democratic party and hinder the Republicans. There is no proof to these claims.
Lamb has signaled to these conspiracy theorists, signing a copy of a book for a QAnon influencer with the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA.”
Other QAnon proponents have claimed to have been working with Lamb, like Melody Jennings, also known as “TrumperMel,” the woman behind an effort to organize armed observers to monitor drop boxes in Arizona during the 2022 election. The courts ultimately blocked Jennings and her group, which included members of the extremist Oath Keepers, from staking out the drop boxes.
Lamb has also appeared on a number of QAnon-related shows, as well, including one that with a history of antisemitic comments. TruNews has published antisemitic rhetoric on its site, including a piece in which founder Rick Wiles spent an hour and a half saying that “seditious Jews” were “orchestrating” to impeach Trump and calling the Jewish people “tyrants.”
Wiles has also claimed that the anti-Christ will be a “homosexual Jew.” He was interviewed by Lauren Witzke and, during an episode in which Lamb also appeared, Wiles said that Jews “squash” and “crush” people. Witzke is a conspiracy theorist and has echoed white nationalist beliefs herself. During an appearance on the white nationalist podcast No White Guilt, Witzke echoed the racist “great replacement” theory.
Lamb supported Witzke when she ran for U.S. Senate in Delaware.
Lamb has also echoed the “great replacement” theory while on a QAnon talk show, saying that illegal immigration is a “benefit to their agenda.”
The racist ideology, popular among white supremacists, holds that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants. It has been seized upon by extremist groups such as the American Identity Movement and Generation Identity.
It has also stoked violence, including Anders Behring Breivik’s murderous rampage in 2011 at a Norwegian youth summer camp and the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in United States history. Just before it took place, the killer took to right-wing social media site Gab to say he believed that immigrants were being brought in to replace and “kill our people.”
The next year in New Zealand, 51 people would be killed and 40 injured but not before the shooter would post a 74-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.”
Again in 2019, in El Paso, Texas, a shooter who killed 23 in a Walmart cited the “great replacement” in his manifesto, saying the murders were a response to the “hispanic invasion of Texas.”
While Lamb testified to Congress earlier this year said he saw “zero evidence” of widespread voter fraud, he has continued to ally and work with groups that have continued to pursue unfounded allegations of fraud in the 2020 and 2022 elections.
One of those groups is True the Vote, the group that has been behind debunked claims behind the discredited film “2000 Mules.”
Lamb partnered with TTV on an election hotline that sent voters to TTV for election issues instead of to election officials. He wrote the “Sheriff’s Toolkit” for TTV and he attended an invite-only event in Pinal County by TTV dubbed “The Pit.”
The event, which hosted QAnon influencers and other conspiracy theorists, pushed unfounded fraud allegations and allowed for many in the election fraud sphere to rub noses with the likes of Lamb and other high profile people in Arizona. In May of last year, Lamb also said he had “no doubt” that there was fraud in the 2020 election, later mentioning “2000 Mules” prior to its release.
Lamb is likely to not be the only GOP contender in the Senate race.
Duncan Colton, one of Kari Lake’s senior advisors, told the Washington Post that Lake may be eyeing a Senate run herself. Lamb endorsed Lake in her 2022 bid for governor.