Arizona GOP Spars With Fontes, Fillmore Over New Party Filing

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Adrian Fontes

The Arizona Republican Party is crying foul over the manner in which Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has sought to ratify a proposed Patriot Party as the newest political party in Arizona. Contrary to the way the Secretary of State’s office handled the filing by the No Labels Party, the recent filing by the Patriot Party was handled in secret, with none of the major parties notified or allowed to observe the process.

Moreover, copies of the petitions later provided to the Republican Party were incomplete and prevented the AZGOP from being able to completely verify the nearly 38,000 signatures filed by John Fillmore, the new head of the Arizona Patriot Party.

The Patriot Party has had a controversial existence over its first few years, due largely to the well-publicized antics of its original founder, Daniel McCarthy, who originally ran for the Republican nomination for US Senate before turning on Republicans in general, and President Donald Trump and others specifically. McCarthy eventually handed the reins over to John Fillmore, after Fillmore himself was defeated in a Republican primary for State House.

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McCarthy made it clear that his goal was the destruction and replacement of the Republican Party, and Fillmore was quoted in a Fox News story as saying “If I get enough signatures for us to become another party, well then, hey, there’s a problem in their house.” Recently, Fillmore has attempted to portray the party as less anti-GOP, but political observers believe that is more related to Fillmore’s newest campaign for office as a Republican than anything else.

“John Fillmore spends his days trashing conservatives and Republicans to try to recruit people to his new Patriot Party, but he spends his campaign evenings pretending to be a loyal Republican and trying to get Republicans to vote him back into the State House, so this whole thing is just a scam,” complained one angry Republican activist.

McCarthy, who once produced a video that called Trump “a little b*tch”, worked closely with Fillmore on an election bill when Fillmore was in the State House, but the bill went nowhere as lawmakers wanted no part of McCarthy or his group, and Fillmore’s own push for the bill fizzled out when he challenged lawmakers to pledge to withhold their support for the state budget unless the bill was passed, then refused to make the pledge himself.

“Fillmore screwed us that day,” said a supporter of the bill who was at the Capitol for the press conference and rally. “He was supposed to be drawing a line in the sand and he completely chickened out.”

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The Patriot Party needs to file approximately 34,000 valid signatures, which doesn’t leave it much room if it only filed around 38,000 signatures, but Fillmore was confident of success. At the same time, the RNC and AZGOP put out a statement that claimed the Patriot Party had filed more than 8,000 signatures of non-registered voters, 900 duplicate signatures (that may only be counted once but were counted twice in the initial filing), and around 10,000 signatures from the first failed attempt to qualify as a political party two years ago. Both the RNC and AZGOP have promised legal challenges should Fontes certify the new political party. Fontes will complete his work by this coming Friday.

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