EXCLUSIVE: The Republican National Committee (RNC) is threatening to take Arizona’s top election official “to court and win” if his office certifies the Patriot Party.
Arizona’s Patriot Party, which bills itself as a constitutional conservative party, submitted faulty signatures for its state application, the RNC alleges.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News Digital if Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, certifies the party, it would be “a drastic failure to uphold the standards of his office.”
“Upon review of the filing, it’s become clear that this party doesn’t even have the necessary signatures to make it onto the ballot. If Fontes chooses to certify their petition in the face of these glaring issues, the RNC, NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] and AZGOP [Arizona State Republican Party] will take him to court and win,” McDaniel said.
The RNC claims the Patriot Party submitted approximately up to 8,000 signatures from non-registered voters, 10,000 signatures from more than two years ago and 900 duplicate signatures in its filing.
The Patriot Party must gather at least 34,127 valid signatures from qualified electors to appear on the ballot.
Should Fontes certify the Patriot Party’s signatures to become a party on Arizona’s ballot and it puts up a candidate, it could split the GOP vote in the 2024 elections after GOP losses in Arizona in 2020 and 2022.
“Fontes didn’t notify anyone, blocked observers and essentially rolled out a secret red carpet in what looks like a drastic failure to uphold the standards of his office,” said McDaniel.
The secretary of state’s office declined to comment on the Patriot Party’s application process.
Patriot Party President John Fillmore told Fox News Digital the group has launched a campaign to recruit candidates in Arizona.
“We are actively recruiting candidates. I have several people who are nameless… who said that if we become a party, they will join us,” said Fillmore.
“We will always probably caucus with the Republicans, but we will not be hamstrung by the Republican Party rules.”
“If I get enough signatures for us to become another party, well then, hey, there’s a problem in their house,” said Fillmore.
Fillmore asserted he does not think the addition of the party will split GOP votes, saying this party “will not be looking to put candidates in a race where we have a strong conservative Republican.”
In 2022, Democrat Katie Hobbs beat Republican Kari Lake by a margin of less than 1%. Trump-backed venture capitalist Blake Masters also lost his Senate bid to Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly by a large margin.
Both Democrats and Republicans have opposed third parties that threaten to split the ballot in key swing states. President Biden and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have launched attacks against the No Labels Party, which is seeking to qualify for ballots in all 50 states and is flirting with the prospect of offering an alternative presidential candidate in 2024.
Fontes, a Democrat, will decide whether the Patriot Party’s signatures are valid by Friday.