/ Modified apr 14, 2024 8:30 a.m.

Shaman sidelined: Chansley among more than 70 to miss signature threshold

Jacob Angeli-Chansley, better known as the “Qanon Shaman,” will not be going back to Washington – at least not in any official capacity.

Qanon Shaman Jacob Angeli-Chansley, left, said last year he planned to run as a Libertarian for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District seat this fall, but he failed to turn in the signatures needed to make the ballot. Angeli-Chansley is best known at the QAnon Shaman, right in 2020, who became the face of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Screen grab by Alexandria Cullen,Photo by Hope O’Brien,Cronkite News)

Jacob Angeli-Chansley, better known as the “Qanon Shaman,” will not be going back to Washington – at least not in any official capacity.

Angeli-Chansley was one of more than 70 would-be candidates for federal office who failed to meet the April 1 deadline to turn in petition signatures to the secretary of state’s office that were needed to get their names on the ballot.

While that narrowed the field, it still left dozens of candidates who will compete in this fall’s primary and general elections – some of which are already shaping up to be bitter, high-profile bloodbaths.

The largest winnowing was in the race to replace Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Arizona, who took herself out of the running in early March when she said she would not seek reelection. Of the 30 candidates who filed a statement of interest for the seat with the secretary of state’s office, just six remain after the petition deadline.

Senate candidates still standing include Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix; Republicans Kari Lake, Elizabeth Jean Reye and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb; and Green Party hopefuls Michael Norton and Arturo Hernandez. Most analysts expect the race to be between Gallego and Lake, the failed GOP nominee for governor in 2022, who had already raised millions between them by the end of last year.

There has also been a shaking out in the race to replace Gallego in Congressional District 3. Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari and former Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Terán are seen as the strongest candidates in the Democratic primary, which is likely the only race that matters in the solidly blue district.

In the First District, incumbent Rep. David Schweikert, R-Fountain Hills, is down to one primary challenger, Robert Backie. But the field of Democrats to challenge Schweikert remains deep: Candidates include former state Rep. Amish Shah, former Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny, businessman Conor O’Callaghan and former journalist Marlene Galan-Woods.

Angeli-Chansley was one of 11 candidates who failed to make the cut in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, in Congressional District 8. But that still leaves six big-name hopefuls competing in the heavily Republican district.

Lesko’s district is one of the most crowded Republican primary fields in the state, which includes 2022 Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh, former U.S. Senate nominee Blake Masters, Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Glendale, and state Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale. It also includes former Rep. Trent Franks, who held the seat before Lesko but resigned amid an ethics investigation in 2017.

The primary for Lesko’s seat is among the most important in the state, said Paul Bentz, senior vice president of research and strategy at HighGround Public Affairs Consultants. He said it will likely determine her successor.

“It’s an 11-point Republican registration, something like a 17-point participation advantage for Republicans. Trump won the district by 14 points in 2020,” Bentz said. “So the race is the primary, and with a crowded primary like this, it’s building up that base of support and getting in front of as many of those conservative Republicans as possible.”

Arizona political consultant Jason Rose believes that despite a field of heavyweights, endorsements of Hamadeh from Lake and former President Donald Trump make this “absolutely” Hamadeh’s race to lose.

“I mean, Donald Trump has become the biggest and most important referee in Republican politics since Ronald Reagan,” Rose said. “So when you have the ultimate referee saying, ‘This is my guy,’ you get to 33, 35% (of the primary vote) pretty quick.”

Rose did say that if Masters sees an uptick in fundraising, he might be able to claw the race back from “Hamadeh because he has already been anointed by Trump.”

“For Blake Masters to overcome that, he has one advantage, which is money because there’s only so much money the others can raise,” Rose said. “And so that’s what’s going to be, you know, his challenge: Can he disqualify Hamadeh beyond issues?”

However, Bentz said that Masters and Hamadeh are not the only candidates with a chance in District 8. “Don’t sleep on Ben Toma,” who he said could be an intriguing alternative to some voters.

Toma “actually lives in the district; neither Hamadeh nor Masters lives in that district. Toma has been endorsed by Lesko and by (former) Gov. (Jan) Brewer, who was very popular in that area,” Bentz said.

“It’s still certainly a very difficult challenge for Toma because he doesn’t have the name ID that either Masters or Hamadeh would have… but he’s got good conservative credentials,” he said.

Bentz did concede that Hamadeh is “the front-runner at this point,” but that it’s too early to write off any candidate in the crowded field, pointing out similar trends the last time the seat was vacated.

“We saw with the special election that originally elected Lesko, folks forget that that was a very crowded race with a lot of people jumping in. The front-runner… started to slip near the end, especially once people started going after him,” Bentz said. “I think Hamadeh would be the front-runner, but that also puts a target on him.”

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