Conservative group falls short of signature requirement to become a political party

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 1:58pm
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 2:00pm

A conservative group attempting to get verified as Arizona’s next political party did not collect enough signatures to qualify.

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes announced on Monday afternoon that the “Patriot Party” did not collect enough valid signatures to be recognized as a political party on the 2024 ballot. According to Fontes, the Patriot Party submitted 37,227 signatures, but county recorders determined that only 31,018 signatures were valid — below the required threshold of 34,127.

The Patriot Party’s leader, former Republican lawmaker John Fillmore, believes Fontes was pressured by Republicans not to verify his group.

“It’s sad that the Democratic Secretary of State’s Office — Mr. Fontes’ office — was intimidated by the Republican National Committee into making a rash, rash decision,” Fillmore said.

Last Thursday, the state Republican Party accused Fontes of not being transparent enough during the signature verification process for the Patriot Party. They claimed Fontes, a Democrat, wanted the burgeoning conservative party to succeed and siphon away Republican votes in upcoming elections. 

The AZGOP also announced that they’d conducted their own review of the signatures and determined that the Patriot Party didn’t have enough to qualify. If Fontes were to verify the Patriot Party anyway, the GOP said they would file a lawsuit against him.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that the RNC and NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] would join the AZGOP in the lawsuit. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Fillmore said his group hasn’t reviewed their own signatures yet. Once they do, he said they’ll decide on a response.