By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Three weeks after the election and nearly a week after all votes were tallied, Gov. Doug Ducey finally acknowledged Tuesday that Joe Biden won the race for president in Arizona and is entitled to the state's 11 electoral votes.
"I trust our election system,'' he said in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Mike Broomhead.
"There's integrity in our election system,'' Ducey continued. "Joe Biden did win Arizona.''
And the governor said he anticipates final certification of the results this coming week.
But Ducey has yet to criticize any members of his own party who continue to allege fraud in the election and seek to overturn the results.
That includes Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, who continues to insist there are irregularities that need to be investigated. And Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, wants a special legislative session to "take evidence and make a decision on whether fraud corrupted our 2020 elections.''
As recently as last week, the governor refused to acknowledge the results even as he said he had seen not evidence of "widespread fraud or irregularity'' in the conduct of the Arizona election though he "heard about it.'' But he pointed out at that time that there were still lawsuits pending by President Trump and his supporters challenging the results.
All those existing claims have now been resolved.
The ruling on one of those cleared the way for Maricopa County supervisors on Friday to formally certify the results of the vote. It showed Biden gaining more than 45,000 more votes than the president in the state's largest county, providing a crucial margin that helped him take the state by fewer than 11,000 votes.
On Monday, Mohave County supervisors, who initially had balked at their own certification, followed suit, with all 15 counties now having official tallies.
That leaves only for the formal state "canvass,'' set for this coming Monday, to make the results official. Ducey is required by state law to sign that certification, along with the secretary of state and the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
There is still the possibility of litigation.
State law does allow for post-canvass challenges within five days. But the grounds for bringing such a lawsuit are narrower than the already-dismissed claims which have centered around the procedures at polling places on Election Day and questions about the reliability of voting machines and their tallies.
Acceptable reasons for challenging the declared results of an election include misconduct on the part of election boards or those participating in the canvass, someone who was elected being ineligible for office, or bribes.
There is, however, one catch-all that could give challengers access to the courts: claims of "illegal votes.'' That has been one of the president's main claim that the results were changed by illegal ballots.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani last week said he intends to file suit in Arizona along with other states. But there has been nothing brought to court so far.
"Any legal challenges that are going to come, those go through the courts,'' Ducey said Tuesday. But he said that the formal certification will happen as scheduled.
Any post-canvass lawsuit would have to be resolved quickly.
Federal law requires any recounts or legal challenges in presidential races to be completed by Dec. 8, with the Electoral College votes cast six days later.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the Trump campaign put out a statement Tuesday saying that the Arizona Legislature is going to have a public hearing this coming Monday on the 2020 election.
"There were serious irregularities, we have proof of fraud in a number of states, and it is important for all Americans to have faith in our electoral process,'' said Jenna Ellis, the campaign senior legal advisor and personal attorney to the president. And she said the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the sole authority to select their representatives to the Electoral College, protecting against voter fraud and election manipulation.
Only thing is, neither House Speaker Rusty Bowers nor Senate President Karen Fann has authorized such a hearing. And without their permission, any meeting of lawmakers is just people coming together with no real power.
The information being put out by Ellis may have come from Finchem who has acknowledged being in contact with the lawyers in the campaign. In fact, he tried to get permission for the House Federalism Committee to have a hearing this week only to have that request refused by Bowers.
Finchem did not immediately return calls on Tuesday.
Ellis also said there will be hearings in Pennsylvania and Michigan.