PHOENIX — State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, one of the four Republicans running for Arizona secretary of state, says her knowledge of election laws and her work on voting integrity bills makes her the most qualified candidate.
We sat down with Ugenti-Rita this week as she showed us a new press release from former President Donald Trump.
Trump was endorsing Mark Finchem in the Primary Election, and he called Ugenti-Rita as a “weak ‘never Trumper’ RINO, and friends with all the Radical Left Democrats."
Ugenti-Rita, from Scottsdale, was first elected to the legislature during the 2010 Tea Party wave.
She is so fiscally conservative she has walked out on legislative budget negotiations when she believed other Republicans were overspending.
Ugenti-Rita said the attack from Trump is a sign “that I’m winning. I'm competitive. I'm going to win this race.“
Ugenti-Rita who also was not endorsed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, told ABC15 that she doesn’t need to ride on anyone’s political coattails.
After the 2020 election, she initially joined state Senate Republicans in calling for an audit of the presidential vote in Maricopa County, but she withdrew her support after watching several weeks of the audit process. Afterward, she received threats and was booed off the stage at a rally.
“I would look at what happened and say I’ve been vindicated,” she said. “Nobody's running on the audit. Nobody talks about it. Nobody wants to point it out because I think collectively we've realized that it wasn't administered correctly.“
Ugenti-Rita sponsored multiple elections bills that have become law. They include consolidating election dates, purging permanent early voter lists of infrequent voters, and banning "ballot harvesting.”
Democratic opponents have claimed the impact of some of her legislation is voter suppression.
“They're coming after my proposals because they rightfully identify my proposals as ones that go a long way in securing our elections and stopping the manipulation and cheating,” Ugenti-Rita said.
During the #MeToo movement, Ugenti-Rita made a complaint that then-state Sen. Don Shooter had sexually harassed her. He was expelled from the Senate.
After that, Ugenti-Rita was publicly accused of sexual harassment by a lobbyist, but the Senate had cleared her of wrongdoing.
Ugenti-Rita did not want to discuss the #MeToo part of her past, instead, she is focusing on how she'll lead in the future.
“I'm not going to do what's politically expedient,” she said. “I am going to do what I believe is right for this state.“
Primary Election Day is August 2.
ABC15 will be profiling candidates in many of the major races leading up to the upcoming Arizona primaries. For the latest Arizona election coverage, click here.