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Ron Watkins, QAnon "influencer" and Arizona House candidate

A leading contender for the Republican nomination in a competitive Arizona House seat said that doctors who perform abortions and people who receive them should both be charged with homicide.

State Rep. Walt Blackman made the comments during a GOP primary debate for Arizona's 2nd District after the moderator asked him whether he stands by a past comment about wanting to charge abortion providers and those who get abortions with homicide.

"Exactly," Blackman said, saying that homicide charges for abortions are, "already in our statute, Arizona statute. If a person commits abortion or kills a baby while in the womb, it's in our criminal statute."

Blackman is listed as a top candidate for the seat by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to the House.

It's not the only controversial comment Blackman has made in the past.

In September, Blackman voiced his support for the Proud Boys — a white nationalist group that helped plan the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A leader of the extremist organization was arrested in March and charged with conspiracy for his apparent role in helping plan the attempt to subvert democracy and stop the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

"The Proud Boys came to one of my events, and that was one of the proudest moments of my life," Blackman said at a September event seeking "justice" for those charged in the insurrection. He added that the Proud Boys set an "example of how to be an American."

Blackman saying women who get abortions should be charged with murder wasn't even the most controversial moment of Wednesday night's primary debate.

Another candidate, Ron Watkins — one of the leaders of the baseless QAnon conspiracy movement — lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Watkins ran the far-right website 8chan, which the New York Times has described as a "go-to resource for violent extremists" who have committed mass murders. At Wednesday night's debate, Watkins bragged about his efforts to push the false conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell — who was sanctioned for filing baseless lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election — based some of her "evidence" on Watkins' conspiracy theories.

During the debate, Watkins defended his efforts to try to "decertify" Biden's 2020 victory, after Blackman told him that nothing in the Constitution allows for the decertification of an election.

"During the Revolutionary War ... there was nothing that said we could fight the British, but we did," Watkins said, using an analogy to describe why he would embark on a destined-to-fail endeavor. "Americans go, and they fight even when they know we can't win."

Watkins went on to tout his relationship with Powell, as well as pillow mogul and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, saying that "we found that the machines were stealing the votes." (The machines did not steal votes.)

Arizona's 2nd District is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran. In the redistricting process, the district became much more conservative, going from a seat Biden carried in 2020 to one that now has a 15-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight. The nonpartisan political handicapping outlet Inside Elections projects that Republicans will likely flip the seat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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