At just 31 years old, Abe Hamadeh is the youngest GOP candidate for Arizona attorney general, but he says he sometimes feels like the most mature one on the debate stage based on how he views the other contenders squabbling amongst themselves.
In a packed field, Hamadeh's recent endorsement from former President Donald Trump might give him an edge in the Aug. 2 primary.
A former Maricopa County prosecutor, Hamadeh, an Army captain and intelligence officer, returned last year after a Middle East deployment.
The son of Syrian immigrants, Hamadeh's family lived the "American dream" in Arizona. Hamadeh, who moved to the state when he was 5 and grew up mainly in the Cave Creek and Scottsdale areas, said his family started as lower middle class and slowly climbed the economic ladder.
His other challengers include former border security section chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Lacy Cooper, attorney Rodney Glassman, former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould, Karsten Manufacturing Corp. corporate counsel Dawn Grove and Eloy lawyer Tiffany Shedd.
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What distinguishes Hamadeh?
Hamadeh recently procured the highly coveted endorsement from Trump. While the impact of that is tested as races play out across the country, his backing is seen by many in the Republican Party as the golden ticket to securing a nomination.
Trump's support of Hamadeh underscores the candidate's belief that he is the true "America First" Republican candidate, a phrase brought back into vogue by the 45th president to characterize his own policies.
Prior to Trump's endorsement, Hamadeh received the backing of the president's national security team as well as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
"Our country is going to hell and I want to see that sense of urgency as attorney general … I'm going to fight like hell and will never quit to ensure that we protect Arizonans," he told The Arizona Republic in an interview.
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A focus on the 'radical left'
Hamadeh said he came back from his tour overseas in 2021 to a country he didn't recognize. He said he feels "as if we're at war ideologically" and that the "radical left" have forced their beliefs on the American people in a way that affects daily life, citing examples such as critical race theory and issues involving gender.
He said he believes that has led to self-censorship.
"I think what they've done so effectively is that they've made people silence and moderate themselves so that they're afraid to speak out," Hamadeh said.
'Weak-kneed Republicans' targeted
Hamadeh said Democrats don't deserve all the blame for the country's current woes. He also attributes culpability to Republicans like Gov. Doug Ducey.
"The reason why we're in this mess as a country is not just because of radical left. It's also because the weak-kneed Republicans have allowed them to take control," he said.
One of Hamadeh's major issues is elections. He vehemently disagreed with the governor's certification of the November 2020 election, citing unproven claims of widespread voting fraud. He does not believe Joe Biden won Arizona.
Asked if any of the other contenders in the GOP primary are "weak-kneed," Hamadeh replied, "All of them."
Hamadeh said he takes pride in being direct with people.
"You saw the PBS debate. None of them answered questions directly. I have the mantra 'Honest Abe' for a reason. I think I'm pretty brutally honest."
The national media has taken notice, with Hamadeh making appearances on Fox News and ABC's "This Week," among other national news programs.
Border security a focus for Hamadeh
Hamadeh says the most pressing issue facing Arizona is border security. He said he would classify what is going on at the border as an "invasion" and use the State War Powers Act to defend it.
Hamadeh also said that he would encourage the Arizona Legislature to change the law so Arizona could classify cartels as terrorist organizations and expand seizure laws to confiscate cartel assets unrelated to crime to pay for the border wall.
The anti-establishment candidate?
Hamadeh says he loves traveling to rural Arizona to meet people on the campaign trail.
"It's different than meeting the Rodney Glassmans, the Paradise Valley-Biltmore crowd where you raise money all the time," he said, referencing opponents in the race. "I like being with the people because they're not they're not asking for much. They just want their freedoms, they just want their country back.
"I think I recognize what's at stake for my generation, for future generations, and I think too many people who are running are failed politicians. They're failed candidates, failed establishment folks."
Tara Kavaler is a politics reporter at The Arizona Republic. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kavalertara.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona attorney general primary 2022 candidate: Abe Hamadeh