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Trump delivers an ultimatum to Brnovich. Here is how he should respond (but alas, won't)

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Former President Donald Trump on Monday issued an ultimatum of sorts to Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“The great Patriots of Arizona are anxiously awaiting the Attorney General’s review of the large-scale Election Fraud that took place during the 2020 Presidential Election,” Trump said, in a statement issued via his Save America PAC. “The findings of the Forensic Audit Report were clear and conclusive.”

The timing, I’m sure, wasn’t lost on Brnovich, who is using his office every which way he can these days to try to rise above the competition in Arizona’s crowded Republican Senate primary.

On Wednesday, Trump is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach for one of Brnovich’s rival and thus far better-funded candidates, Blake Masters.

Uh oh.

Trump’s message to Brnovich: Indict or else

Trump hasn’t yet made an endorsement in the Senate primary but Monday’s message seemed clear – if, indeed, it wasn’t already clear from Trump’s endorsements of Kari Lake for governor and Mark Finchem for secretary of state.

Indict or else.

Start putting high-profile heads on pikes or the attorney general Trump has called “lackluster” can wave a fond farewell to any hope of the former president’s support in the Senate Republican primary.

Which, loosely translated, likely means a fond farewell to any hope of a win and a chance to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

In Trumpland, the only real qualification for holding higher office is fealty to Trump and a certain ability to ignore those pesky things called facts.

You have to believe, as Trump says, that the auditors’ findings of fraud were “clear and conclusive” when, in fact, even the auditors never claimed to have found fraud and even conceded there may be reasonable explanations for the “anomalies” they pinpointed.

You have to believe, as Trump, Lake and Finchem do, that the election can be decertified when, in fact, that’s not even a real thing.

“The Arizona Legislature (and other States!) should, at a minimum, decertify the Election,” Trump said, in putting Brnovich on notice. “The American people deserve an answer, now!”

Now … as in before Trump endorses someone else. Possibly … during his appearance at Masters’ Wednesday fundraiser or soon thereafter?

If he can’t win Trump, why not focus on issues?

Brnovich has opened an investigation into last year’s election but chances seem slim … make that non-existent … that he will find evidence of large-scale fraud warranting major indictments on Trump’s timeline.

Or ever.

Which leaves Brnovich with little choice but to give up that pipedream that he will find favor with Trump and instead move on to topics that the majority of Arizona voters care about.

Like an actual plan to both repair our broken immigration system and get control of the border, building fences where it’s logical to do so and employing technology where it’s not. And oh by the way, requiring that anyone admitted to the country in search of asylum to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Like a strategy to try to get control of inflation before it gallops away, requiring a bank loan to fill your car with gas.

Like a promise to make like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and treat those across the aisle not as enemy combatants but as colleagues. Compromise shouldn’t be a dirty word and love her or hate her, Sinema played a key role in forging one to get something done for the country: a $1.2 trillion investment in roads and bridges and clean water and energy and internet access for all.

If Brnovich is to have any chance at all, he’s going to have to face the fact soon that he isn’t going to get Trump’s endorsement unless he can deliver Trump’s vindication.

Since he can’t, he should move on to delivering for everyday Arizonans.

That may be the only way to win with voters

They don’t care about QAnon or antifa. They care about whether their kids will be able to get a good education. They’ve moved on from the 2020 election to the price of groceries in 2021. The “cancel culture” isn’t uppermost on their minds but they’d sure like to see somebody, anybody come up with a fair and humane plan to deal with the mess at the border.

So be that kind of candidate, Mr. Brnovich.

Political strategists tell me that the Trump brand of Republicanism is the only brand that exists right now. But is that because it is the only thing that voters will accept or because no one else at present is willing to offer an alternative?

It seems to me Brnovich’s best — make that only — way forward is to offer that altnernative. Be that Republican who talks about the economy and education and job creation and leave all the conspiracy talk and the swamp schtick to Lake and Finchem and whomever Trump anoints in the Senate race.

Brnovich may not win the primary. He still may be doomed, given Trump’s GorillaGlue hold on the party faithful.

But at least, come this time next year, he’ll be able to look in the mirror.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: How Mark Brnovich should (but won’t) answer Trump’s election ultimatum