A number of diehard Donald Trump loyalists are aggressively campaigning in several secretary of state races. If successful, they’ll be in a position to undermine the 2024 election and coddle Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theories.
“At stake, say Democrats and others concerned about fair elections, is nothing less than American democracy,” writes The Associated Press.
States United Action, a nonpartisan advocacy organization co-founded by former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, has identified nearly two dozen GOP candidates for secretary of state roles who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“If they win the general election, we’ve got real problems on our hands,” Whitman said. “This is an effort to replace the people who oversee these races — to change the rules to make the results come out the way they want them to.”
Whitman has been a high-profile Republican for decades, but has aggressively criticized Trump’s election lies.
The AP adds:
This year, the most high-profile races will unfold in four of the six states where Trump disputed his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Michigan. Trump has endorsed secretary of state candidates in all but one, backing those who support his false claims.
FiveThirtyEight provides context on the Georgia race:
The list of secretary of state elections to watch starts with Georgia, where Raffensperger first faces a tough primary from Rep. Jody Hice. While Raffensperger has made it clear there was no election fraud in Georgia and that Biden won the state, his challenger Hice voted against the certification of the 2020 election in the House. He also continued to baselessly claim that hundreds of thousands of potentially fraudulent votes were cast and that Trump, in fact, carried Georgia. (He didn’t.) Hice isn’t the only election denier in the race, though: Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle has claimed there were “irregularities” in the 2020 election, too.
It’s still early, but Hice looks like the primary front-runner. Through the end of January, he has raised $1.6 million to Raffensperger’s $597,000 and Belle Isle’s $376,000, and he has the golden ticket in any GOP nomination fight: Trump’s endorsement. But his path to the secretary of state’s office is not clear in this newly minted swing state. Whichever Republican emerges from the primary will then face a tough general election against the well-funded ($1.1 million raised so far) Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen in November.
In a February 2021 piece, FiveThirtyEight adds:
The most vulnerable Democrat is likely Jocelyn Benson of Michigan. And unlike in most states, her Republican challenger will be chosen at a party convention, not a primary, which could lead to a more radical nominee who appeals to party diehards. That’s good news for college professor Kristina Karamo, who has Trump’s endorsement.
Karamo became a right-wing celebrity when she claimed she witnessed fraud as a poll watcher in the 2020 election, and she has espoused conspiracy theories such as that Trump actually won Michigan and that the Jan. 6 rioters were actually members of antifa.
The Michigan Republican Party nominated Karamo in late April. Tony Daunt, a state Republican committee member, quickly resigned in protest.
“Feckless, cowardly party ‘leaders’ have made the election here in Michigan a test of who is the most cravenly loyal to Donald Trump and litigating the results of the 2020 cycle,” Daunt wrote in a resignation letter.
The AP highlights a contentious race in Colorado:
Another high-profile race is unfolding in Colorado, where a Republican county clerk under indictment for a security breach of voting systems is running to challenge Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat seeking a second term.
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has denied the charges, calling them politically motivated. She has been a frequent guest on conservative media and appeared at various events with Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and Trump ally who has sought to prove voting machines were somehow manipulated in 2020.
“Americans are going to have a very simple choice — do we want people overseeing elections who believe in upholding the will of the voter regardless of how they voted?” Griswold told the AP. “Or do we want extremist politicians who will do anything it takes to tilt elections in their favor and claim victory regardless of how the American people cast their ballot?”