Backers of Trump’s false claims seek to control next elections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – One leading candidate seeking to become Georgia’s chief elections official, Republican Jody Hice is a Congressman who voted to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win in the hours after the January 6 riots at the United States Capitol.
Hice had posted on social media earlier that day: “This is our 1776 moment,” referencing the American Revolution.
In Arizona, the contenders for the elections-chief office, secretary of state, include Republican state lawmaker Mark Finchem, who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally before the deadly insurrection and spoke at a similar gathering the previous day.
In Nevada, one strong Republican candidate for elections chief is Jim Marchant, who unsuccessfully sued to have his own defeat in a 2020 congressional race reversed based on unfounded voter-fraud claims.
The three candidates are part of a wider group of Republican secretary-of-state contenders in America’s swing states who have embraced former U.S. president Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost a “rigged” election.
Their candidacies have alarmed Democrats and voting-rights groups, who fear that the politicians who tried hardest to undermine Americans’ faith in elections last year may soon be the ones running them – or deciding them – in future contested votes.
Jena Griswold, chairman of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State and Colorado’s top elections official, said the secretary-of-state races reflect a much broader exploitation of phony voter-fraud claims by Republicans seeking all levels of elected office.
“That is ‘code red’ for democracy,” she said in an interview.
Secretary-of-state candidates face primary elections next spring and summer and general elections on November 8, 2022, along with the mid-term congressional contests.
Reuters interviewed nine of the 15 declared Republican candidates for secretary of state in five battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada – and reviewed public statements by all of the candidates.
Ten of the 15 have either declared that the 2020 election was stolen or called for their state’s results to be invalidated or further investigated.
Only two of the nine candidates Reuters interviewed said that Biden won the election.