Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Secretaries of State: a cascade of dangerous Republican crackpots

In most states, an elected Secretary of State administers elections; it's a lot of work and relatively low profile. For example, here in California, that's incumbent Shirley Weber who is running to stay in the job in November.

This year, in states that are expected to be battlegrounds between Dems and GOPers, some mighty sketchy kooks are trying to implant themselves in the system in anticipation of their Orange God/King (h/t Charlie Sykes) running in 2024. It's not pretty and it's dangerous. (Not all the members of this gallery of rogues have yet won their primaries, but the outlook is clear.)

Here's a rundown:

Arizona: The presumptive Republican nominee (primary August 2) is Mark Finchem. His website (I'm not linking to these nutjobs) declares:

Since my very first election, I knew something was very wrong with our elections process. Major defects such as chain-of-custody of ballots, hidden contributions, and expensive unnecessary technology have contributed to the decay of public confidence in our elections. Then on November 3rd, 2020, the unthinkable happened: Americans witnessed real-time reallocation of votes from one candidate to another, broadcast on national television.
Finchem is not only a QAnon believer, he was present at the January 6 Capitol insurrection. It's not clear whether he was among the mob breaching the building. He's Trump-endorsed, naturally.

Two normie Democrats, Reginald Bolding and Adrian Fontes, are running to oppose Finchem in the primary.

Michigan: The incumbent Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, is seeking reelection despite death threats when Biden prevailed in 2020. Kristina Karamo is the presumptive Republican nominee.
... the Oak Park Republican skyrocketed to fame in conservative circles after claiming she witnessed fraud at Detroit’s absentee counting board while working as a poll challenger in November 2020. ... Karamo referred to herself as an “anti-vaxxer,” opposed the teachings of evolution in schools, likened abortion to human sacrifice and said LGBT people and those who have sex outside of marriage “violate God's creative design” and are indicative of a culture of “sexual brokenness.”
Michigan GOPers and the Donald think she's their kind of gal.

Nevada: Silver State Republicans joined the Secretary of State clown car in the June primary, nominating Jim Marchant for the office. The Nevada Independent reported:
Telling Republicans their votes haven’t counted for diddly-squat due to rampant fraud, then asking them to go cast a ballot, seems a bit counterintuitive for a “get out the vote” campaign. And yet, among at least some Republicans, that has been the message during much of the 2022 primaries. In February, Republican candidate for secretary of state, Jim Marchant, told a crowd in Reno that their vote “hasn't counted for decades.”  
“You haven't elected anybody. The people that are in office have been selected. You haven't had a choice,” Marchant said.

Trump likes this guy too. The normie Democrat running for the open office is Cisco Aguilar.

Georgia: Brad Raffensberger, the Republican incumbent Secretary of State, unexpectedly won his May primary to keep to his office over a Trump-endorsed challenger. He withstood Trump's pressure to "find 11,780 votes" to defeat Biden in 2020. Death threats followed. He is favored to keep the job, however a state law since passed removed the position of state election board chair from the Georgia Secretary of State's duties. He no longer has as much power as he did in 2020.

Senator Raphael Warnock and governor candidate Stacey Abrams will have to win indisputably in fall 2022 to overcome the obstacles state Republicans have erected to free and fair voting.

Pennsylvania: They don't have an elected secretary of state to run elections in Pennsylvania. The job is appointed, so the issue of who runs the 2024 election will be determined by who wins the governor's race this fall. State Republicans have nominated a real doozy. Doug Mastriano is another insurrectionist who has been subpoenaed by the January 6 investigation. There's video showing him crossing Capital police lines, though what else he did in not known.

He’s a first-term state senator who was relatively unknown — until Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, in large part by narrowly losing Pennsylvania to Joe Biden. ... [He] rose to prominence in the aftermath of the 2020 election by falsely claiming Trump won the state. Mastriano also helped commission an unauthorized audit of voting machines in a rural county ...
Wisconsin: In this very contested state, elections are administered not by an elected official, but by a bipartisan regulatory agency, the Wisconsin Elections Commission. This supposedly neutral agency has been the location of complicated infighting over false Republican assertions that the 2020 election was fraudulent. UpNorthNews reported on the commission and former Attorney General Bill Barr's recorded testimony to the January 6 commission:
In a video played Monday during the second public hearing of a special congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, former President Donald Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr laughs and scoffs at claims that cell phone data proves there was voter fraud in Wisconsin in the 2020 election. ... 
[In response to these claims] Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) member Ann Jacobs mentioned [in a meeting] that the drop box at one Milwaukee library is directly below an apartment building—filled with digital pings from cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, and other devices from people not physically using the drop box. 
In February, Assembly Elections Committee Chair Michelle Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) turned the committee’s time over to a presentation from someone convicted of fraud who was claiming numerous irregularities with the state’s voter database. Only a week later did Brandtjen schedule time for WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe and Technology Director Robert Kehoe to refute the baseless claims. 
“Making unverified, fantastical claims without consulting real election officials has the effect of diverting lawmakers and the public from tracking real issues in need of improvement,” Kehoe told the committee. “That could end up causing real harm to Wisconsin elections.”
Wisconsin election administrators will face constant pressure so long as Republicans are making false assertions about voting.


Bonnie said...

I'm sorry I couldn't read all of your post. I'm scared to death for our future. I've been following the Jan 6th committee and wonder if any of those who need their eyes opened are.

janinsanfran said...

Bonnie: being scared for our future is appropriate, not overblown, as today's (Thursday 6-16) Jan. 6 hearing made completely clear. All we can do is what we can where we are; every form of community solidarity helps at the margins.