Politics

These secretary of state candidates allied with Trump in 2022. Here’s how they fared

Several of the Republican candidates for secretary of state who endorsed by former President Donald Trump lost in the midterm elections on Nov. 8, effectively narrowing any avenue to try to influence the top elections officials in battleground states in the next election.

Jim Marchant, of Nevada; Audrey Trujillo, of New Mexico; Kim Crockett, of Minnesota; Kristina Karamo, of Michigan; and Mark Finchem, of Arizona, are among those defeated by their Democratic opponents after campaigning on the false claims that President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was invalid.

There were 27 secretary of state races on the ballot across the U.S. Although elections for this office don’t usually attract much notice, they garnered more attention in the wake of the 2020 presidential election because the secretary of state is in charge of administering federal and statewide elections. So, during the post-election period, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and asked him “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” and it represented the number that would have overturned Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Raffensperger prevailed over his Trump-backed challenger in the primary in May and won by nine percentage points in the general election. On the whole, the Trump-backed candidates who were election deniers generally underperformed Republicans who ran for other statewide offices. 

Nevada Prepares For Midterm Elections
A billboard for Nevada Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant is attached to a fence beside an advertisement for a gun shop on November 05, 2022 in Pahrump, Nevada.

Mario Tama / Getty Images


Trump-backed Republican Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who ran unopposed, was able to secure his seat as secretary of state. And in Ohio, Chuck LaRose, won his reelection race, though he hasn’t always spoken favorably of the former president.

LaRose has criticized Trump for questioning the validity of the elections in his state and for disparaging mail-in-ballots. In a tweet, LaRose said that his state had been doing mail-in-ballots for a long time pointing out that they know the process and “know how to get it done securely.” But he told Columbus Dispatch about the 2020 election “I think it’s also fair to discuss that there were things that happened in other states that shouldn’t have happened.”

Some of the Trump-endorsed candidates who disputed the validity of the 2020 election said they would change election rules including getting rid of voting machines which could complicate the early voting and mail-in ballots process. Many of them have also mentioned they would change voter registration forms. 

One of the highest-profile races for secretary of state took place in Arizona, where Republican Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker, is projected to have lost his race against  Democrat Adrian Fontes. 

Finchem, who attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 and was outside the Capitol, is a member of the far-right extremist group of the Oath Keepers. He filed an unsuccessful lawsuit with Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor, to hand count every ballot cast in Arizona in 2022. After the 2020 election, he promoted the falsehood that the election had been stolen from Trump and called for the Arizona Legislature to name its own slate of presidential electors. 

CBS News projected Fontes won his race against Finchem on Nov. 11, although he’s not conceding. 

“The fat lady has not sung anything in Arizona yet,” he tweeted on Nov. 17. 

In Nevada, Republican candidate Jim Marchant also said he would be open to sending alternate electors to Congress in 2024, rather than the official electors, in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. Both Marchant and Finchem have repeated  false conspiracy theories espoused by QAnon. 

Marchant started a group called “America First Secretary of State Coalition,” which recruited others who denied Mr. Biden won the 2020 election to run. 

Democrat Jocelyn Benson, the incumbent Michigan secretary of state, defeated Kristina Karamo in her reelection bid. Karamo sued the city of Detroit days before the election to challenge absentee voting, making allegations about drop boxes, signatures and ballot counting. A judge threw out a lawsuit Monday that was challenged in Detroit, saying a Republican candidate for secretary of state failed to produce any evidence of violations. 

“Over an eight-hour evidentiary hearing, no evidence of election law violations,” Wayne County Judge Tim Kenny wrote.

Altogether, 12 Republican candidates for secretary of state across the country cast doubt upon the validity or integrity of the 2020 election, alongside 20 candidates for governor and nine each for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

A CBS News count found at least 185 of the 308 GOP candidates who are projected to win  their midterm races had cast doubt on the validity or integrity of the 2020 election.

The widespread defeat of Trump’s endorsees, both for secretary of state and other offices, has prompted some leading Republicans to question their party’s direction as they look toward the next election in 2024. 

As the battle for control of the House remained tight last week, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called the elections a “funeral” for the current GOP. 


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