Race to oversee elections draws spending avalanche

In 2018, Democrat Katie Hobbs spent $1 million in campaign funds to become Arizona’s secretary of state, narrowly defeating Republican Steve Gaynor. A position that oversees elections.

The record was less than four years old. Candidates for the state’s top electoral positions this year have already matched that total, and will certainly surpass it by Election Day, November 8.

Arizona is no exception. It’s just a dramatic example of how the secretary of state campaign, once a sleepy issue with little attention and little funding, turned into an expensive partisan battle. do not have.

In most states, the secretary of state is the civil servant who oversees the vote, a position that has become increasingly important after former President Donald Trump and his supporters began spreading. election fraud When target the office By encouraging sympathetic candidates to run.

Republican candidates running for secretary of state in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Nevada have reportedly raised at least $3.3 million in total. Democrats opposing them have reported raising more than $10 million in funding, backed by millions of additional dollars in external spending by allied groups.

The secretary of state’s spending on race is setting historic records nationwide, according to Issue One research director Michael Becker. Trump election is a lie It seeks to control the state authorities that oversee elections.

“Clearly, given what happened in 2020, people across the political spectrum are taking a renewed interest in the secretary of state race, and both sides see these positions as important.” Becker said.

In Arizona, Republican Hobbes is currently running for governor, and Democrat Adrian Fontes reports that he has raised more than $2.4 million so far for the election to replace him as secretary of state. Records show that his Republican opponent, Mark, his Finchem State Representative, raised more than $1.8 million.

Arizona’s tally does not include millions of outside spending, mostly by Democrats. They warn that Finchem was present at his Jan. 6, 2021 rally outside the US Capitol. Repeated Trump’s lies about the 2020 election It was stolen and said it would not have proved President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

For some, the growing interest in these posts highlights the risks to America’s unique electoral system, which is overseen by partisan-elected politicians.

“Increasing polarization makes the system more vulnerable,” said Kevin Johnson of the Election Reformer Network. “We were able to rely on structures that did not require high ethical standards from officials, but we managed to create it.”

Now, Mr Johnson warned that Trump supporters believe there are few explicit restrictions on the secretary of state. in contrast to most other democracies, which oversee voting.

“No other democracy elects its leaders,” Mr Johnson said.

In two Democratic-leaning states, nonpartisan electoral administration has been applauded by underdog candidates.

in ColoradoRepublican former county clerk Pam Anderson alleges her opponent, Democratic Secretary of State Jenna Griswold, acted in a way that was too partisan. State of Washington, Independent Julie Anderson is at odds with Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, arguing that the position should be clearly nonpartisan.

In contrast, in Wisconsinmany Republicans angry over Biden’s 2020 state victory are seeking to dissolve the state’s bipartisan election commission and give election control to one or more partisan officials.

The nonpartisan stance is also embraced by some Democratic secretaries of state who carefully draw a line between their party and their jobs. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in an interview this summer that she avoided involvement in the Association of Democratic Secretary of State, chaired by Griswold.

“I’ve seen my colleagues become more partisan, so I feel it goes beyond what is appropriate for me as secretary of state.

Still, she received at least $2.6 million from Democratic groups to fight community college instructor and Republican Cristina Caramo. person who spreads false information Regarding allegations of election fraud since November 2020. Benson himself reports that he has raised over $4 million in his re-election campaign, while Karamo has raised over $900,000 of his.

By trying to prevent candidates who spread false election claims from overseeing the vote, Democrats say they are defending the country’s fundamental principles and say they don’t need to apologize for spending so much. is doing.

“When it comes to our democracy, we can’t take risks. Frankly, our volunteers and donors met in the moment,” said the Democratic Secretary of State, who promised to spend at least $25. Association Executive Director Kim Rogers said. A million in this fall race.

There is no Republican effort to match this. The Republican National Leadership Commission, a group of Republicans involved in secretary of state elections, said it has spent little this year other than helping Georgia Secretary of State Brad Ravensperger get re-elected. Mr. Trump’s demands That he will be declared the winner of that swing state in 2020.

Andrew Romeo, spokeswoman for the Leadership Committee, which also supports Republican candidates for state legislature, said it was the Democrats that were polarizing the voting issue.

“Because Democrats, backed by liberal billionaire donors, want to give up on American democracy and the electoral system that has worked for 200 years, and superimpose these offices on their distant lands. We are spending an unprecedented amount of money on the secretary of state this year, leaving our allies,” Romeo said.

Still, Democrats are Republicans Spent a lot of money on non-campaign election infrastructure in the middle. Conservative donors recruit recruits, train poll watchers Recruit activists at polling stations in November.

It also funds clever documentaries that spread election lies, such as the oft-debunked “2000 Mule,” although the funders don’t have to be identified. Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne told his Associated Press in August: he spent $20 million We are investigating the 2020 election.

Byrne’s spending includes funding an organization called The America Project, which donated $218,000 to a group called Conservatives for Election Integrity.The group was founded by Jim Merchant, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State of Nevada. The organization aims to help coalitions of secretary of state candidates like Marchant question the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. American Project spending accounts for about half of his $429,000 in funding the group reported.

Byrne donated $5,000 to a Michigan merchant and $2,900 to Karamo, according to an Issue One report on campaign funding for election deniers. Other notable funders include Trump’s own political group Save His America PAC, which donated his $5,000 to Karamo, Arizona, and his $5,000 to Finchem. Also, according to the report, Lewis His Topper, who runs a network of fast food restaurant franchises, donated more than $17,000 in total to Finchem, Karamo and Merchant.

Still, it’s small compared to the money on the Democratic side. For example, the Democratic group iVote on Monday announced his $5 million in new spending for Finchem, Arizona. Election Denier Candidate Secretary of State.

Ellen Kurtz, a veteran Democratic operative who runs iVote, said there was no comparison between her group and the groups it funded. election opposition.

“They tell you that if the candidate they chose doesn’t win, they’re going to ignore the will of the people,” she said. Or independents should be able to vote. “


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https://www.news4jax.com/news/politics/2022/10/19/races-to-oversee-elections-draw-an-avalanche-of-spending/ Race to oversee elections draws spending avalanche

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