The sore losers of 2020 seek to run in the 2024 vote
Attendees were given the following promise: “We will discuss next steps to prevent the 2022 election from being stolen. You will come away with action items.”
Headlining the women’s group event was Jim Marchant, a Republican candidate for Nevada’s new secretary of state. Marchant, a former Nevada State Assemblyman, lost his 2020 election to the United States House by more than 16,000 votes. He publicly blames the defeat on baseless allegations of voter fraud, for which he has failed to produce evidence in a lawsuit to overturn the result.
“The difference between me and my opponents – I’m the only one who believes there was electoral fraud,” Marchant, 65, said.
“We have to watch the polls. We have to watch people count the votes. We have to challenge the courts,” he told the audience. “So get ready to work.”
CNN was barred from the event, but the owner of Paisan’s had the crew sit nearby in the public section of the restaurant to listen to speeches that took place behind a gray curtain.
Duppenthaler cheered along with the rest of the crowd, mostly older people like herself, as Marchant made every false point and presented made-up data points about the US election process.
“I thought he was excellent. His ideas are in line with MAGA,” Duppenthaler said afterwards, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” platform. For her, having Republicans in power is no longer enough, she wants them to be “supported by Trump”.
“We have people in there who aren’t there for people, they’re there for themselves,” she said.
Holding flyers on how to become a poll worker with his red notebook, Duppenthaler had embraced Marchant’s message that 2020 election deniers should be top election leaders in battleground states.
She had her action point for 2022.
Marchant told women in Reno that as secretary of state he would eliminate all voting machines, early voting and mail-in ballots, without explaining that such measures would come from the state legislature. not the executive.
He said he would seek an anonymous company in Texas to print ballots with new security features – a favorite topic of far-right and fabulist QAnon forums.
“This ballot, you hold it up to a black light. You can see watermarks and holograms,” Marchant said.
In addition to campaigning in Nevada, Marchant said he supports similar campaigns by building what he calls a coalition to fight in other battleground states. That coalition, as Marchant repeated on Trump ally Steve Bannon’s podcast and at a QAnon-themed conference in Las Vegas last summer, is made up of Republican candidates for Secretary of State. Trump-approved states in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.
Trump endorsed Karamo’s campaign.
Karamo did not return multiple phone calls from CNN for an interview or respond directly to an in-person request made through his family. Instead, she posted the CNN reporter’s business card to her Facebook page, writing, “I won’t be intimidated.”
In Arizona, another Trump-backed candidate, Mark Finchem, is also running for secretary of state. He spoke at Trump’s first rally in 2022, saying, “We know it and they know it: Donald Trump has won!”
Alarm bells elsewhere
Campaigns for state races that were flying largely under the radar are having many sit up and take notice in 2022.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher. We’re code red for American democracy,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat. She is president of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.
“We’re seeing a coordinated effort by hardline Republicans to undo American democracy. And part of that effort is winning those key state, secretary of state seats. And secretaries of state are the one of the last stopping points to safeguard democracy”, Griswold mentioned.
Democrats are taking action by raising $4.5 million for those races last year, a record for the group.
The importance of these state offices has become crystal clear in disputed states in 2020, said Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg. “Under the stress of the 2020 election results and the unprecedented attack on the accuracy of the results, Secretaries of State have had to step in in ways they historically never have to, in order to validate the accuracy of the results.
In the 2022 GOP primaries, Ginsberg sees the fiercest battle for democracy unfold in broad daylight. “In 2022, state race secretaries are being used as surrogate races to validate or disprove the big lie of 2020,” he said.
“As a Republican, I’m very concerned about the future of popular credibility and elections, that the role of secretary of state — a nonpartisan electoral role, where you have to call balls and strikes — becomes so politicized. is a bottomless pit from which none of the political parties would emerge unscathed.”
Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters, a left-leaning nonprofit media watchdog, is clear in his warning about what could happen to American democracy. “The scaffolding is being built in plain sight,” he said.
Carusone said what he sees is the normalization of these extreme Holocaust deniers as part of a path that could “very likely lead to a constitutional crisis or a total undermining of our democratic standards and systems.”
“This cauldron of extremism and misinformation is fueled by social media,” Carusone said. “It created a lot of kinetic energy that is now part of more mainstream politics. It’s both an early warning system and a wake-up call for fires that are already breaking out. Acceptance of the results will no longer be tolerated, unless they align themselves with what this industry wants.”
Back in Reno, Marchant’s event was motivating not only for Duppenthaler but for many of the women who attended the Reno Republican Women’s Reunion.
“State-to-state algorithms reveal the facts,” Linda Park said after the two-hour disinformation event. “You would have to be ignorant not to see what is going on. There was so much fraud in this last election.”
Fellow Republican Women of Reno member Chris Johnson said she walked away from Marchant’s event, believing she had found the solution to her dismay at the 2020 election.
“I think he knows what he’s doing,” Johnson said of Marchant. “I believe in his efforts and fully support him.”