Former Nevada state Rep. Jim Marchant, a Republican who has spread the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and said he wouldn’t have certified the outcomes, won the GOP secretary of state primary Tuesday night, putting an election denier one step away from overseeing elections in the important thing swing state.
Marchant’s full embrace of the “big lie” concerning the 2020 election won him President Donald Trump’s endorsement, which made him the apparent favorite in a crowded race to switch outgoing Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R), who’s term-limited.
Cegavske defended Nevada’s elections within the wake of the 2020 vote and licensed the outcomes of President Joe Biden’s victory within the state despite Trump’s claims that widespread fraud had marred the outcomes there and in other closely contested states.
Former Nevada state Rep. Jim Marchant has said he wouldn’t have certified the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election and has helped organize an “America first” slate of GOP candidates who’re in search of to take over the country’s election system ahead of the 2024 presidential contest.
Ricardo Torres-Cortez/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File
Marchant’s victory will intensify the threats facing the country’s election system ― and its democracy as a complete ― as GOP election deniers like him seek to win secretary of state positions in key swing states across the country. Those offices could grant conspiracy theorists and opponents of legitimate elections, like Marchant, broad powers over future contests, allowing them to exert control over voting rolls and the way elections are managed, executed and even ultimately certified.
The prevalence of such candidates has generated fears amongst democracy experts and Democrats that Republicans are plotting to undermine the legitimacy of the 2024 election and other future contests.
Marchant, who helped organize an “America first” slate of candidates in search of secretary of state and other election administration positions, has effectively acknowledged that the purpose of those candidacies is to take over the election system ahead of the 2024 contest.
“I can’t stress enough how necessary the secretary of state offices are. I feel they’re crucial elections in our country in 2022. And why is that? We control the election system,” Marchant said at a conference in October, Vice News reported. “In 2022, we’re going to take back our country.”
Marchant has been amongst probably the most ardent and conspiratorial of those candidates. After losing a congressional race to incumbent Rep. Steve Horsford (D) by nearly 5 percentage points in 2020, Marchant baselessly alleged that fraud had marred the outcomes and filed a legal challenge in search of a recent election. A judge dismissed the suit after a transient hearing.
During his secretary of state campaign, he has repeatedly asserted that the 2020 presidential vote was marred by fraud and stolen from Trump. But he hasn’t stopped there: In a February interview with The Washington Post, Marchant implied that a “cabal” had stolen every Nevada election since 2006.
“Once I get in there, I can begin to whittle away on the ways in which they cheat, to the purpose where the people who get elected here in Nevada are who the people of Nevada actually need,” he said. “We haven’t elected anybody here since 2006. They’ve been installed and chosen by the cabal.”
Marchant has worked closely with other conspiracy theorists to link election-denying candidates across the country, speaking at quite a few conferences alongside adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory and other outlandish claims concerning the country’s electoral system. Last yr, he appeared at a conference placed on by Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who claimed that voting machines were hacked by communists to swing the outcomes of the 2020 election, and he circulated a memo arguing that Trump should declare a national emergency to contest the certification of the outcomes.
The “America first” slate Marchant helped organize has held weekly conference calls ahead of an important summer of primaries, The Recent York Times reported this month. They share campaign and messaging strategies, and have proposed a set of potential policies that they’d seek to implement to purge voting rolls, eliminate mail-in ballots and implement other restrictions on voting, the Times reported.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), an election denier who twice voted against certifying the 2020 presidential contest in Congress, lost his secretary of state primary in Georgia last month. But other Republicans have won party endorsements and look like favored in battleground primaries in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota, all of which is able to occur later this yr. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who contested the outcomes of the 2020 election and was outside the U.S. Capitol through the Jan. 6, 2021, rebellion, would have the ability to appoint a secretary of state should he win election in November.
Marchant’s victory in Nevada may buoy the hopes of comparable candidates in looming secretary of state primaries. Even when it doesn’t, it would put him one victory away from assuming control of elections in an important battleground state heading right into a general election by which the political atmosphere will likely favor the GOP. A single secretary of state like him might be powerful enough to throw future elections into chaos and push the country toward a democratic crisis.