mcloudyn.png
Saturday August 13th, 2022 5:05AM

Election skeptics roil GOP contests for secretary of state

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was clear in the months after the 2020 presidential election.

"Elections are run better and more honestly than really I think they ever have been,” he said in response to conspiracy theories being floated about the election. Months later, he said in an interview what has proved true in state after state - that voter fraud is rare.

Fast forward to 2022, when Republican secretaries of state face a delicate test with voters: Touting their work running clean elections while somehow not alienating GOP voters who believe the false claims of fraud fueled by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

LaRose has shifted his tone on Twitter, recently saying the “mainstream media is trying to minimize voter fraud to suit their narrative” and “President Donald Trump is right to say that voter fraud is a serious problem.”

That tweet came a day after LaRose learned he had drawn not one but two primary challengers, both of whom have said they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

All but one of the eight incumbent Republican secretaries of state seeking to continue as their state's elections chief have drawn at least one GOP challenger who either outright denies Democrat Joe Biden won the presidency or makes unsubstantiated claims that elections are not secure.

That raises the prospect that the nation’s voting process will become further politicized if candidates who embrace conspiracy theories or promote without evidence the false narrative of widespread fraud win races for offices such as secretary of state, which play critical roles in managing elections and are intended to be neutral.

Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state from Kentucky who has been outspoken against the efforts to delegitimize the 2020 presidential results, said some of the incumbent GOP secretaries need room to maneuver politically so they can defeat opponents within their own party who might seek to undermine fair elections if they win.

“These are guardians of democracy," he said. "Their opponents are people who don’t show respect for the law or evidence or the vote-counting process. They are willing to ignore counts, willing to ignore safeguards we have in the system. In some cases, they are just making stuff up.”

Trump’s false claims have led to restrictive voting laws in Republican-controlled states, partisan election reviews, voting system security breaches and now a wave of candidates seeking to take over election administration at the state and local levels.

In addition to Ohio, Republican secretaries of state in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota are seeking to remain in office. Only Iowa’s Paul Pate is running unopposed.

In Alabama, Idaho, Nevada and North Dakota, the GOP incumbents have opted against seeking reelection or are term-limited, leaving open contests. Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan has yet to announce his plans.

Democratic secretaries are running to keep their seats in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington. So far, only one has drawn a Democratic challenger.

The job of secretary of state has tended to attract candidates focused more on process than politics. The races are typically low-key contests overshadowed by campaigns for governor and state attorney general.

That changed after Trump disputed his loss and decided to target election officials in political battleground states, sometimes pressuring them to reverse his loss. In one instance, Trump made a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win.

Raffensperger didn’t cede to Trump’s demands and has defended Georgia’s election in a re-election bid this year where he faces three primary challengers. He has sought to counter them by touting his conservative credentials, downplaying differences with Trump and wooing primary voters with a call to ban non-citizen voting. He also has pointed to his efforts to include a photo ID requirement for mail ballots as part of a sweeping election bill passed by lawmakers last year.

At a recent rally in Georgia, Trump blasted Raffensperger as a “lousy secretary of state.” In an interview, Raffensperger said he has been working to counter the continuing misinformation and disinformation campaigns.

“We checked every allegation; I made sure we did,” Raffensperger said. “I stand on the truth, and no one has been stronger on election integrity than me.”

Trump has endorsed one of Raffensperger's opponents, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice. Hice objected to Georgia’s electoral votes being counted for Biden, despite a lack of any evidence of widespread fraud or tampering. Georgia’s 5 million votes cast for president were counted three times, including once by hand.

Hice has been leading all candidates in fundraising and is part of a new group called the “America First Secretary of State Coalition,” organized by Jim Marchant, a former state lawmaker who is running for the open secretary of state seat in Nevada.

The group, which also includes Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona and Michigan, has among other things advocated for limits on mail voting.

Trump won Kansas with 56% of the vote, and the state had no significant problems with its 2020 elections. Even so, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab is facing a Republican primary opponent.

Schwab has pushed back on conspiracy theories and potentially angered many GOP voters in doing so. After a recent hearing in which lawmakers heard from Trump allies making false claims about the 2020 election, he wrote the committee to say the testimony “sought to undermine confidence in our county election officers, election results, and the longstanding systems used to securely conduct elections in Kansas.”

Despite any evidence of problems with Kansas' elections, Schwab's Republican opponent, Mike Brown, has called for tougher rules on drop boxes and mail ballots, supports partisan ballot reviews and wants ballots printed on special paper. He said Schwab hasn’t been vigilant when it comes to protecting elections.

Schwab downplayed the criticism and said he has an open line to Trump.

“If he’s got concerns, you know, the president’s team can call our office and say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you about the 2020 election,’ but they don’t because they know there’s no concerns,” Schwab said.

He and some other incumbents have tried a delicate balance in messaging as they seek to retain their seats — touting election performance in their own state while hinting vaguely at election problems elsewhere.

In South Dakota, Secretary of State Steve Barnett defended the work of his office and blamed “disinformation, misinformation, mal-information” for lowering voter confidence nationwide.

“I can only speak to what went on in South Dakota,” he said. “I can’t speak to what happened in these other states.”

Barnett's challenger, Monae Johnson, said she was “answering the call of concerned citizens” to run and criticized Barnett for sending absentee ballot applications during the pandemic and supporting online voter registration.

In Ohio, LaRose’s pro-Trump statements haven't stopped his GOP challenger, former state lawmaker John Adams, from claiming that he hasn’t taken election integrity seriously; a second primary challenger was disqualified for paperwork errors.

Adams told a group of Republicans gathered recently at a sports bar in suburban Columbus that “there’s no way that Trump lost,” likening LaRose to Georgia Democrat Stacy Abrams for his positions in favor of ballot access. LaRose says Adams is basing his campaign on “conspiracy theories and nonsense,” but brushed aside questions about whether his own rhetoric had shifted.

All this has left many GOP primary voters conflicted. Lyle Adcock, 72, a semi-retired computer sales representative who listened to Adams at the sports bar, said he has always trusted Ohio elections but now isn't sure what to think.

“It’s not like I feel my vote doesn’t count, but I wonder if there is any of this fraud,” he said.

Asked who he was supporting in the secretary of state’s race, Adcock said he hadn't yet decided.

___

Cassidy reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Election skeptics roil GOP contests for secretary of state
Republican state election officials in several states are having to defend their records as they face challengers from within their own party who either outright deny that Democrat Joe Biden won the presidency or raise unsubstantiated claims that elections are not secure
1:29PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Pandemic took a toll on teen mental health, US study says
New research says more than 4 in 10 U.S. high school students said they felt persistently sad or hopeless during the pandemic
1:26PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Report: State late in response to unrest after Floyd killing
An external review of Minnesota’s response to days of civil unrest following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd found several weaknesses, including a lack of clear leadership early on as businesses were being destroyed and set ablaze
1:07PM ( 40 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Defense rests in trial of 4 men in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
The defense has rested and evidence is over in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
1:43PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Got a dime? Businesses seek Treasury help with coin shortage
Got a spare dime
1:42PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Biden: Government standing up to 'hateful' transgender bills
President Joe Biden says his administration is “standing up” for transgender Americans against what he's calling “hateful bills” being passed by states
1:38PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden tapping oil reserve for 6 months to control gas prices
President Joe Biden is ordering the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve for six months in a bid to control energy prices
1:08PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Ukraine: Russians leaving Chernobyl after radiation exposure
Ukraine's state-owned nuclear power company says Russian forces have began leaving the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power plant
1:01PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Hermit a no-show at disputed woodlot hearing, faces fines
A former hermit in New Hampshire who went back to live on the wooded property he was ordered to leave realizes that his time there is drawing to a close — but he appears willing to keep fighting against his removal for now
12:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Israel raids West Bank, 2 Palestinians killed in gun battle
Israeli forces have raided a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, setting off a gun battle
11:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden taps oil reserve for 6 months to control gas prices
President Joe Biden is ordering the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve for six months in a bid to control energy prices
10:56AM ( 2 hours ago )
Stocks edge lower, oil slides ahead of release of crude
Stocks edged lower in morning trading on Wall Street Thursday and oil prices fell as President Joe Biden prepares to order the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve
10:32AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
LGBTQ group sues Florida over so-called 'Don't Say Gay' law
Gay rights advocates are suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to block a new law forbidding classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade
10:03AM ( 3 hours ago )
Defendant takes witness stand in Gov. Whitmer kidnap trial
One of the four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is testifying in his own defense
9:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
Severe storms pummel South after 7 hurt in Arkansas tornado
Severe storms packing isolated tornadoes and high winds are racing across the Deep South, leaving scattered damages to buildings and homes in their path
7:32AM ( 6 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
DNC, Clinton campaign agree to Steele dossier funding fine
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee have agreed to pay $113,000 to settle a Federal Election Commission investigation
10:47AM ( 3 hours ago )
GOP's Senate campaign chief won't back down from party fight
Florida Sen. Rick Scott is barely halfway through his first term, but he's already leaning into a fight against his own party’s leadership
3:07PM ( 22 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: What the law says about presidential records
Revelations of a roughly eight-hour gap in official records of then-President Donald Trump’s phone calls on the day of last year’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are raising fresh questions about the diligence — or lack thereof — of the White House’s record keeping
1:52PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Elections
Scavino, Navarro face contempt vote from Jan. 6 committee
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is pushing ahead with contempt charges against two men who served as advisers to former President Donald Trump
4:51PM ( 2 days ago )
Judge: Trump likely committed crimes related to election
A federal judge has asserted it is “more likely than not” that former President Donald Trump committed crimes in his attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election
4:02PM ( 2 days ago )
Judge OKs emails to Jan. 6 panel, sees likely Trump crimes
A federal judge has ordered the release of more than 100 emails from Trump adviser John Eastman to the House committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
12:44PM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
Takeaways: Civil rights, Trump close out Jackson hearing
The historic Senate hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who's the first Black woman nominated for the Supreme Court, have been joyful, combative and clarifying
4:52PM ( 6 days ago )
Takeaways: Jackson hearing closes with Trump, civil rights
The historic Senate hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who's the first Black woman nominated for the Supreme Court, have been joyful, combative and clarifying
2:09PM ( 6 days ago )
Takeaways: Jackson hearing shows breadth of partisan divide
The historic Senate hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who's the first Black woman nominated for the Supreme Court, have been joyful, combative and clarifying
1:30PM ( 1 week ago )
General Presidential Election News
MASTERS '22: Brief look at 10 (or 11) contenders at Augusta
The group of contenders at the Masters is getting longer as golf is getting deeper
12:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
MASTERS '22: Facts & figures for the 86th Masters Tournament
The 86th Masters is here with a few notable changes
12:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
MASTERS '22: Anticipations of roars, and plenty of mystery
The anticipation is greater than ever for the return of roars to Augusta National
12:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Greitens accusations revive GOP worries about Senate bids
Accusations that Missouri Senate Republican candidate Eric Greitens physically assaulted members of his family have added fresh urgency to a GOP push to ensure the party doesn’t nominate candidates who are so damaged that they put otherwise safe seats in play
6:05PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump rescinds Brooks endorsement in Senate race in Alabama
Former President Donald Trump has rescinded his endorsement of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks in Alabama’s Republican primary for Senate, dealing a major blow to the congressman’s campaign
4:58PM ( 1 week ago )
Pence distances himself from Trump as he eyes 2024 campaign
Mike Pence spent more than four years standing in President Donald Trump’s shadow, refusing to criticize or allow sunlight between them
3:16PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Defense rests in trial of 4 men in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
The defense has rested and evidence is over in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
1:43PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Biden: Government standing up to 'hateful' transgender bills
President Joe Biden says his administration is “standing up” for transgender Americans against what he's calling “hateful bills” being passed by states
1:38PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Pandemic took a toll on teen mental health, US study says
New research says more than 4 in 10 U.S. high school students said they felt persistently sad or hopeless during the pandemic
1:26PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Kremlin demands rubles for gas, leaves currency loophole
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree demanding payment for natural gas in rubles but appeared to temper the order by allowing dollar and euro payments through a designated bank
1:24PM ( 24 minutes ago )