Key candidates facing opponents who claim Trump won in 2020


The midterms candidates opposing those who claim Trump won in 2020

Should these candidates prevail, it’s far less likely that schemes to overturn the 2024 election will succeed. Here’s a look at some of the key candidates

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Arizona.
Katie Hobbs, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Arizona. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

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Spenser Mestel, Mon 7 Nov 2022 11.43 EST

You’ve probably heard about at least one of the candidates threatening democracy – the people running for office on the baseless premise that the last election was rigged, and that Donald Trump should be president right now.

But what about the ones working to protect and expand access to the ballot?

Especially in the swing states that have become battlegrounds in the fight to maintain a functional democracy, these Democrats – and one Republican – are running to be governors, who play a role in enacting election rules and sometimes appoint the state’s chief election official. They’re running to be secretaries of state, who oversee voting and ballot counting. And they’re running for attorneys general, who are responsible for investigating allegations of fraud handling litigation in high-stakes election suits.

Should these candidates prevail, it’s far less likely that schemes to overturn the 2024 election will succeed. Here’s a look at some of the key candidates:

Katie Hobbs (Arizona, governor)

Hobbs is running to be governor of Arizona, the state with armed vigilantes monitoring drop boxes and the highest percentage of state legislators who took steps to discredit or overturn the 2020 presidential election results. She would most likely serve under a Republican-led legislature, which recently passed laws requiring documentary proof of citizenship to vote by mail or in presidential elections.

Hobbs has served in both chambers of Arizona’s legislature and is currently the secretary of state. After the 2020 election, she was harassed by protesters outside her home and targeted with death threats. If elected, Hobbs says she would work to extend early voting, implement same-day registration, invest in online voter registration, expand vote centers, and designate election day as a state holiday. Arizonans on 8 November will also decide whether to pass a sweeping ballot initiative to “protect the freedom to vote”.

Kris Mayes (Arizona, attorney general)

Kris Mayes.
 Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP

Mayes is a former journalist and now an attorney and professor of practice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. She says she’ll “protect our elections from those who try to overturn the results when they’re simply not satisfied with the outcome, and ensure our election security and ethics are held to the highest standard”.

In March, she filed an amicus brief with the Arizona supreme court opposing the GOP’s attack on mail-in voting, which she says that 90% of Arizonans use and wish to continue using. Her opponent in the race has said he would “secure the 2024 election so when Donald Trump runs and wins again in 2024, everyone will know it’s legitimate”.

Mark Kelly (Arizona, Senate)

Mark Kelly.
 Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Kelly was elected to the US Senate in 2020 and has been a vocal proponent of voting rights while in office. He co-sponsored the Freedom to Vote Act, which would have established election day as a federal holiday, protected early and mail voting options, banned partisan gerrymandering, and increased election security; and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would have re-established Voting Rights Act protections and included the Native American Voting Rights Act. He also expressed support for abolishing the Senate filibuster in order to pass those two pieces of legislation.

Kelly’s opponent in the race has said he believes Trump won in 2020 and that he would have objected to certifying the 2020 election results.

Josh Shapiro (Pennsylvania, governor)

Josh Shapiro.
 Photograph: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Shapiro is currently the attorney general in Pennsylvania, where the Republican-led legislature has proposed dozens of bills to restrict ballot access. In his current role, Shapiro has prosecuted voter fraud and voter intimidation cases. If elected, he’s pledged to veto any efforts to restrict mail-in voting, sign legislation to prohibit firearms in all polling places, establish automatic and same-day voter registration, expand pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and establish early in-person voting. Unlike in many other states, Shapiro would also have the ability to appoint the state’s chief election official.

His opponent hired buses and offered rides to the US Capitol on January 6 and was there himself.

Jocelyn Benson (Michigan, secretary of state)

Jocelyn Benson.
 Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Benson is the current secretary of state in Michigan, where the Republican-led legislature has introduced dozens of bills to restrict access to the ballot, including banning drop boxes and requiring vote counting to stop and results to be reported by noon the day after the election.

In 2020, Benson used $4.2m in federal funding to pre-emptively mail absentee ballot applications to voters, after election day, groups of armed protesters stood outside Benson’s home, shouting obscenities and chanting into bullhorns. Benson’s opponent, Kristina Karamo, said that “egregious crimes” were committed during the 2020 election.

Michiganders will also vote on a ballot initiative that would amend the Michigan constitution to allow nine days of early voting, mandate a certain number of drop boxes, and require canvassing boards to only certify election results based on the official vote counts.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver (New Mexico, secretary of state)

Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
 Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Toulouse Oliver is the incumbent and worked with the governor to introduce a New Mexico Voting Rights Act earlier this year. The legislation didn’t pass but would have expanded online voter registration, provided further protections for Native voters, improved automatic voter registration, automatically restored the voting rights of those convicted of a felony and aren’t incarcerated, and created a permanent, voluntary absentee ballot request list.

After the primaries, she also asked the state supreme court to order a three-member county commission to certify the results after the commission members refused to do so, citing unfounded concerns about Dominion vote-counting machines.

Her opponent has called the 2020 election a “coup”.

Tony Evers (Wisconsin, governor)

Tony Evers.
 Photograph: Reuters

As the incumbent, Evers has repeatedly vetoed legislation from the Republican-led legislature, including bills to ban the use of private election grants, requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering, and adding more requirements to request absentee ballots. He’s also proposed creating automatic voter registration through the department of transportation and expanding early voting.

Evers’ opponent has proposed disbanding the state’s election commission and said he would consider signing legislation to decertify the 2020 election.

Steve Simon (Minnesota, secretary of state)

Steve Simon.
 Photograph: Matthew Hinton/AP

Steve Simon is the incumbent secretary of state and a former legislator who wrote the law making Minnesota a “no excuse” absentee ballot state. In office, he’s increased the number of languages that election materials are translated in from five to 12 and appropriated millions of dollars for drop boxes across the state.

Simon’s opponent has called the 2020 election “rigged” and said that it was “lawless and partisan in nature”.

Rochelle Garza (Texas, attorney general)

Rochelle Garza.
 Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

A former civil rights lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, Garza has committed to creating a fully funded voting rights unit to combat the continued disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities. Her office also helped publicize a voter removal program in one of the state’s counties and has expressed support for mail-in voting.

Her opponent sued to overturn the 2020 election.

Cisco Aguilar (Nevada, secretary of state)

Cisco Aguilar.
 Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty

Aguilar is the special counsel to the chancellor of the Nevada system of higher education. Arizona has been a hotbed of election denial and voter suppression laws, including attempts to increase election observation and repeal a law allowing any person authorized by the voter to return that voter’s ballot. Aguilar says he would modernize, safeguard and strengthen the state’s democracy.

His opponent is linked to the QAnon movement and is part of a far-right coalition of “America First” secretaries of state candidates. On 8 November, Nevadans will also be voting on a radical change to the state’s primary system.

Chelsea Clark (Ohio, secretary of state)

chelsea clark
 Photograph: Courtesy of Chelsea Clark

Clark is a Forest Park city councilwoman, and if she were elected, she’d serve on Ohio’s redistricting commission, which has consistently produced maps that were ruled unconstitutional by the state’s supreme court. Clark would also be the chief election officer, and she’s said she’s against voter purges and in favor of expanding early voting and drop boxes.

Her opponent voted seven times in favor of the unconstitutional maps and has worked to limit voting access.

Phil McGrane (Idaho, secretary of state)

Phil McGrane.
 Photograph: Kyle Green/AP

A Republican, McGrane defeated two outright election deniers in the state’s primary and is almost certain to be elected in the deep-red state. McGrane is currently the clerk of Ada county, the state’s most populous, and he pioneered on-demand ballot printers so that residents can vote early anywhere in the county. Another signature accomplishment is what he calls “food truck voting”, the mobile voting centers that crisscross the county during the 10 days of early voting.

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