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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Why Dems Need More Focus on Secretary of State Races

Looking toward the midterm elections, Louis Jacobson provides a well-researched update, “Secretary of State Races: More Important Than Ever in 2022, and More Complicated, Too” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. As Jacobson writes,

Next year, 27 states will hold elections for secretary of state. With former President Donald Trump continuing to make election fraud the centerpiece of his effort to return to the presidency — despite the lack of any evidence — the outcome of secretary of state races in 2022 will loom larger than ever, because in most states the office oversees election administration….Trump has inserted himself directly in some of these races by endorsing primary candidates in several states.

Handicapping these races is more complicated than usual because if some of the more aggressively pro-Trump candidates end up winning the nomination, they could enable a more promising outlook for Democrats in the general election.

In Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, the general election for secretary of state is likely to be competitive regardless of who the Republican nominee is. In addition, another half-dozen races could be competitive, including Democratic-held seats in Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Jacobson shares insights on each of the 27 races, and concludes,

Several states will hold gubernatorial races in which the winner will be able to appoint the secretary of state.

Two big prizes, Florida and Texas, lean towards GOP holds, while one smaller prize, Maryland, is a good prospect for a Democratic flip. In addition, a few states have their legislature choose the secretary of state, and among those are Maine and New Hampshire, which could have a competitive fight for control in one or both chambers (Democrats control both chambers in Maine, while Republicans control both in New Hampshire).

The biggest prize for a secretary of state appointment, however, could be Pennsylvania. The Keystone State is another highly-competitive Trump-to-Biden state where Trump and his allies sought to overturn the election results. Democrats are all but decided on their gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, while the Republican primary field is large and wide open: It includes candidates with varying degrees of fealty to Trump, including former Rep. Lou Barletta and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has sought an Arizona-style “audit” of Pennsylvania.

With American democracy under unprecedented assault, the integrity of the nation’s Secretaries of State, who will be responsible for enforcing voting rights in the states during the midterm elections, has never been more important. Jacobson’s article provides an excellent update on these races.

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