The head of a US coalition of election deniers standing for secretary of state positions in key battleground states has made the most explicit threat yet that they will use their powers, should they win in November, to subvert democracy and force a return of Donald Trump to the White House.
Jim Marchant, who is running in the midterms as the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Nevada, has vowed publicly that he and his fellow coalition members will strive to make Trump president again. Speaking at a Make America Great Again rally in Minden, Nevada, on Saturday night, he repeated the lie that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Trump.
Marchant said he had investigated what he described as the “rigged election” and had discovered “horrifying” irregularities. He provided no details – an official review of the 2020 count in Nevada, which Joe Biden won by 34,000 votes, found no evidence of mass fraud.
Addressing the crowd of Trump supporters, Marchant then went on to pledge that he and his band of election deniers would secure a Trump victory in two years’ time.
“When I’m secretary of state of Nevada, we are going to fix it, and when my coalition of secretary of state candidates around the country get elected we’re going to fix the whole country, and President Trump is going to be president again in 2024,” he said.
Marchant’s comments are certain to heighten jitters ahead of the 8 November midterm elections. Secretaries of state act as the top election officials, and as such can shape how federal elections, including presidential ones, are conducted.
Several virulent advocates of the stolen election lie, many with links to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, have been nominated as Republican secretary of state candidates in swing states that were critical in determining the outcome of the 2020 presidential contest. Theoretically, they could send pro-Trump slates of electors to Congress even were the former president to lose in their states, turning the result on its head.
A similar ruse was tried unsuccessfully in 2020. A repeat effort, were it now made by individuals wielding secretary of state powers, might prove far more effective.
Marchant formed the “coalition of America First secretary of state candidates”, as the group of election deniers call themselves, after he himself lost a 2020 election for a US House seat in Nevada. In an echo of Trump’s falsehood, he claimed victory had been stolen from him.
Marchant pushed for fake Trump electors to be sent from Nevada to Congress to try and subvert the 2020 results. In January, he was asked whether he might try to do the same in 2024, and replied: “That is very possible, yes.”
At Saturday’s rally, Marchant mentioned several other election deniers running as Republican candidates in secretary of state races in November. He named Mark Finchem, who was present at the US Capitol during the January 6 attack and is running in Arizona; Kristina Karamo in Michigan; Audrey Trujillo in New Mexico; and others.
“If we get all of our secretaries of state elected around the country like this, we take our country back,” he said.
With the midterm elections only a month away, alarm is spreading in Democratic circles and among pro-democracy groups about what lies ahead. Several of the election deniers running for secretary of state are proving very viable.
Marchant is ahead by eight points against his Democratic challenger, Cisco Aguilar, a recent Nevada poll showed. In Arizona, a state that has become critical in determining presidential election outcomes, Finchem is registering 49% support among likely voters compared with 45% for the Democratic candidate, Adrian Fontes, a CNN poll found.