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Decisions on Down-Ballot Races Loom Large for 2024 | Elections

In the crucial down-ballot races for secretary of state and attorney general – contests that could influence how the 2024 elections are administered – many of the candidates who expressed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election have lost, although key contests such as those in Arizona and Nevada remain to be decided.

In this year’s secretary of state races, mainstream Republicans who faced credible Democratic competition tended to win. The winners included Brad Raffensperger, who rebuffed then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, and Iowa’s incumbent secretary of state, Paul Pate.

But several Republican secretary of state candidates who expressed questions about the validity of the 2020 election lost to Democrats. These include Kim Crockett in Minnesota, who lost to Incumbent Democrat Steve Simon; Kristina Karamo, who lost to Michigan incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson; and Audrey Trujillo, who lost to New Mexico incumbent Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver. In each case, the Democrat prevailed by double-digit margins.

The fates of two other high-profile election deniers – Arizona’s Mark Finchem and Nevada’s Jim Marchant – were unclear, as both were in tight races that, like other key races in those states, were not ready to be called by the morning after the election.

The one clear victory by a secretary of state candidate who had expressed doubts about the 2020 election was Diego Morales in Indiana. Despite a string of bad press on various personal and professional issues, Morales was able to win in his solidly red state by a 14-point margin in a three-way contest.

Another exceedingly tight contest was in Wisconsin, where long-serving incumbent Democrat Doug La Follette was locked in a close race with Republican Amy Loudenbeck. (In Wisconsin, the secretary of state does not oversee elections, however.)

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Also unresolved is the race in Washington state, an all-mail-balloting state where tallying the votes takes time. There, incumbent Steve Hobbs, a Democrat who had been appointed to fill a previously Republican vacancy, was narrowly leading Julie Anderson, who is running as an independent.

Meanwhile, the attorney general contests showed similar patterns to the secretary of state races, although the Republican candidates were faring somewhat better.

In Kansas, Kris Kobach – whose outspoken conservatism may have cost him the governorship four years ago – appears to have made a comeback by narrowly winning the AG race, even as the woman who defeated him in the gubernatorial race, Democrat Laura Kelly, won a second term.

In Iowa, long-serving Democratic incumbent Tom Miller appears to have lost to Republican Brenna Bird, also by a narrow margin. And in Texas, GOP incumbent Ken Paxton survived a series of professional controversies with relative ease, winning by double digits.

On the Democratic side, vulnerable Minnesota AG Keith Ellison appears to have pulled out a narrow victory, while in Michigan, Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel defeated Trump-aligned Republican Matthew DePerno by a mid-single-digit margin. In Wisconsin, incumbent Democratic AG Josh Kaul was leading his race narrowly.

The remaining uncalled AG races will help determine whether Trump-aligned candidates can pull off victories in the 2022 midterms. In Arizona, where there is an open seat, Democrat Kris Mayes and Republican Abraham Hamadeh were locked in a tight contest. So were the candidates in Nevada, Democratic incumbent Aaron Ford and Republican Sigal Chattah.

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