“What Happens When Politicians Who Oversee Elections Are Also the Candidates?”


It was only a week ago that Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida and candidate for the United States Senate, claimed on television that “rampant fraud” was perhaps imperiling his election to Congress, and that he was asking the state Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.

Earlier in the day, at the Georgia State Capitol, Secretary of State Brian Kemp defended his decision to oversee an acrimonious election in which he was a candidate for governor and, by his own preliminary assessment, a victorious one.

The elections in the Southeast’s two most populous states remained undecided Wednesday, more than a week after the balloting, embroiled in lawsuits and accusations. Much of the turmoil is attributable to the high-profile political prizes at stake. But some can be traced to decisions by Mr. Scott and Mr. Kemp to mix, by design or duty, their public roles with their political lives.

That two powerful Republicans helped to oversee elections in which they had overwhelming personal interests prompted bipartisan misgivings, fueled some of the sparring that has spilled into the courts and intensified the most stinging criticisms of their campaigns. Their approaches to navigating the thicket of runoffs and recounts, litigation and delayed certifications, show that there is no set playbook for candidates whose political fates are up for grabs.


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