In a normal election year, races for secretary of state are sleepy affairs, and their campaigns struggle for media coverage amid the hurly-burly of more prominent Senate, governor and House contests.
This year, however, is anything but normal.
Democrats are pouring millions of dollars into races for secretary of state, buoyed by the nature of their Republican opponents and the stakes for American democracy.
According to an analysis by my colleague Alyce McFadden, Democrats in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada have outraised their Republican opponents as of the most recent campaign finance reports. And overall, Democratic-aligned groups working on secretary of state races in those four states have outspent Republicans by nearly $18 million in this election cycle, according to the ad analytics firm AdImpact, with more spending on the way.
The role of a secretary of state varies, but in those four states, as well as Arizona and Pennsylvania (where the governor appoints the secretary), they play a critical role in overseeing the mechanics of elections. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, for example, they often had to make judgment calls about how to ensure that voters had access to the polls when vaccines were not yet available, making elderly and immunocompromised Americans concerned about showing up in person.
Many of the Republicans running in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada have earned national notoriety.
Take Mark Finchem, a cowboy-hat-and-bolo-tie-wearing Arizona lawmaker running for secretary of state. He crushed his G.O.P. rivals in the primary by whipping up fears about a stolen election in 2020.
In a recent interview with Time magazine, Finchem said it was a “fantasy” that President Biden won in 2020 — even though he was elected by more than seven million votes nationwide.
“It strains credibility,” Finchem said. “Isn’t it interesting that I can’t find anyone who will admit that they voted for Joe Biden?”…