Candidates who deny the results of the 2020 election have advanced to November ballots in statewide races for positions that will oversee, defend or certify elections in more than half of the states, according to a nonpartisan group tracking the races.
In the races in 27 states for governor, attorney general and secretary of state, at least one election-denying candidate will be on the ballot who has echoed former President Donald Trump’s continuing false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, according to a report to be published by States United Action, which has closely tracked the progress of election deniers throughout the 2022 primary season.
Many of the general election contests will be competitive races in critical battleground states — among them Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan — whose outcomes could have enormous impacts on the results of the next presidential election in those states.
“The stakes are really high in terms of what’s on the line in 2024,” States United Action CEO Joanna Lydgate said, “with the worst-case scenario [being] that we see an election [result] that doesn’t represent the will of American voters, which is particularly a concern when we have close election results.”
According to the group’s latest “Replacing the Refs” report — the final one documenting the total progress made by election deniers running for governor, attorney general and secretary of state throughout the primary season — at least 43 election deniers running for governor, secretary of state or attorney general will move on to the November election in 27 states. (The group’s final version includes results from the last round of primaries Tuesday, in New Hampshire, Delaware and Rhode Island.)
In three states — Arizona, Michigan and Alabama — election deniers are set to appear on general election ballots in races for all three jobs. The first two are among the states where President Joe Biden eked out his narrowest victories in 2020.
In Arizona, the Republican nominees for the top three statewide offices that administer, defend and oversee elections (Kari Lake, who is running for governor; Mark Finchem, who is running for secretary of state; and Abraham Hamadeh, who is running for attorney general) have all questioned Biden’s presidential victory or falsely said the election was outright stolen from Trump.
In Michigan, the Republican nominees for the same offices — Tudor Dixon for governor, Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state — have said the election was stolen.
Election deniers running for governor will be on November ballots in 18 states, while others running for attorney general will be on fall ballots in 10 states, and election deniers advanced in secretary of state primaries in 12, the States United Action analysis found.
Candidates who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election in their states advanced in recent weeks to the November ballots in Maryland (the GOP nominees for governor and attorney general, Dan Cox and Michael Peroutka), Wisconsin (the GOP nominee for governor, Tim Michels) and Massachusetts (the GOP nominees for governor and secretary of state, Geoff Diehl and Rayla Campbell).
Election deniers also advanced from primaries this year in crucial battleground states like Pennsylvania and Nevada.
The Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, has only doubled down on his false claims about the 2020 election. Pennsylvania’s governor gets to appoint the secretary of state, meaning the top race packs an especially strong punch in terms of the future of honoring election results there.
The Republican nominee for secretary of state in Nevada, Jim Marchant, has said he would not have certified the 2020 results. In the crucial swing state, efforts among Trump allies to overturn the last presidential election have persisted since the race.
“We don’t know how these [general election] races will pan out, but even a single election denier winning office in a single state is a five-alarm fire that puts our democracy at risk,” Lydgate said.