Last Tuesday turned out to be the best mid-term elections for the party in power in 20 years, thwarting the so-called Red Wave. Republicans, Trumpists, and election deniers had been salivating over the prospect of getting massive wins in the Senate and House of Representatives and state offices and that simply did not happen.
Some of those down ballot races for state offices were very important. Take Nevada. Democrat Cisco Aguilar, who had never run for elected office before, defeated Trump-endorsed election denier Republican Jim Marchant for the position of secretary of state. This is important because the secretary of state oversees state elections and Marchant was the founder of an organization called America First Secretary of State Coalition that consists of seven election deniers running for similar positions in other states that sought to restrict access to the ballot as part of their effort to make sure that Republicans win.
Aguilar, an attorney and first-time candidate, cast himself as a bulwark against Marchant, who had intimated that he would try to make it easier for Trump to win his state in a comeback run for president.
“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,” Marchant said at a Trump-hosted rally in Nevada in early October.
“The secretary of state’s job is to protect democracy by keeping our elections fair and transparent,” Aguilar said in his most-played general election TV ad.
Six of the seven members of this so-called coalition of election deniers in key battleground states also lost, including of of the craziest of all, Mark Finchem in Arizona. He is, of course, crying fraud after he lost because that is the new normal.
One of the things that I realized after election day and the results started coming in was how much media attention was focused on the Republican crazies who were running for office at the statewide level, so much so that I was very familiar with their names and images while their Democratic opponents were much less familiar. This coverage was mostly negative in most of the sources that I read because these people were definitely wacko so it was not as if their candidacies were being positively promoted. But by focusing so much on them and increasing their name recognition, I wonder how many votes they might have got because low-information voters may have voted for a name they were familiar with even though they did not know anything about them and may have even disliked their policies if they. knew.
Take for example two races in Arizona. The Republican candidate for secretary of state Mark Finchem is one of the most extreme of election deniers who even attended the January 6, 2021 riot and has stated that if he had been secretary of state at the time, he would not have certified the slate of electors that Joe Biden won. He was all over the news and I could recognize him on sight. Well, he lost narrowly, and I realized with some embarrassment that I had never heard the name of the person who defeated him, Democrat Adrian Fontes, or seen any photo of him.
The victory of Adrian Fontes, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state in Arizona, may come to be seen as one of the most significant results of the 2022 elections in terms of the future of American democracy.
Fontes, a former Marine, managed to fend off one of the most contentious Republican election deniers in a bitterly fought and exceedingly close race. His opponent, Mark Finchem, is a state lawmaker who has been a member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia and was present at the US Capitol on the day of the 6 January 2021 insurrection.
Finchem has made repeated efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Arizona in the 2020 election, in favor of his idol Donald Trump.
As Arizona’s secretary of state-elect, Fontes will now become second in line of succession to the governor. He will be in a strong position to influence how elections are conducted in the state, including the presidential race in two years’ time in which Trump has indicated he is minded to stand again.
In his bid to voters, Fontes promised that were he to win he would preserve mail-in voting, a popular way of casting ballots in Arizona that Finchem had threatened to restrict claiming without evidence that it was riddled with fraud.
I am also very familiar with the name and image of Kari Lake, another election-denying extremist running for governor in Arizona. She is trailing her Democratic challenger, secretary of state Katie Hobbs, whom I had barely heard of and did not know what she looked like.
Then there was Nevada’s senate race. Again, I was familiar with the Republican nominee Adam Laxalt, Jr., while I had to look up the name of the ultimate winner, Democratic candidate Catherine Cortez Masto, who is the incumbent no less!
Even after the election, more attention was paid to the few big Republican winners like in Florida where Ron DeSantis won by an unexpectedly large margin. There has been intense coverage of his win. There has been much less coverage of those governors’ races where Democrats won by unexpectedly large margins in races that were expected to be close. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro trounced Trump-endorsed Doug Mastriano by a whopping 56% to 42%. In another race in Michigan that was supposed to be close, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won easily over Tudor Dixon by 56% to 44%. Similarly in Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis won by the massive margin of 58% to 40% over his challenger Heidi Ganahi.
My greater awareness of the people I wanted to see lose rather that the people I wanted to see win likely means that I was more focused on those people I want to keep out of office than those whom I want to get in. In that, I think I am much like many voters. This is why Republicans are so nervous about Donald Trump running again for the presidency because, as one Fox News personality put it, people are willing to walk on hot coals to vote against Trump while the anti-Biden feeling is nowhere near as intense.
I have no doubt that Trump the narcissist is seething at DeSantis getting so much media attention and being portrayed as a winner while he is being described as a loser. That would explain his bizarre claims targeting DeSantis.
Former President Donald Trump described in great detail Thursday night how he purportedly delivered a 2018 election win to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis by sending FBI agents to stop “ballot theft” in a major Florida county.
But officials on Friday indicated that the former president’s account was a fabrication.
“Never happened,” former Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur tweeted Friday.
Her comment on Twitter was in response to Trump’s statement about the Florida elections that year.
“[A]fter the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen,” Trump wrote.
Trump’s statement about the 2018 gubernatorial contest also raised serious questions about whether he might have used federal agents to intervene in an election. The bar for the FBI to get involved in election tabulation is enormously high, and there are strict guidelines prohibiting the FBI’s presence inside voting locations.
The Broward County elections office also did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman disputed Trump’s account in a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office has no documentation of any federal law enforcement presence during the 2018 elections,” Ivan Castro, spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, told the newspaper. “Also, to clarify, there is no evidence of corruption during the 2018 election cycle in Broward County.”
This is why I think Trump will, against the wishes of his advisors and many of the party establishment, announce tomorrow that he is running again in 2024, because he will want bring the spotlight back to him and stop his perceived main rival Ron DeSantis in his tracks and prevent his candidacy from gaining momentum.