Who is Jim Marchant, GOP candidate for Nevada secretary of state?

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Nevada state Assemblyman Jim Marchant’s victory in the Republican primary for secretary of state has sparked new interest in his background, especially as concerns grow over his position on the 2020 election.

Marchant, who moved to the Silver State in 2005, was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2016, later making an unsuccessful congressional bid for the state’s 4th Congressional District after winning the Republican primary in 2020.

Marchant, considered a loyalist to former President Trump, is now vying to be the top elections official in Nevada, but his previous comments following the 2020 election and his campaign platform are drawing considerable attention.

The former Nevada state lawmaker is set to take on Democrat challenger Cisco Aguilar, a former staffer to the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-N.V.), in November.

Here’s a quick rundown on everything you need to know about the Nevada Republican.

Why is he important, and what does the secretary of state’s role entail?

Marchant just won the Republican nomination for Nevada’s secretary of state primary, which means he has a closer shot to becoming the state’s top elections official. The office oversees state and local elections and files and registers candidate expenditure and contribution reports, among other duties.

Barbara Cegavske (R) is the current secretary of state for Nevada; the top Nevada elections official is term limited, and she was censured by the Nevada Republican Party last year amid baseless claims the party espoused about the 2020 election.

What has he said about the 2020 election?

Marchant alleges on his campaign website that he was “a victim of election fraud” during the 2020 election and has outlined in this upcoming secretary of state race that “his number one priority will be to overhaul the fraudulent election system in Nevada.”

“Your vote hasn’t counted for decades,” Marchant said during a candidate forum in February, according to The Associated Press. “You haven’t elected anybody. The people that are in office have been selected. You haven’t had a choice.”

Marchant was involved in alternative elector efforts in the state as Republicans sought to change the 2020 presidential election results, The Washington Post reported. Then-candidate Joe Biden won the state, albeit by just over 2 percentage points.

Then Marchant helped establish the America First Secretary of State Coalition, whose Republican candidates running for secretary of state races across the United States include Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and state Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Ariz.). Its objectives are focused on voter integrity and working to “counter and reverse electoral fraud.”

Aspects of the coalition’s agenda include voter ID, using paper ballots, and getting rid of mail-in ballots while keeping absentee ballots and single day voting, among others.

Richard Semiatin, assistant professor emeritus of government at American University, said that Marchant’s success in the GOP primary was likely because “he’s preaching to the choir in Nevada in terms of where the Republican electorate is in the state.”

“I don’t know how that plays out in Reno and Las Vegas, but I’m sure in places where they’ve been very anti-government in the state, such as … in places like Elko, Nev., where they’ve always been a lot of claims of government conspiracies in places like that, in the more rural areas,” he said.

“And that’s not … unusual in the West,” he added. “These rural areas and conspiracies are a big thing … I think that that’s, you know, there’s a real home for that in that state, it’s just been awoken. That’s part of what this is about.”

What are the odds he wins in November?

Semiatin advises not to write off Marchant’s chances.

“If you look at states across the country and you look at where the primary electorate is, that gives you a good signal of where the votes are. So I think that that’s really what you look at,” he said.

“And I think this is one of the most important things that people … often miss out. They look at, for example, the general election voters, where the election voter in the state … as sort of representative of the entire party, and it probably is,” he noted, “but the primary electorate isn’t necessarily that — they are the activists in the party.”

At the same time, Semiatin said that other factors could help motivate voters to vote Republican, including high inflation.

Marchant’s primary victory also comes as other candidates across the country who have hewed close to Trump’s election claims have proven to be competitive.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, Doug Mastriano shocked many in the Republican establishment when he won the party’s nomination for governor last month. Mastriano supports Trump’s unfounded assertions about the 2020 election and participated in protests that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Many Democrats have suggested he would be a weak candidate against Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro.

Yet a poll released earlier Wednesday showed Mastriano trailing Shapiro by just four points — within the margin of error.

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