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Nevada Democrats sound alarm as election denier leads secretary of state race

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Marchant, the nominee Republican nominee for Secretary of State in Nevada, has so far been outsourced and campaigned by his Democratic opponent. But when the first counties in the state started sending ballots to voters, he consistently… gauged ahead from Democrat Cisco Aguilar.

Democratic groups have stormed in buying ads and organizing efforts to try and boost Aguilar’s prospects in the main battlefield state. But some within the party have sounded the alarm that it is not enough.

“Marchant can’t be trusted, but I don’t think many people even pay attention to the race,” said Donna West, former chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, who is now volunteering to be the organizer. for the provincial festival. “We have been knocking on doors and people are not aware of the race. They still do not understand what the Secretary of State is doing.”

The comments from West and others interviewed by NBC News underscore the arduous climb Democrats face in winning office in Nevada and other purple states. Along with Arizona and Michigan, Nevada is one of the main battlegrounds where an election denier, backed by former President Donald Trump, is running for Secretary of State, a position that oversees elections in most states. Nonpartisan groups that race with election deniers, such as States United Action, as well as election experts in academia, warn that any of those candidates who win could contribute to an even more powerful effort to topple the next presidential election.

Marchant’s lead in the polls comes despite the fact that he hosts few public events and displays no advertisements. But on Saturday, he will join Trump at a rally in Reno to up and down the Republican candidates. The former president will hold a similar meeting in Mesa, Arizona, on Sunday.

In recent days, Democratically aligned groups have jumped into Nevada’s race, putting out television ads criticizing Marchant — falsely claiming Trump beat Joe Biden in Nevada and saying he wouldn’t have certified results there by 2020. – and try to educate voters about the role of the office.

But even Aguilar, a lawyer and former staffer of former Senate leader Harry Reid, acknowledged the political headwinds that were working against him.

In an interview, Aguilar worried that when voters “look at gas prices”, that remain much higher than the national average in Nevada“and especially rent”, which has increased in the state faster than in others subway areas, it hurts Democrats like him.

“It’s a problem with the kitchen table,” he said national polls this year have shown that voters trust Republicans significantly more than Democrats on economic issues, that remain a pinnacle of care for voters.

In an effort to draw voters’ attention to electoral rights, several outside groups have: recently showing ads pounding Marchant on his past statements on the 2020 elections and his policy positions on election surveillance.

According to AdImpact, a political ad tracking company, Aguilar and outside groups that support him have spent $1.3 million on political ads since September 1. Marchant and outside groups backing him have spent zero dollars over the same period, according to the company.

Nevertheless, Marchant has led all recent public opinion polls. A Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights poll issued this week, Marchant showed an increase from 39% to 31% – outside the margin of error – although 21% of respondents remained undecided. a CNN opinion poll released Thursday, Marchant showed an increase from 46% to 43%, within the margin of error, with 11% saying they would vote for neither candidate, would not vote or had no opinion.

Aguilar’s campaign has said it has built its strategy around the assumption that many Nevadans wouldn’t pay attention to downward voting races until the ballots started going out (Nevada is a universal post-vote state) — and planned to further ramp up advertising and voter outreach efforts during the final weeks of the race to wave undecided voters.

“Most Nevada residents don’t want to spend their time thinking about politics until they receive their sample ballots in the mail. We knew we had to talk to them when they’re aligned,” campaign manager Gabriel di Chiara said in an interview.

Di Chiara said the campaign had earmarked more than 80% of the money it raised over the past four weeks of the cycle and predicted a boost in upcoming advertising from outside groups in the final weeks. Through the throbbing efforts of the state party and the mighty Culinary Workers Union, which endorsed The Democrats will this cycle include efforts to educate voters on Aguilar’s office and candidacy, he said.

Mike Noble, whose company led the Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights survey, said such reasoning is actually smart for low-vote candidates.

“Because they have finite resources, they hold onto their money until the last 30, 45 days and only spend it well when voters start making their decisions,” he said at a recent Las Vegas event attended by NBC News.

However, Noble noted that “when you have these national winds, be it to the left or to the right,” down-vote candidates like Aguilar are “kind of a hostage” to the problems of the moment — such as concerns about the economy. .

William Davis, an Uber driver in Las Vegas and a small business owner, said he would vote on that issue only for Republican candidates in the Senate and governor races. Davis, a Republican, said he “hadn’t given much thought” to whether the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and left undecided in the race for secretaries of state.

“I need to read more about it, but I’d rather vote Republican because of the economy,” he said.

Marchant did not respond to multiple calls from NBC News. In an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Marchant said he wouldn’t rule out if he took office in 2024, and argued for an alternate slate of Trump voters if Trump were on the ballot. (Marchant pushed for an alternative slate in 2020).

The dynamics in the Arizona Secretary of State are similar.

GOP nominee Mark Finchem, another election-denying conspiracy theorist, is also ahead of his Democratic opponent, despite being outmatched (although Finchem has campaigned more aggressively than Marchant).

According to AdImpact, Finchem and outside groups supporting his campaign have spent less than $1,200 on ads since Sept. 1. His opponent, former Maricopa County recorder Adrian Fontes, and groups backing him have since spent nearly $1.2 million, according to the company.

A CNN poll issued On Thursday, Finchem let Fontes lead with 49% to 45%. Another 7% said they would not vote for either, did not vote or had no opinion.

“We are campaigning, we are outsourcing too much,” Fontes said in an interview. “But I don’t know what to think,” he added, referring to polls showing him trailing. “That won’t stop me from continuing until November 8.”

Finchem – who has ties? to QAnon and the oath keepers and attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally preceding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — did not respond to emails and phone calls from NBC News.

He and Marchant, as well as Kristina Karamo, the Michigan Republican Secretary of State nominee, are all pro-Trump members. America First Secretary of State Coalitionalthough polling shows Karamo’s race is much less competitive.

Trump’s prominence in these races — he campaigned for Karamo last week ahead of his double rallies this weekend — has only added to the concern Nevada Democrats have about the race for the Secretary of State.

“This could be the last free and fair election in Nevada,” West said. “We have to do more. He comes in for them. I don’t think we’re doing enough.”

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