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Big campaign donations are seeping into state-level races in this year’s midterm elections. Spending at the state level this year will top $7 billion, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. That figure would mark a new record.
Some of that money is going to candidates for once-obscure state government jobs.
Maybe you never used to pay much attention to who the secretary of state in your home state was. But these days, more voters are realizing: Secretaries of state have an important job.
“They set the broad parameters for how elections are to be run — the basic rules about how ballots are cast and counted,” said Matt Bennett, who heads Third Way, a center-left think tank.
In most states, the secretary of state also certifies the election, he said.
Voters and campaign donors are also realizing what state attorneys general can do, said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.
“They can bring lawsuits following an election to challenge the results,” he said.
More than half the state attorneys general in the U.S. are up for election next month. OpenSecrets expects them to raise in the ballpark of $200 million for the midterms. That’s about on par with two other big years — 2010 and 2018.
But secretary of state candidates could set a new record. There are about two dozen Republican attorney general and secretary of state candidates who still haven’t accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to Sarah Bryner, director of research and strategy for OpenSecrets.
“In the states that really are likely to make the difference, election deniers are raising a lot of money,” Bryner said.
She’s talking about swing states, including Arizona and Nevada. In Arizona alone, OpenSecrets estimates the secretary of state candidates could raise $6 million.
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