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GOP Senate primary candidates include 2020 election deniers

Updated May 6, 2024 - 9:37 am

The crowded Nevada Republican Senate field includes candidates who continue to promote unfounded claims of mass election fraud in the 2020 election.

Nevada has been a hot spot for such claims since the 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump and other Republicans pointed to Nevada — where President Joe Biden won with more than 30,000 votes — as one of the battleground states they claim was stolen from the former president.

Then-Nevada Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and her staff spent more than 100 hours investigating claims that the 2020 election was stolen but found no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud, and Nevada courts dismissed lawsuits that alleged mass election fraud.

On a national level, the Supreme Court and judges across the country, including those appointed by Trump and other Republican presidents, have rejected 60 cases, citing a lack of standing or a lack of evidence.

Trump hasn’t backed down from claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him. He has also said he peacefully surrendered power at the end of his term, despite his claims of a stolen election leading to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In speeches on the campaign trail, he has said his campaign and the Republican National Committee will work to prevent cheating. On Friday, his campaign joined forces with the RNC and the Nevada Republican Party to challenge a law that allows mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted up to four days after an election, a law that they claim allows for invalid ballots to be counted.

Since then, some candidates have dialed down their election fraud claims and have focused on moving forward. Many Republicans, both elected officials and candidates, continue to advocate for measures they say will ensure election integrity.

The Review-Journal asked GOP Senate candidates who hope to run against Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen in the fall if they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen, if they believe former President Donald Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election, and finally, if they lose the primary, will they accept the results?

Sam Brown

In response, the presumed frontrunner Sam Brown said that in 2020, Democrat-led legislatures “rammed through new laws that put ballots and election security at risk.”

“These last minute changes caused many voters to lose confidence in our election systems,” Brown said. “Every fraudulent vote cancels out a real vote. I want it to be easier to vote and harder to cheat. Passing election integrity legislation will be a top priority as a U.S. Senator.”

Brown did not directly answer any of the Review-Journal’s questions, and he did not provide examples of new laws he thinks put election security at risk.

In his previous, unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2022, Brown conceded the primary results and threw his support to former Attorney General Adam Laxalt. During that bid for Senate, he criticized Laxalt for failing to successfully challenge the results of the 2020 election in Nevada.

Jim Marchant

Former Nevada Assemblyman Jim Marchant, an outspoken election denier, said he believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He does not think Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election, and if he loses the June 11 primary, he will accept the results.

Marchant was also present as an “alternate” when six Republican electors gathered to sign fake electoral documents declaring Donald Trump the winner of the Silver State. He has been a prominent election denier since 2020 when he lost his bid for Nevada’s Congressional District 4 against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, claiming he was a victim of election fraud.

In 2022, Marchant unsuccessfully campaigned for secretary of state on the platform of election integrity, vowing to reform Nevada’s election system by doing away with mail ballots, implementing voter ID and cleaning up voter rolls. He cast doubts on the results of that primary election, even though he won. He lost in the general election to Democrat Cisco Aguilar by more than 23,000 votes.

Tony Grady

Retired Lt. Col. Tony Grady said Biden is the president, however it is clear Americans don’t have confidence in elections.

“I want a seat at the table to make our elections more fair and transparent,” he said. “We are in a new information-sharing age that allows Americans to see directly what is happening and while it may have always been this way, it shows the lack of transparency admitted to voters.”

Grady did not say if he believes the election was stolen, whether Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, or if he would accept the results if he loses.

Jeff Gunter

Dr. Jeff Gunter, former ambassador to Iceland, did not return a completed questionnaire.

In an interview with the Review-Journal, Gunter declined to explicitly say whether he believed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump but said there were a lot of inadequacies with the 2020 election and that voters want election security. He said voters would rather focus on the future. According to his website, if elected, he will mandate national voter ID, ban ballot harvesting, strengthen voter identification and signature matching and enhance election auditing.

Stephanie Phillips

Stephanie Phillips, a real estate broker, said cheating has occurred in elections for decades and “not just the 2020 election.” She is in support of a national voter ID law and repeated unsubstantiated claims of insecurities with voting machines. She also called the indictments against former President Donald Trump “political persecution.”

Garn Mabey

Garn Mabey Jr., a former Nevada Assemblyman, does not believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

“Initially, after the election, the then-President Trump declined to endorse a peaceful transfer of power because of his view of voter fraud,” Mabey said. “Eventually he stated that there would be ‘an orderly transition of power.’ He did not attend the inauguration of President Biden but left the White House.”

He said he will accept the results, win or lose.

Ronda Kennedy

Attorney Ronda Kennedy believes there was fraud in the 2020 election and “without a full investigation … being fully adjudicated in court, we will never know if the fraud in the cheating was to the extent that the outcome of the election would have changed.”

She does not believe Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, and she will accept the results.

Barry Lindemann

Barry Lindemann, an asset manager, believes Republicans gave away the 2020 presidential election “as much as it was stolen by the Democrats.”

He repeated similar concerns of Brown’s that the Democratic-led legislature implemented new voting rules ahead of the election that included mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting.

“Republicans complained but did little to combat this legislative quandary until the results were a loss for the party,” Lindemann said.

Lindemann does not believe Trump violated any peaceful transfer of power. He did not say whether he’d accept the results of the election if he loses.

Bill Conrad

Bill Conrad, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, told the Review-Journal in August 2023, he said he did not believe the election was stolen from Trump, but said mail ballots should go away and voting should be in person.

“After thorough consideration, the allegations that the 2020 election was stolen could be credible,” Conrad said in his questionnaire.

He does not believe Trump breached the peaceful power transfer, and if he loses the primary he will accept the results and endorse the Republican nominee.

Eddie Hamilton

Eddie Hamilton, a longtime political candidate, believes there were many irregularities in the 2020 election.

“I don’t think president Trump violated the transfer of power in 2021,” he said. “Under our election system, the losing candidates are always allowed to challenge the final results, aggressively if necessary but peacefully.”

Hamilton said he will accept the results of the election, “provided the election is conducted lawfully, fairly and securely.”

Vincent Rego

Vincent Rego, a driver in Las Vegas, said he believes the 2020 election was stolen and said there’s evidence mail ballots were tampered with in democratic states. He called for the elimination of mail ballots and for “official election integrity representatives” to serve as witnesses for people who cannot attend in-person voting.

“Nothing we can do about 2020 election but move forward and learn from mistakes that occurred during that election and do everything we can not to repeat it,” he said.

Rego said Trump did not violate the peaceful transfer of power and “reserves the right to choose traditional or non traditional transfer of power.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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