Former Nevada Assemblyman and 2020 Republican congressional challenger Jim Marchant will run for secretary of state in 2022, he told the Review-Journal in an interview Friday.
Marchant, who was defeated by Rep. Steven Horsford in the 4th District by a little less than 5 percentage points in November, was among the Republican candidates to allege voter fraud in unsuccessful legal challenges after the election. He said Friday he is entering the race for Nevada’s top election official with a tight focus on election integrity and transparency.
“(Election integrity) is the No. 1 topic everywhere I have gone to speak,” Marchant said. “And you know what the No. 1 question is? What if the election is the same in ’22 as it was in 2020? How are we going to guarantee that we’re going to have a fair election? And that’s the $100,000 question.”
Marchant admitted defeat in his congressional race, but he said there were “some shenanigans” that got him there.
When asked about a recent report and repeated statements by current Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske saying there was no evidence of widespread fraud, Marchant and campaign manager Rory McShane argued the term “widespread” is vague. Fraud clearly occurred, they said, but is widespread 50 times? 500 times? 1,000?
They argued that each fraudulent vote cancels a legally cast ballot.
“No amount of fraud is acceptable,” Marchant said. “That’s where we want to get to: Zero fraud. That’s our goal, and with maximum transparency.”
To do this, Marchant is campaigning on a six-part “Contract with Nevada,” similar to congressional Republicans’ “Contract with America” legislative agenda in 1994.
The contract stipulates a statewide voter ID requirement, the mandatory use of paper ballots, no mail-in voting except for approved absentee voters such as military members, restricting voting to Election Day, no limits on where and when poll watchers may observe ballot handling in election offices, and aggressive voter roll cleanup.
When asked how he would accomplish most of these changes if elected, given that election laws are made by the Legislature and must be enforced by the secretary of state, the former legislator said he would seek to convince the state representatives of the need to prevent fraud. He would also use the office’s bill draft requests to attempt to change the voting laws.
Marchant said he also opposes automatic voter registration.
With nearly a year to go until the filing period for statewide office begins, the race is still taking shape. Cegavske, the only Republican elected to statewide office, is term-limited.
Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir, a Republican, entered the race in March.
This month, state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, shot down any rumors that he may be considering a bid for the office.
Marchant started several successful technology businesses in the 1980s and ’90s, and he started an ice and water business during his retirement. He defeated former Assemblyman Glenn Trowbridge in District 37 during the 2016 election, later winning the general election by about 5 percentage points. Democrat Shea Backus beat him in 2018 by 135 votes. Backus was, in turn, defeated by Republican Andy Matthews last year.
Marchant said he is focused on raising money and talking to voters, coming off a 2020 campaign in which he raised more than any Republican ever had in the 4th District (about $1.6 million). McShane declined to say how much the campaign had raised to this point.