Jim Marchant, the Republican candidate for Nevada elections chief, has repeatedly promoted false conspiracy theories about elections in his closely contested state.
Now, with the November 8 midterms fast approaching, Marchant is going further – pushing a preposterous claim that prominent congressional Democrats in California and New York did not legitimately win reelection, though they actually won fair and square by overwhelming margins.
Marchant is one of at least 11 Republican candidates for state secretary of state in 2022 who have rejected, questioned or tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He is the first, though, to run a campaign ad rejecting the legitimacy of the dominant victories earned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York.
Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College political science professor who studies political misinformation and co-organizes an initiative that monitors the state of democracy in the US, tweeted that the Marchant ad is “terrifying.” Nyhan explained in a message to CNN that he finds it “chilling” that a secretary of state candidate is running an ad “questioning the legitimacy of Democrats winning *any* elections.” He said Marchant “could easily throw the 2024 election into chaos.”
In the 30-second version of the online-only ad, which Marchant posted on his website and touted on the platforms Twitter, Facebook and Rumble, a narrator begins by invoking wealthy Democratic donor George Soros.
“George Soros is helping to elect anti-American politicians. And these same politicians keep winning re-election,” the narrator says. The screen shows news headlines about the election victories of Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer and Nadler. The narrator continues: “How is that possible? It’s not.” Then the words “IT’S NOT” appear on the screen in big red text over a clip of someone putting multiple ballots in a box (in Detroit) – hinting that some sort of ballot shenanigans were responsible for their wins.
This is all nonsense.
Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff and Nadler won because they are well-known Democratic incumbents who are popular in their heavily Democratic jurisdictions. None of their recent victories were remotely close. In 2020, Pelosi won by more than 55 percentage points (her opponent in the general election was also a Democrat). Schiff beat his Republican opponent by more than 45 percentage points. Nadler beat his Republican opponent by more than 50 percentage points. In 2016, Schumer’s most recent election before this year, he beat his Republican opponent by more than 43 percentage points.
There is zero basis for the insinuation that Soros – a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories – might have nefariously orchestrated these victories. And the ad did not even attempt to mount an actual argument about why “it’s not” possible that the four candidates keep winning.
Marchant’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Democratic opponent Cisco Aguilar said in an email to CNN that the ad proves his point that “Jim Marchant is not a serious candidate, but the threat that he represents to democracy is extremely serious.”
“Jim Marchant has gotten his fifteen minutes of fame by lying to Nevadans, and has resorted to bigger and more absurd lies to keep that attention,” Aguilar said. “I think there’s a very good chance that he simply doesn’t understand the way elections work, let alone anything as complex as a statewide voter registration system.”
Marchant has falsely declared not only that former President Donald Trump won Nevada in 2020 (Trump actually lost to President Joe Biden by more than 33,000 votes) but that Nevada elections have been rigged for years. He baselessly said on a conservative podcast in January that “we haven’t in Nevada elected anybody since 2006” and that all winners since then “have been installed by the deep state cabal.”
Marchant has also co-organized a coalition of pro-Trump secretary of state candidates who have rejected the 2020 results and propose to eliminate mail-in voting and eliminate early voting, among other changes.
Marchant lost a Nevada congressional race in 2020 by more than 16,000 votes. At a Trump rally earlier this month, Marchant falsely claimed that both he and Trump lost “because of a rigged election,” then promised to address unspecified problems he claimed to have discovered: “When I’m secretary of state of Nevada, we’re gonna fix it. And when my coalition of secretary of state candidates around the country get elected, we’re gonna fix the whole country. And President Trump is gonna be president again in 2024.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of Dartmouth College.