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Election denier Marchant is the Republican nominee for Nevada secretary of state

Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party on Nov. 3, 2020, in Las Vegas.
John Locher
Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party on Nov. 3, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Updated June 15, 2022 at 8:28 AM ET

Jim Marchant, a former Nevada state lawmaker who has made Donald Trump's baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 election a cornerstone of his own campaign, is the Republican nominee to oversee voting in the swing state, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

Marchant becomes the latest election-denying GOP candidate to take a step closer to running elections in their state — a trend that has alarmed experts on democracy.

The Republican Marchant lost a congressional race in 2020 — an election he claimed, without evidence, was stolen from him.

On Tuesday, Marchant defeated several other GOP candidates in the primary for secretary of state, including businessman and former state lawmaker Jesse Haw. As of 8 a.m. ET Wednesday, Marchant had 38% of the vote, well ahead of Haw's 20%.

Democratic candidate Cisco Aguilar was unopposed in his primary.

The current secretary, Barbara Cegavske, is term-limited. The Republican defended Nevada's elections in 2020 and was then censured by the state GOP back in April 2021 for not doing enough to investigate alleged election fraud.

On his campaign website, Marchant proclaims that his "number one priority will be to overhaul the fraudulent election system in Nevada."

He organized the America First Secretary of State Coalition, which says it aims to achieve "election integrity" through reforms such as implementing voter ID requirements, eliminating mail-in voting and returning to hand-counting ballots. (Election experts say doing away with vote-counting machines is a bad idea.)

According to its website, the coalition began last year with a planning session that featured Marchant and other Trump-aligned secretary of state candidates, including Jody Hice in Georgia, Kristina Karamo in Michigan and Mark Finchem in Arizona — all candidates who have spread false claims about election fraud in 2020.

Last month, Hice lost his primary challenge to Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has defended Georgia's election administration. Karamo, though, got the backing of Michigan Republicans in an April endorsement convention.

Nevada is one of the closest states on America's political map. Its races this fall for governor, U.S. Senate and three U.S. House seats are all considered toss-ups by the nonpartisan election rater Cook Political Report. Trump lost the state by just over 2 percentage points in 2020.

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Ben Swasey is a deputy editor on the Washington Desk, covering politics and voting.