For most of Nevada’s 157 years of statehood, the secretary of state has quietly worked in Carson City regulating business incorporations and elections.
That changed last year when supporters of former President Donald Trump failed in their efforts to overturn election results in several states, including Nevada.
Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske was censured by her party last winter after repeatedly declaring Nevada’s elections were free and fair and that Joe Biden won the state.
“My job is to carry out the duties of my office as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, not carry water for the state GOP or put my thumb on the scale of democracy,” Cegavske said at the time.
Nevada Public Radio commentator John L. Smith says Cegavske, who is prohibited by term limits from running for re-election next year, will leave office after eight years with a legacy of nonpartisan professionalism.
“She campaigned well, and once in office she showed a kind of quality of nonpartisanship when it came to protecting the campaign duties and the election results themselves,” Smith said. “So you're really talking about a person who was willing to stand up and buck her party when she believed they were making false allegations.”
The vacant seat and the controversy surrounding last year’s elections have prompted interest in the secretary of state job from several candidates, including one strongly in the “Stop the Steal’ camp.
Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant is “a very big supporter of former President Donald Trump,” Smith said, “and he promotes that on his campaign website.”
Marchant has questioned the validity of last year’s election results and touted his endorsement by pro-Trump lawmakers Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Also running on the Republican side is political newcomer and former television newsman Gerard Ramalho, a longtime anchor on KSNV-TV, Channel 3 in Las Vegas.
With his career in journalism, Ramalho “brings his own level of credibility” despite his lack of political experience, Smith said.
John L. Smith, commentator
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