The race for Minnesota governor or 2nd Congressional District is not the one that draws the most national attention and national money. It is the race to decide whether DFLer Steve Simon will be elected secretary of state for a third time.
Simon was one of a few election officials featured on the cover Time . They were called “The Defenders” and “Inside the Fight to Save America’s Elections.” He will be facing GOP nominee Kim Crockett who wants to limit early voting and curtail absente ballots.
This is a typically sleepy, low-ballot contest. It’s one of a few secretary of state races in the U.S. this year. This race tests whether Donald Trump’s denial of 2020 election results has political power.
“The Real winner of GOP’s 2022 primaries was denial of 2020 election,” see one headline from Bloombergspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. Politico headlined “Dems lighten up airwaves at key secretary of state races” Both mention the Minnesota race as one of those being targeted.
It’s not about national news stories. The same campaigns that are making headlines on the Democratic side are supported by millions of dollars in television and digital campaign ads, as well as direct mailing – both supporting them and decrying their GOP opponents.
The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (SAFE) and its campaign arm SAFE announced that they had launched a $11 million effort to protect Simon and other incumbents in Michigan. This amount, the organization claims, could reach $25 million. DASS, or as it is often called, had no full-time staff of political officers until two years ago.
According to records filed with the Federal Communications Commission by stations, Minnesota TV has booked $2.5 million so far. This is approximately $1.8 million in the Twin Cities, and $800,000.00 in Duluth. Simon is vice chair of DASS (a tax-exempt organization organized under Section 527 U.S. Internal Revenue Code whose purpose it is to elect or defeat candidates in federal, state, or local office).
Kim Rogers, DASS executive Director, said that the spending was unprecedented. It comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as continued misinformation regarding the 2020 election.
Rogers stated that the biggest change since 2020 has been the seismic shift in election results. “Decision”, a TV ad that praises Simon’s work in defending elections, attacks Crockett. The narrator states that “This November, we rights are under attack.” It includes Crockett’s description of herself as “the election denier in chief”, which she claims was taken out-of-context to conceal that she was laughing at the accusations she has been facing. It accurately states that she wants to reduce the time for early voting and prefers to have fewer voters use mail or absentee voting.
A second media campaign is being run by IVote (span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>,), a national organization that was founded in 2014 to support voting rights and voter accessibility. According to FCC filings, it has bought ads worth $454,000 on KSTP. These ads will run from Sept. 26 through election day. It has inquired about purchasing ads on KMSP, KARE, and WCCO. Politico reported that the group intends to spend $2,000,000 in Minnesota and Michigan. Mark Ritchie, former Secretary of State of Minnesota, is on the board at iVote.
Although they have registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board (MCFB), most of their activity isn’t reported to the CFB and the Federal Election Commission. They are 527 organizations named after the section of IRS tax law.
Quarterly IRS filings require disclosure of donors, but they are not as timely than campaign finance reports.
Simon has increased his fundraising efforts for his campaign. Simon was first elected to succeed Ritchie in 2014. He has now raised $1.26million this election, having only raised $340,503 in 2018, which included $55,000 in public campaign subsidies. Simon has decided to forgo the public cash because it would have restricted his spending power to $483,000 according the rules of the program.
Crockett does not benefit from strong fundraising or national organizations spending money in Minnesota. As per the most recent state filings, she has raised just more than $314,000 Sixty-six thousand dollars came from the public subsidy program. However, she has tried to use the money flowing against her and to Simon to encourage donations for her campaign.
span style=”font weight: 400 These dark-money attacks contain many vicious lies and have already landed in Minnesota mailboxes,” she wrote in a fundraising appeal. The TV and radio ads are going to be relentless. They will lie, cheat, and steal to keep Steve Simon in his office span>
Is it a ‘train wreck’ or a ‘big lie?
The race for secretary of state is not the only campaign that’s talking about 2020. Scott Jensen, the GOP nominee for governor, said that Simon “may better check out to determine if you look good wearing stripes, because you have gotten away with too many, too long.” He reiterated this line at the Rochester state GOP convention in May.
Many local party organizations have focused fundraisers on showings of “2000 Mules,” a Dinesh-D’Souza documentary that claims to show proof of vote harvesting. Crockett has been seen at such events. FACTCHECK.org fact-checked the claims in the documentary. They deemed the result “speculative”, and failed to provide any definite proof. The film was described by Bill Barr, former Trump Attorney General, as unimpressive and flawed because it relied on a flawed premise regarding cellphone geotracking data. He did not think it changed his opinion that the 2020 election was not stolen by fraud span>
Crockett made election reforms the central focus of her candidacy.
Crockett explained to delegates at the GOP convention in Rochester that she used COVID “as cover to change how we vote but also how it was counted.” Simon used COVID, she claimed, “as cover for changing how we vote, but also how our vote was counted span>
This is an allusion to one of the GOP’s complaints about the 2020 election. A
A bipartisan bill was passed
Prior to the election, mail voting was promoted as a means of reducing the number voters at polling stations. There was concern that the scientific information about the virus and its transmissibility was not yet fully understood. Therefore, reducing in-person voting was only one option. The mail was used to cast 58% of Minnesota’s votes, which is more than twice the number in previous elections.
The same bill also extended the period within which local election officials could start processing mail ballots, from seven to fourteen days. The law stated that the deadline for receiving mailed ballots would not be extended. They must be received before 8 p.m. on election night.
Three lawsuits were filed that summer by three groups, including the NAACP and League of Women Voters, as well as a group representing retired people seeking further change. Simon was certain to lose these suits so he signed a consent decree, which waived the requirement that mail ballots must be witnessed and signed in person by another registered voter. It stated that local election staff could accept mail ballots up to two days following the election.
GOP interests challenged the decree because it only applied to the presidential elections. They lost in federal district court, but won a little at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the state had no legal authority to extend the acceptance period for ballots by two days without legislative approval. In the event that plaintiffs challenged the legality to count them, the court ordered election offices to seperate ballots received after 8 pm on election night.
Biden won the election by a wide margin, exceeding 8 p.m., and there was no challenge. These ballots were added to the final count.
Crockett also stated to delegates that she was being attacked by corporate media and wanted to close us all up. (Minnesota law bans internet connectivity for voting machines. )
Crockett stated that she was a frequent campaigner with Republican candidates for governor and attorney-general and had picked up their talking points on 2020.
span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” I’ve been insisting on election integrity from day one.” she stated. It was very interesting over the past few months. It was as if everyone was running to be secretary of state. They got the memo .”
Simon, for his part has been waging war with legislative Republicans over bills that he claims are inspired by the “big lie” about 2020 results.
Election security and Zuckerberg grants
During Sunday’s debate on WCCO radio between Simon and Crockett, the pair differed on several issues related election security. Simon reiterated his belief that Minnesota elections are fair and secure, even for the 2020 election. Simon said that Minnesota’s top-in-the nation turnout of voters is an endorsement for this assertion. He stated that the state balances voter accessibility with voter security. Simon stated that voting irregularities were very small.
Simon stated that Crockett has been engaging in a “hyperpartisan” attack against election integrity since the beginning of his campaign and is engaging “increasingly strange conspiracy theories.”
It is irresponsible to feed these theories of election fraud. He said it was disqualifying.
Crockett accused Simon and the media of dismissing her legitimate concerns about election. These concerns could be addressed with photo ID and provisional ballots. She claimed that the 46-day early voting period was “excessive” because it exposes voters to the possibility of voting before certain important events or information are known.
She said that voters don’t feel heard. Crockett also accused Simon, saying that Simon favors voter convenience over security. “I don’t think that I would be running. I don’t think I’d be putting myself through this adventure. If I felt that the administration .”
Simon is against photo ID for actual voter registration, noting that 2012 state voters rejected a requirement for photo ID. To register to vote, you will need a driver’s license number and a state ID number. He is also opposed to provisional ballots, as they create a “maybe” pile of ballots. They would also require voters to complete additional steps such as visiting the elections office in person after an election if their ballot was challenged.
He also pointed out that mail ballots match against an identification number selected by each voter when they apply to such ballots. This system is better than trying matching signatures.
They also discussed a common theme with those who claimed the 2020 election was flawed. A nonprofit founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chau, has distributed $350 million to election offices across the nation. The Center for Tech and Civic Life spokesperson said that the grants allow election offices to have the “staffing, training and equipment necessary” for smooth elections.
Republicans accuse Zuckerberg, who they claim used the money to increase turnout in blue areas and infiltrate the election administration. These grants would have been banned by a bill that was passed in the state Senate during the last session.
span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>”Imagine what the National Rifle Association (or any other conservative organization) would have done that,” Crockett stated.
Simon stated that it was legitimate to debate whether the government should accept money from non-profits. He said that the money was used non-partisanally for administrative purposes in 2020 during a very difficult time.
Simon, the spokesperson for Center for Tech and Civic Life, pointed out that all national applicants, both red and blue, were granted fundingspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. Minnesota grants were used to print more mail ballots to meet the increased demand, rent extra space for Minneapolis election workers and voters, and purchase a folder-inserter device for Nobles County mailings.
Simon called GOP complaints regarding the use of money “a paranoid fantasia” during the session. This was part of an election denial campaign to lower trust in elections.
The candidates were asked if the results of the 2022 vote would be accepted at the conclusion of the WCCO debate.
Simon endorsed the state election process and people it was created for. “I believe that this election will be a success, having learned from 2020 and having passed the ultimate stress test, that Minnesota .”
Crockett stated that span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” I think that’s a strange question.” “We’re not there yet. We’re weeks out. We’ll have to wait and see what happens between now, and certification of the election.
Crockett said, however, that election laws were “designed to be definitive.” Someone gets certified, we move on, we govern, and we go to next election .”