Two groups affiliated with the Democratic Party announced a multimillion-dollar ad campaign Tuesday targeting Republican candidates for secretary of state running on election fraud lies promoted by former President Donald Trump.
Safe Accessible Fair Elections and End Citizens United announced $11 million in advertising spending to defeat GOP candidates Kim Crockett in Minnesota, Kristina Karamo in Michigan and Jim Marchant in Nevada.
Safe Accessible Fair Elections - the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, or DASS - is spending in all three races. End Citizens United, a political action committee focused on campaign finance reform, is spending against Karamo and Marchant.
DASS also announced that it would contribute between $10 million and $14 million to state party committees in Arizona and Georgia backing two candidates for secretary of state, Adrian Fontes and Bee Nguyen.
This is the first big advertising campaign by DASS and End Citizens United in 2022. Both groups aim to defend incumbent Democratic secretaries of state in November's midterms and keep GOP election deniers from taking control in key presidential battleground states.
Crockett, Karamo and Marchant were all endorsed by Trump and support his myth that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Since the secretary of state acts as the top election official in Minnesota, Michigan and Nevada, putting an election denier in this position could lead to the undermining of future races.
"Secretaries of State are supposed to ensure safe and accessible elections and instead we have extreme MAGA candidates on the ballot focused on culture wars, rigging elections for their political allies, and radical attacks on our freedoms like ending women's right to make their own health care decisions," said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, in a statement.
"They pose a dangerous threat to our democracy and we will continue to hold them accountable and show how they are not fit to run statewide elections."
Kim Crockett, a GOP candidate for secretary of state in Minnesota, falsely said that the 2020 election was "lawless" and "illegitimate." (Photo: Dave Orrick / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images)
Karamo, a far-right podcaster running against incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson, rose in GOP political circles by falsely claiming after the 2020 race that election machines in Michigan were rigged against Trump. She has promised to continue to pursue false election fraud claims and move to end or restrict mail voting if elected.
In Minnesota, Crockett falsely called the 2020 election "illegitimate" and "lawless," labeled absentee voting "insecure," and said that postal workers couldn't be trusted to deliver mailed ballots because "the postal union is a partisan player." She also questioned whether people who need help with voting due to a lack of English proficiency or a disability should be voting at all. She is running against incumbent Democrat Steve Simon.
Marchant, a former state assemblyman and failed congressional candidate, said that he would not have certified the 2020 election, called to end mail voting and claimed that all Nevada elections have been fraudulent since at least 2006.
"We haven't in Nevada elected anybody since 2006," Marchant said on a podcast with links to the QAnon conspiracy movement. "They have been installed by the deep state cabal."
With Nevada's current secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, term-limited out of office, Marchant is running against Democrat Cisco Aguilar.
An ad targeting Crockett knocks her for saying she would be the "election-denier-in-chief." It also notes her opposition to mail voting.
The anti-Karamo ad raises some of her most outrageous comments about "demonic powers" and the "Satanic agenda," connecting them to her opposition to abortion rights.
"We're wrestling against demonic powers," she says in a clip played in the ad. She is also heard saying that the Democratic Party has "totally been taken over by [a] Satanic agenda," before she claims in another audio clip that "child sacrifice is a very Satanic practice, and that's precisely what abortion is."
The video ends with video of Karamo saying that she got involved in politics "to fight against abortion."
Abortion emerged as leading issue in the 2022 midterms after the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court in June overturned 1973′s Roe v. Wade decision, ending national abortion rights protections. Crockett, Karamo and Marchant are all opposed to abortion rights.
While the position of secretary of state has no role related to abortion policy, the ads link the opposition to abortion rights to the broader effort by election fraud liars to fix elections against Democrats.
"The Republican Party knows that stripping Americans of our freedoms - like banning abortions - is unpopular, so they are willing to steal our right to vote to get it," said Kim Rogers, the executive director of DASS, in a statement. "If changing the rules doesn't work, they're willing to toss out the election in order to pick and choose winners."
The issue has also become central to base-mobilization efforts by Democrats. These attacks also highlight the partisan differences between candidates in far lesser known races like those for secretary of state.
The DASS and End Citizens United ads come on top of an announced $4 million ad buy from the group iVote in opposition to Crockett and Marchant in Minnesota and Nevada, respectively.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.