The partisan battle over voting restrictions is engulfing secretary-of-state races around the country, as parties on both sides focus on controlling the offices responsible for administering election laws. Democrats and Republicans are launching high-profile and well-financed campaigns aimed at spending millions of dollars in what are normally under-the-radar contests. On the left, veterans of President Obama’s reelection campaign have launched iVote, a super PAC that will funnel money to battleground states with competitive races for secretary of state. Another group, dubbed SoS for Democracy, is being led by longtime labor activists Steve Rosenthal and Larry Scanlon. From the right, a super PAC called SOS for SoS — organized by a former top official at an outside group that supported Newt Gingrich — is aiming to raise and spend $10 million on key races.
Another group, the Republican Secretaries of State Committee (RSSC), will run its own independent campaigns aimed at keeping GOP officials in top elections offices; that group is being run out of the long-established Republican State Leadership Committee.
“There seems to be renewed interest on secretaries races with all these new PACs,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), who chairs the RSSC, said in an interview. “It’s a political race, and this year will be no different. I think there’s a lot more focus on our races now than there ever has been.”
In the past, secretary-of-state races have been fairly nonpartisan, with the outcomes determined more by whether the incumbents have run the department of motor vehicles well or similar technocratic measures.