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Cisco Aguilar defeats an election denier to become Nevada's secretary of state

Democrat Cisco Aguilar is seen on Election Day.
John Locher
/
AP
Democrat Cisco Aguilar is seen on Election Day.

Updated November 12, 2022 at 10:33 PM ET

Democrat Cisco Aguilar has been elected Nevada secretary of state, according to a race call by The Associated Press, sending a blow to one of former President Donald Trump's loyalists in the process.

Aguilar, an attorney who spent a number of years on the state's Athletic Commission, defeated Republican Jim Marchant, who has long baselessly maintained the 2020 election was stolen.

Aguilar — and election experts nationally — painted the race for Nevada's top voting official as existential for the future of democracy in the swing state.

"Everything is based on truth and honesty and trust. And it's my responsibility if I'm elected secretary of state to build that trust from scratch," Aguilar told NPR on Tuesday, before voting ended. "My opponent has built everything he has on a false foundation of lies and disinformation."

The Nevada race call, which came Saturday evening, means that every election denier running in a secretary of state race in a competitive state was defeated, following losses by Republican candidates in Arizona, Michigan and Minnesota, among others.

Marchant lost a race for a U.S. House seat in 2020, and he claimed afterward that the election was fraudulent, though he never provided evidence to support that claim. He gained Trump's endorsement, and the former president rallied with him in October.

"We have something in common: President Trump and I lost an election in 2020 because of a rigged election," Marchant told the crowd. "I've been working since Nov. 4, 2020, to expose what happened, and what I found out is horrifying."

Jim Marchant is seen on Sept. 10.
Jim Rassol / AP
/
AP
Jim Marchant is seen on Sept. 10.

Marchant was among the most radical candidates running for a secretary of state position this midterms cycle. The coalition he started said eliminating early voting was one of its key goals, and on Tuesday Aguilar told NPR Marchant was "the most dangerous candidate in America."

In addition to saying that he wanted to severely restrict voting access in Nevada, Marchant has also led a push in the state for counties to hand-count ballots instead of using machines, even though research has shown that method to be less accurate.

Aguilar said before the election that his first priority in office would be legislation to protect election workers and volunteers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.