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Election denier Jim Marchant wins Nevada Republican secretary of state primary

Marchant, who told NBC News he would not have certified the 2020 results, is one step closer to being the top elections official in the crucial swing state.
Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Las Vegas.
Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP

LAS VEGAS — Jim Marchant, a prominent election denier and former Nevada state legislator, has won the Republican secretary of state primary, NBC News projects.

With 33 percent of precincts reporting around 2 a.m. ET, Marchant had 38 percent of the vote. Jesse Haw, a businessman and former member of the state Senate, had 18 percent of the vote, while Richard Scotti, a former state judge, had 17 percent.

With his win, Marchant, who continues to falsely claim that President Joe Biden did not win the state, gets one step closer to being elected the top elections official in Nevada, a crucial swing state where efforts by allies of former President Donald Trump to overturn the last presidential election have persisted in the years since the race. 

As the figure overseeing the state office administering the 2024 presidential election, Marchant, if victorious in November, would wield the power of the office to possibly affect the outcome of the race. Some experts say that scenario could contribute to an even more robust effort to overturn the next presidential election. Trump is weighing another bid in 2024.

Marchant now advances to the general election against Democrat Cisco Aguilar. Republican incumbent Barbara Cegavske is term-limited.

Marchant, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2020, is a member of the pro-Trump America First Secretary of State Coalition, which also includes secretary of state candidates in several other swing states, including Mark Finchem (a Republican candidate in Arizona’s race), Kristina Karamo (the Republican nominee in Michigan), and Jody Hice (who lost his race last month in Georgia to Brad Raffensperger). All four of those states are ones in which Biden scored his narrowest victories in 2020.

In an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Marchant said he continues to believe that Trump beat Biden in Nevada, and is the winner of the 2020 election. 

“It’s almost statistically impossible that Joe Biden won,” he argued then. Biden beat Trump in Nevada by almost 34,000 votes — a result approved by the state’s Supreme Court.

Marchant told NBC News then he would not have certified the 2020 election if he had been the secretary of state. He also said that he wouldn’t rule out, if he was to hold the office in 2024, advocating for an alternate slate of Trump electors if Trump were on the ballot. (Marchant pushed for an alternate slate in 2020.)

Marchant, if elected, said he would get rid of all electronic voting machines, voting by mail, early voting and institute a “traceable paper-ballot-only” system that institutes only hand counts.

Nevertheless, he said that he would honor the state’s results of the 2024 election if he were the one overseeing it in Nevada, even if Trump lost in the state.

In the weeks since that initial interview, Marchant has not responded to multiple messages from NBC News seeking any possible clarification or change in his stances.

If Marchant were to win in November, he would, as the Nevada secretary of state, have the power over the next two years to not only transform how elections are run — in ways some experts say could help possible candidate Trump — but to also tip the scale in a close race, the way Trump asked Raffensperger to do in 2020.

Marchant is just one of least 23 people who deny the results of the 2020 election running for secretary of state in 17 states across the U.S., according to States United Action, a nonpartisan group that tracks secretary of state and gubernatorial races.