Check out the website Political Note #312 Jonathan Weinzapfel Indiana Attorney General, Political Note #231 Heather French Henry Kentucky Secretary of State, Political Note #256 Nicole Galloway Missouri Governor, Political Note #317 Rich Finneran Missouri Attorney General, Political Note #322 Yinka Faleti Missouri Secretary of State, Political Note #279 Steve Bullock US Senator Montana, Political Note #306 Mike Cooney Montana Governor, Political Note #322 Bryce Bennett, Montana Secretary of State, Political Note #322 Shemia Fagan, Oregon Secretary of State, Political Note #322 Gael Tarleton Washington Secretary of State, Political Note, Political Note #307 Paula Jean Swearengin US Senator West Virginia, Political Note #301 Ben Solango West Virginia Governor, Political Note #321 Sam Patsonk West Virginia Attorney General,  Political Note #322 Natalie Tennant West Virginia Secretary of State.

092420           Political Note #322   Secretaries of State – MO, MT, OR, WA, WV

2020               General election

Don’t overlook them.  Most states, but not all, elect their Secretaries of State.  Keeping archives is one responsibility and is generally apolitical.  Managing state elections is another responsibility and used to be apolitical.  No longer.  Voting by mail.  Ensuring there are enough voting sites.  Taking care that elections are managed fairly.  Those used to be apolitical responsibilities.

Now there are egregious abuses.  In 2018, the Republican Secretary of State was running for Governor.  At the same time, as Secretary of State, he was purging the voting roles.  Were it not for voter suppression in Georgia in 2018, the Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, might have become the first African American woman governor in the country.

Pay attention to these Secretary of State races.  The winners may make an enormous difference in their state or even for the country.

Yinka Faleti — Missouri

Yinka Faleti is running against an incumbent who is well known in Missouri.  John “Jay” Ascroft was elected Secretary of State in 2016.  Son of John Ashcroft, former governor of Missouri, former US Senator from Missouri, former US Attorney General, and currently head of the lobbying organization the Ashcroft Group, you would expect him to be invincible.  But he’s been defeated.  He was defeated for the State Senate by Democrat Jill Schupp, who is now running for Congress. Another defeat would do real harm to his political future.

Yinka Faleti was the only Democrat to file to run against Ashcroft.  He had a break as a boy while growing up in poverty in a family of Nigerian immigrants.  Valedictorian at his junior high school, he was admitted to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science. From there, he went to West Point, served in Kuwait twice – before and after 9/11, and then completed a law degree from Washington University of St. Louis.  After working in private practice in St. Louis, he became a state prosecutor.  His subsequent work was in non-profits – as Senior Vice President of the Greater St. Louis United Way and as Executive Director of Forward Through Ferguson, the successor to the Ferguson Commission created after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Yinka Faleti’s opposition to Jay Ashcroft is not solely out of concern about voter suppression, although the Missouri Times likens Ashcroft to Kansas’s notorious Kris Kaubach.  Yinka Faleti points to Ashcroft’s rejection of petitions to put Missouri’s abortion law to a state-wide referendum.

Money is an issue in this campaign, but not as great an issue as it was in the spring.  Because Yinka Faleti outraised Jay Ashcroft during the second quarter, he had on hand nearly $200,000 to Ashcroft’s more than $300,000.  Neither has much of an arsenal for a race in a state as large as Missouri.  Help Yinka Faleti get the word out.  It could make a difference. It could make him the first African American elected state-wide to any office in Missouri.

Bryce Bennett – Montana

Bryce Bennett is running against Christi Jacobsen for this Open seat.  The incumbent Secretary of State Corey Stapleton ran for Congress, but lost in the Republican primary.  Jacobsen is a career state employee – budget analyst in the Governor’s office, the Secretary of State’s Financial Manager, budget analyst for the Justice Department, Division Administrator for the Auditor’s Office and then the Justice Department, and finally the Deputy Secretary of State.  She is not, however, apolitical. She won the seven-person primary with less than 30% of the vote.  She argues that online voter registration invites illegal aliens to register.  She takes credit for cutting staff in the Secretary of State’s office by one third, for consolidating rental spaces, and replacing the twenty year-old election system with a new one.

Thirty-five year-old Bryan Bennett was the only Democrat to file for Secretary of State.  He had completed the maximum two terms in the State House of Representatives in 2019 after working for the DNC in Montana and working for the Montana House of Representatives.  He had a successful run in the House.  He was named Legislator of the Year by the Montana Ambassadors for his efforts to keep dark money out of Montana politics, recognized by the State Chamber of Commerce for his work with small businesses and local entrepreneurs, and was the Founder of the Privacy Caucus intended to keep government from being intrusive into people’s lives.  His priorities for the Secretary of state’s office are as much connected to the office’s relationships with businesses as it is with elections.  Help Bryan Bennett get the word out.  It could make a difference. It could make him the first gay person elected state-wide to any office in Montana.

Shemia Fagan – Oregon

Shemia Fagan is running for a position which, for about one hundred years, was held by a Republican, for about the next 30 years after that was held by a Democrat, and, for the last few years, was held by a Republican (three of them).  Dennis Richardson, elected in 2016, died in office.  He was succeeded by his Deputy, Leslie Cummings.  She was succeeded when the Democratic Governor appointed 83 year-old Beverly Clarno, former Republican Speaker of the House with a reputation for bipartisan fairness, who agreed not to run for the office in 2020.

Shemia Fagan is running against State Senator Kim Thatcher.  More than in most states, the Secretary of State’s office has the potential to be very important politically.  Oregon has no Lt. Governor.  The Secretary of State becomes Governor if there is a vacancy.  Kim Thatcher’s candidacy gives a little extra political heft to the contest.  She was a Ted Cruz supporter in 2016 and remains a Donald Trump supporter.  She joined with other Oregon Senators in blocking Democrats from acting by not showing up at the Senate to prevent a quorum.

Shemia Fagan is a State Senator with a story and an identity as a fighter.  Her mother struggled with drug addiction and homelessness. Her father struggled hold things together.  Shemia Fagan credits her fourth-grade teacher who helped her join a chess club, helped her become an age group state champion chess player, and helped her believe she could live a successful life.  She went to college and law school, mostly on her own dime and became a successful civil rights attorney.

Shemia Fagan ousted a 25 year incumbent school board member, an incumbent Republican Member of the State House of Representatives, winning back the House of Representatives for the Democrats while she was at it, and ousted a three term Republican State Senator.  Her career as a legislator was marked by support for public schools, support for civil liberties, and a wariness about corporate power.  She won the Democratic primary for Secretary of State by less than a percentage point, by less than 5,000 votes.  She would return the Secretary of State’s office back to the Democrats and ensure that everyone has a right to vote.  She warrants a donation.  She can be important for Oregon.

Gael Tarleton – Washington

Gael Tarleton has already run and come in second against incumbent Kim Wyman.  Like California, the state of Washington has a non-partisan primary system for elections.  Four candidates ran in the primary.  Kim Wyman the Republican incumbent received more than 50% of the vote.  Gael Tarleton received 43%.  That’s a lot to make up even in overwhelmingly Democratic Washington where every Secretary of State has been a Republican for more than 50 years.

Gael Tarleton is a powerhouse candidate.  She was a senior defense analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Soviet issues in DC. She was the youngest person to ever receive the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement from the CIA director publicly.  In the State of Washington she a staff member of the Science Applications International Corporation for 12 years, a Commissioner for the Port of Seattle, and the first Director of Corporate and Foundation relations for the University of Washington – all before being elected to the Washington legislature in 2013.  In the Washington legislature, she has been an advocate for Washington’s economy and for widely available health care.

Gael Tarleton argues the importance of expanding voter participation in elections. She is well enough prepared so that she outraised, Wyman, got Wyman to acknowledge she was a partisan politician supporting Republicans for Secretary of State around the country, and called on Wyman to support a lawsuit against Trump and DeJoy and the USPS about mail in ballots.  Gael Tarleton is the kind of person who raises the stature of the position of state Secretary of State.  Help her get there.  Make a donation.

Natalie Tennant

Natalie Tennant is a battler, perhaps best exemplified in her term as an undergraduate as the West Virginia University mascot – the Mountaineer.  Some WVU fans did not take well to a symbolic female Mountaineer.  They spent the year harassing her.  She is running against the incumbent Mac Warner who has three claims to fame.  In Afghanistan, he advised Afghani officials on government.  He left the military to become a military contractor in Afghanistan.  He returned to West Virginia to run for and be elected as Secretary of State. He succeeded as a member of a very well-connected political family. One brother is a former US Attorney for West Virginia. Another was the Chair of the West Virginia Republican Party.  A third was the 2004 Republican nominee for Governor of West Virginia.

Natalie Tennant has run for office several times.  She had her greatest success running for Secretary of State and filling that office.  In 2004, she lost her race for Secretary of State by a little more than 1,000 votes.  In 2008 and in 2012 she was elected and reelected as Secretary of State.  Despite some administrative glitches, she had a very successful run – piloting online voting for service-members only, investigating voter fraud by Democrats with the US Attorney leading to convictions of a county sheriff and a county clerk, and expanding voter registration.  She ran, unsuccessfully for higher office – coming in third in 2011 in the Democratic primary for Governor, and losing the US Senate race to Shelley Moore Capito in 2014.  She was not reelected as Secretary of State in 2016, losing to Mac Warner by less than 2% of the vote.

Now Natalie Tennant, battler that she is, is back for another run for Secretary of State.  Help her out if you can.  Democrats have an interesting slate of candidates this year in addition to Natalie Tennant Secretary of State:  Activist Paula Jean Swearengin for the US Senate, Plaintiff’s attorney Ben Solango for Governor, employment attorney Sam Petsonk for Attorney General.