Pennsylvania’s new Dem governor nominates Republican Schmidt to run state elections

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janvier 5, 2023

Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro will nominate Al Schmidt, a former Republican elections official in Philadelphia, as the battleground state’s next chief elections officer ahead of the 2024 presidential race.

Shapiro, a Democrat, announced his intention to nominate Schmidt to be his secretary of the commonwealth — which is analogous to many states’ secretary of state position — on Thursday.

Schmidt served as one of Philadelphia’s three city commissioners, who oversee elections in the city, for ten years.

His tenure included the 2020 presidential election, after which then-President Donald Trump attacked him by name in a tweet for defending the results and the security of the process. Schmidt soon rose to national prominence, regularly speaking with the press. He testified at a Jan. 6 committee hearing in June, where he said Trump’s tweet led to threats of violence directed toward him and his family.

“Al Schmidt has a proven track record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights, and standing up to extremism — even in the face of grave threat,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Schmidt resigned from his city elections role in early 2022, leading the Pennsylvania-based good government group the Committee of Seventy after stepping down from elected office.

Schmidt’s appointment to the role will make Pennsylvania one of the few states where the state’s governor and chief election officer are of different parties — though they are aligned, broadly, on election policy.

“My job now is to advance the governor’s agenda, and to make sure that every eligible voter is able to register to vote, and every registered voter is able to cast their vote and have their vote counted at the end of the day,” Schmidt said in a brief interview. “Regardless of party affiliation, there has never been any daylight between anything that I think would strengthen democracy, and the governor-elect’s agenda, as he’s expressed it.”

Shapiro will take office later this month. Schmidt’s nomination will go in front of the state Senate, where he needs approval from two-thirds of the body, in which Republicans have a five-seat majority. Schmidt can serve with an acting title prior to confirmation.

Schmidt said he would lean on his tenure as a local election official while in office. “It’s not something I’ve read about, it’s not something I’ve heard about. It’s something that I’ve done for 10 years,” he said, saying it was important to work with counties “big and small.”

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