Looking to 2008: This Year's Secretary of State Races (Who will Replace Ken Blackwell?)

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 1:25 AM EST

Democrat Jennifer Brunner is solidly ahead of Republican Greg Hartmann in the race to fill the secretary of state job vacated in Ohio by (failed gubernatorial bidder) Ken Blackwell, who orchestrated the 2004 presidential election scandal in the nation's most important swing state. Across the country, returns are arriving for sec state races that could help decide whether Democrats get a fair shake in a tight 2008 presidential election race.

In general, Democrats in hotly contested swing states are running strong. Minnesota Democrat Mark Ritchie solidly leads incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer, who famously attempted to prevent absentee voters from changing their ballots after Sen. Paul Wellstone died that year in a plane crash. Nevada Democrat Ross Miller is ahead 11 points in (very early) returns against Danny Tarkanian, who wants to make voter-ID legislation his "first priority as secretary of state."

The bloodiest fights for Democrats are in the mountain West. Ken Gordon trails his opponent by roughly 100,000 votes in Colorado—a surprise in a race that had recently polled as a dead heat. In New Mexico—a swing state that went for Bush in 2004 by a margin of.79 percent--Democrat Mary Herrera leads Vickie Perea by two points.

For an analysis of how a new group, the Secretary of State Project, helped swing these races, see my Mother Jones story here.