George Soros and SOS Project hit hard on Election Day

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November 4, 2010

By Joseph Kastner

George Soros, who has donated nearly $10,000 to the Secretary of State Project, declared that the Democracy Alliance had approved the 527 political organization as a grantee at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

While much of both the media's and public's attention in regards to the shift in the balance of political power has been primarily focused on the national level, there were significant changes that took place on the state level as well that could have tremendous repercussions for years to come. In addition to witnessing the development of Republican majorities in both the governorships as well as the state assemblies of individual state governments, Democrats have seen a slim lead in their control of the Secretary of State offices evaporate over night. Hardest hit by the Republican tidal wave in this respect were the secretaries of state who served as chief election official (CEO) of each of their respective states and, more specifically, those officers connected with the George Soros-funded Secretary of State Project.

The Secretary of State Project (SOS Project), is an independent 527 political organization founded in July 2006 under the premise of advancing "election protection" measures. Members believe that the only way in which to accomplish such a goal is to devote all efforts and resources toward helping get Democrats elected to the offices of Secretary of State in selected swing, or battleground, states, specifically those whose margin of victory in the 2004 presidential election contest was 120,000 votes or less.

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Background

The Secretary of State Project can trace its origin directly to the culmination of frustration, anger, bitterness, and overall resentment Democrats felt towards Republicans in the wake of President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. Still plagued with memories of Katherine Harris and Florida from the 2000 presidential contest, Democrats placed the blame for Senator John Kerry’s loss squarely on the head of Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who ruled that provisional ballots in the state would not be counted if they were submitted in the wrong precinct, a decision upheld by the United States Court of Appeals. Bush’s victory in the state – a relatively slim 118,000+ votes – gave him the necessary electoral votes (twenty) to cross the victory threshold of two hundred and seventy.

Democratic founders and financiers of the SOS Project, in particular George Soros, saw conspiracy in Blackwell's decision, insisting that those individuals who were elected on the principle of upholding and enforcing election laws were, in fact, political operatives. But rather then push for reform so that the offices of the Secretaries of State reflected a level of neutrality, perhaps making it so holders of those positions were elected on a nonpartisan basis, they instead sought to implement an aggressive agenda exactly the same in nearly every respect that they had just accused Republicans of performing. Through the strategic process of placing specific candidates, ones that met a certain liberal or progressive criteria set down by the organization, in positions of power that oversaw and administered state elections, the Democratic Party would be "better positioned than in the previous elections to advance traditional Democratic interests," particularly when it came to the administration of election laws.[1] Another one of the three main founders of the SOS Project, Becky Bond, went so far as to say, “Any serious commitment to wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count.”[2]

Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic nominee for Michigan Secretary of State, received $3,250 in campaign contributions from the Secretary of State Project

The SOS Project has had, at least for the past two election cycles, an impressive track record. Between 2006 and 2009, nine of the eleven candidates the organization backed, both in terms of endorsements and financial support, won their respective contests. This year, however, represented the first significant setback for the George Soros-funded group. Out of the seven candidates the 527 political organization endorsed in the 2010 election cycle, five of them - Bernie Buescher (Colorado), Michael Mauro (Iowa), Jocelyn Benson (Michigan), Maryellen O'Shaughnessy (Ohio), and Ben Nesselhuf (South Dakota) - lost on November 2nd; another, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, narrowly escaped defeat by political newcomer Dan Severson. Additionally, while New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera did not officially carry the endorsement of the 527 political organization, she did receive considerable financial support from them during her initial secretary of state campaign in 2006; Herrera, whose office has faced considerable accusations of ethical misconduct, lost handily to State Senator Dianna Duran.

Overall, Democratic CEOs were slaughtered at the ballot box across the country. Where as before the election Democrats maintained a slim 21 - 16 lead over Republicans, a near one-hundred and eighty degree turn has taken place in which Republicans now control 26 out of the nation's 37 CEOs. Six of these - Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, and Ohio - were public elected while three others were achieved through Republican gains in the governorships and state legislatures. With a Republican trifectas in both Maine and New Hampshire, it is highly probable that we will see Republicans appointed as Secretaries of State in the new year. And with Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett winning in his state's gubernatorial election, he is poised to name a Republican as the state's third SOS in less than a year. Republican control of the governorship in Oklahoma, along with both houses of the state legislature, adds another statewide office to the Republican column.

And while these losses have certainly weakened the liberal political organization, it has hardly crushed it. Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, though, as with Mary Herrera, not backed by the project this cycle, won a decisive victory over scandal-ridden Republican candidate Rob Lauer and four more officers who received financial assistance from the SOS Project, including Robin Carnahan (Missouri), Linda McCulloch (Montana), Kate Brown (Oregon), and Natalie Tennant (West Virginia), are up for election in 2012. However, with the next election cycle being the presidential election, large amount of resources will be diverted to re-electing President Obama and maintaining Democratic seats in both houses of Congress, so lower-ticket statewide candidates may have to rely heavily on a damaged Secretary of State Project to maintain their positions.

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