The two Latino Secretaries of State that saw off election deniers in 2022
Cisco Aguilar and Adrian Fontes saw off a pair of far-right Republican challengers in two states that remain in the country’s focus.
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Latinos Adrian Fontes and Cisco Aguilar are the new Secretaries of State in Arizona and Nevada, respectively, after seeing off their Republican competition in close elections that had major implications for the future of political races in both states.
In the lead-up to the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona and Nevada were home to at least three of the most high-profile races of the cycle.
In Arizona, not only did incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly face a tight race against Trump-endorsed candidate Blake Masters — which he’s since won — but current Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs also faced an equally competitive challenger from Republican darling election-denier Kari Lake.
Nevada was home to the tightest Senate race of the cycle between incumbent Latina Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Trump-endorsed Adam Laxalt, and also a Trump vs. Democrat incumbent gubernatorial race — Democratic governor Steve Sisolak has since lost his reelection bid to Republican challenger Joe Lombardo.
But just below the surface of the mainstream focus on figures like Lake, Hobbs, Kelly, and Masters in Arizona and Cortez Masto and Laxalt in Nevada, were Fontes and Mark Finchem, and Aguilar and Jim Marchant.
The latter four listed were the candidates for both states’ Secretary of State.
For states, the secretary of state role is the leader in charge of running elections whenever they need to take place — giving whoever holds the office major power over the process. In some states — like Pennsylvania — the secretary of state is appointed by the governor, but voters hold the power in Arizona and Nevada.
Given the unfounded voter fraud claims pushed by former President Donald Trump and his Republican loyalists in Arizona and Nevada ever since his 2020 presidential election loss — which saw him lose both states — the secretary of state position has taken on newfound importance.
In their respective races, Fontes and Aguilar faced 2020 election deniers for Secretary of State.
Finchem in Arizona and Marchant in Nevada were staunch Trump supporters, received Trump endorsements, and were and pushers of the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him by Democrats and President Joe Biden. There’s no doubt they would have kept that attitude about the current president and his party overseeing the election process in 2024 — where Trump could be a candidate again.
Instead, Fontes and Aguilar won, and they will be the ones to oversee the state’s elections in 2024. Finchem and Marchant also join a host of 2020 election deniers vying for secretaries of state across the country that have been rejected by voters. Election-denying candidates also lost in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Michigan.
Get to know Adrian Fontes and Cisco Aguilar
For Aguilar, it’s also Nevada history as the first Latino to ever be elected Secretary of State. He grew up in Tuscon, Arizona to a working-class family. His father was a union electrician who worked long hours to put food on the table for Cisco and his two siblings.
He was the first in the family to go to college and graduate with a Bachelor of Science in finance accounting from the University of Arizona. Aguilar would also go back to obtain both his M.B.A. and J.D.
Professionally, Aguilar has a long career in the education and sports worlds, and moved to Nevada for the first time 20 years ago.
Fontes grew up in the border town of Nogales, Arizona, and stands on the shoulders of his Mexican grandfather, who fought in World War II for the U.S. and became a citizen upon his return. His grandfather would also go on to become the mayor of Nogales during his life.
A young Adrian went into the U.S. Marine Corps., serving from 1992 to 1996 before being honorably discharged. His political career began after he was elected the first Democrat as Maricopa County Recorder in 50 years.