By Tal Kopan
A new group led by a who’s who of Democratic strategists is entering the game to elect more liberal secretaries of state nationwide in 2014 — with an eye toward 2016.
The announcement comes on the heels of the formation last week of a rival super PAC that is gearing up to support conservative candidates to secretary of state offices.
Led by a collection of Obama and Clinton campaign alums, the new PAC iVote announced Thursday it would target four battleground states in its initial efforts: Nevada, Colorado, Ohio and Iowa.
The group plans independent expenditures in each of the states to support candidates who it says will expand voting access. The efforts will include grassroots organizing and digital and media strategies along with research, iVote said.
As battles over voting laws have become increasingly controversial and heated in recent years, more groups are turning their attention to secretaries of state, who in most cases serve as states’ election administrators. In 2013, nearly 300 election laws were passed in the states, according to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and eight states passed voter ID requirements last year, including strict laws in Arkansas, North Carolina and Virginia.
iVote joins the conservative group launched last week and a similar Democratic group formed in December in the game to target secretary of state elections.
In Thursday’s announcement, iVote said the battle in 2014 will lay the groundwork for Democrats’ efforts in 2016.
“The most important thing we can do in 2014 to elect a Democrat in 2016 will be to kick out of office Republicans who would suppress the vote by electing secretaries of state who will promote more voting in battleground states,” a factsheet from the group read.
Members of the iVote board include former Obama campaign National Field Director Jeremy Bird, former Obama campaign consultant Pete Giangreco and Clinton alum Doug Sosnik, and the group will be advised by heavy-hitting Democratic firms including 270 Strategies, AKPD, David Binder Research and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.
“We can no longer sit back as a coordinated and well-funded effort to block voting goes state-by-state, denying access to millions of eligible Americans,” Bird said in a statement. “We’re going on offense to elect secretaries of state who will protect every American’s right to vote.”
Republicans currently hold 29 of the 50 secretary of state offices nationwide, according to a map from the Republican State Leadership Committee, including in Colorado, Ohio and Iowa. Nine Democratic-held seats and 18 Republican-held seats are up for election in 2014.