The Democratic Party committee charged with electing secretaries of state has tapped veteran North Carolina campaign staffer Travis Brimm as the group’s next executive director.
Brimm, whose new role was shared first with POLITICO, will lead the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State following a blowout midterms for the committee, where the party beat back a wave of election-denying-Republican candidates to flip Nevada and defend Democratic-held seats in other battleground states.
“Election protection, the work that secretaries do, has become a really important part of American democracy, and really the overall struggle that our nation is going through,” he said in an interview. “There’s never been a more important time to do this work.”
Brimm last managed North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley’s 2022 Senate run, and also worked for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden as North Carolina state director for the 2020 primaries. He has also previously managed other congressional races in and outside the Tar Heel State, and worked at the DCCC.
Secretary of state races received an unprecedented amount of attention last year when candidates across the country allied with former President Donald Trump ran to be states’ chief election officials. Many of those candidates ran as part of a coalition, with promises to remake the elections system under the false pretense that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
In the five core battleground states that elected secretaries, those election deniers all lost — one in a Republican primary to an incumbent secretary, and four in a general election to Democrats. DASS raised over $30 million for the 2022 cycle — roughly 7.5 times what the committee raised for the 2018 and 2022 cycles — and other liberal outside groups poured in millions more to win races in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada. A lone disappointment for the party was in Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger cruised to reelection after defeating a Trump-aligned candidate in a primary. Raffensperger famously denied efforts to overturn election results in Georgia.
If election deniers had won, they would have been in a position of overseeing the 2024 election in key battleground states. And despite their losses, many of those candidates did not fade away: Kristina Karamo is now the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, while Nevada’s Jim Marchant announced a Senate campaign earlier this week.
The 2022 elections were one of dramatic expansion for DASS, which had only one full-time staffer at the start of the cycle. Brimm declined to share a specific fundraising or staffing target going forward, but he said: “early benchmarks are making sure that we’re carrying it forward.”
Brimm said a goal of his this cycle is to make sure the committee isn’t “writing off any candidates … making sure that we’re challenging every available race on the board.”
Compared to the midterms — where 25 states elected a chief election official — the next two years will be comparatively sparse. Three red-leaning states are electing chief election officials this year — Republican incumbents Michael Adams of Kentucky and Michael Watson of Mississippi are seeking reelection, and there is an open race in Louisiana.
There are just seven secretaries on the ballot next year, including Washington and Oregon — which despite their overall blue tilt, only saw their secretaries’ office flip to Democrats in 2021. And Shemia Fagan, Oregon’s secretary of state, is resigning from office effective next week after Willamette Week broke the news that she had a consulting contract with a cannabis company while her office was auditing the state’s marijuana program.
But 2026 will be another big year for the committee. Democratic incumbents Adrian Fontes of Arizona, Cisco Aguilar of Nevada and Steve Simon of Minnesota will be eligible to run again, as will Georgia’s Raffensperger. Michigan will be an open-seat race, with Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson term-limited. Brimm said he would serve through the 2026 midterms.
“With a four year approach, there are a variety of different pieces that I think are going to be compelling for people to continue to pay attention and continue to support not just DASS as an organization, but also our candidates and incumbents,” he said. “The work of secretaries of states in administering elections is pretty damn important in presidential years.”