Democracy Watch: Top Ten Candidates who threaten our Democracy

Matthew Dowd
5 min readAug 10, 2022


As we enter the last 90 days of the most consequential election in my life and possibly the last 150 years, it is time to do a ranking of the candidates most dangerous to our constitutional democracy. Throughout this year, the GOP has nominated a plethora of election denying, crazy conspiracy spewing anti-democratic candidates for key offices in state after state. And the most concerning part of this is not just Senate and House candidates, but candidates for offices who run our elections (Secretaries of State), Attorney’s General, and Governors. The absolutely horrifying element in this moment is that many of these candidates have a legitimate chance of winning.

So with all this in mind, I have come up with a ranking system which includes a three combined pillar test: how dangerous to our democracy if they got elected; how unhinged are they in the variety of things they have said and done on any of a number of topics; and what are their chances of actually winning this November. One thing you will notice is not a single Democrat or Independent candidate made this top ten list. The ranking is a GOP sweep thus far. I will update this ranking on a regular basis from now until election day.

1). Kari Lake, GOP candidate for Governor in Arizona. Lake is nearly the Nadia Comăneci of scoring tens on all the pillars. She would hold the powerful position of Governor in a key swing state headed into the 2024 Presidential election which as Governor could do incredible damage. On a daily basis she doesn’t pause to catch her breath as she spouts conspiracy theories and outright lies. And in this key battleground state with an open race for Governor, today she is within the margin of error of being elected.

2). Mark Finchem, GOP candidate for Secretary of State in Arizona. Without Lake running at the top of the ticket in the Grand Canyon State, Finchem would be number one in this ranking. He has publicly said he would decertify the results of the 2020 election and he traveled to Washington, DC to take part in the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. As Secretary of State he would be charged with running the elections in Arizona and he has already demonstrated he is a significant threat to democracy. In a down ballot race in Arizona in another open seat, the chances of his winning today are nearly 50/50.

3). Doug Mastriano, GOP candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania. Another conspiracy spouting election-denying candidate who not only participated in the insurrection on January 6th, he helped organize buses of Trump supporters to get there. As governor of the Keystone State, he would appoint the Secretary of State to run the elections. Mastriano is not higher on this list because though Pennsylvania is a key swing state with this open seat, the incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro holds a decent lead in the November election.

4) Jim Marchant, GOP candidate for Secretary of State in Nevada. A leader in the election-denying efforts he has organized the America First Secretary of State Coalition whose aim is to work with other anti-democratic secretary of state GOP candidates in attempts to thwart the will of the people in elections. And in a down-ballot open race in swing Nevada, Marchant has a real shot of winning and overseeing elections there.

5). Matthew DePerno, GOP candidate for Attorney General of Michigan. Charged with enforcing the laws of the swing state of Michigan, DePerno has already demonstrated his antipathy for both the US and Michigan Constitutions while saying some of the most outrageous falsehoods. While incumbent Dana Nessel has a decent lead, she has at times been polarizing in her statements and actions and there is a window for a DePerno victory in the Great Lake State.

6) JD Vance, GOP candidate for US Senate in Ohio. Vance has become a full-scale Trump follower and knowingly spreads conspiracy theories and falsehoods. The path for the GOP taking over control of the Senate runs through the Buckeye State, and while Ohio leans Republican, the Democratic candidate Tim Ryan in this race has run an effective campaign thus far in this open seat, and if Ryan wins, it makes it highly unlikely the autocratic forces brewing in the Senate won’t take power.

7). Tudor Dixon, GOP candidate for Governor of Michigan. Like her other GOP counter parts mentioned above, Dixon has spread conspiracy theories and is a threat to the will of the people in this swing state. At this moment, while she has a tendency to motivate the GOP base against her, the incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has a pretty solid lead, but Michigan has a tendency to narrow closer to election day.

8). Kristina Karamo, GOP candidate for Secretary of State in Michigan. On the daft test, Karamo is far and away number one, and she is high in the ranking on danger to democracy if she were to pull off this race. Incumbent Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has positioned herself well as a non-partisan effective leader in the state in running elections and ensuring all ballots are counted, this is still a race in swingy Michigan to watch and keep on the danger list.

9). Hershel Walker, GOP candidate for US in Georgia. A national sports legend in purple Georgia, the GOP has made incumbent freshman Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock their number one target. Like Ohio, it is hard to see the GOP taking control of the Senate without winning this race, but Walker has shown himself emerged in the crazy and as a very flawed candidate who is out of his element in public service.

10) Tim Michels, GOP candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Trump endorsed Michels is another conspiracy pushing novice candidate who has “vowed to eliminate the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a bipartisan organization that oversees elections in the state.” Up against the incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who has lead in a steady calm way and protected the will of the voters, Michaels starts behind but Wisconsin always seems to have incredibly close November elections.

This is my first list for the top ten candidates who are a danger to democracy and who are not the most rational players in our political system and who have a least a shot a winning. I expect this list to change as I do updates going forward and others who are not in top ten may rise (or fall?) as the campaigns unfold in the coming three months. Onward.