Mark Meuser never envisioned himself running for secretary of state in California — at least not anytime soon.
The political background was already there, sure. In his younger years he knocked on doors for a local candidate, and he worked for a congressional candidate in the mid 1990s. Meuser had even run for a state senate seat back in 2012, but like most places in the Bay Area, the district was deep blue and his Republican candidacy was mostly symbolic.
A lawyer who deals heavily with election law, he was content with where he was: helping the Republican Party by utilizing his skills as an attorney, not as a candidate.
However, as is the case with so many statesmen who find their calling for higher office, Meuser saw injustices taking place and felt he had no other option. He had to launch a campaign.
When it comes to voter fraud, California stands out among the worst states in the country. As an attorney who practices heavily in election law, Meuser knew his skills were tailor-made for the position tasked with addressing this issue — secretary of state.
It started not long after his bid for the California State Senate. Despite losing that race, Meuser told The Western Journal that the experience led him to discover so much more that was going wrong in politics. Because of this, he stepped up his involvement in election law. As an attorney, he contributed a significant amount of time to upholding the integrity of elections and teaching Republican colleagues the intricacies of voter law.
“I ran for state senate in 2012 — I was running as a Republican in the Bay area and that’s not necessarily a winning formula. It really opened my eyes to a lot of problems that are going on in this country,” he explained.
“As such, I increased my involvement in election law. I became a member of the National Republican Lawyers Association, start(ed) going to their election law seminars, became an election attorney for my county party, was involved in some election work and now, as an attorney, election law is a part of my practice.”
Meuser was involved with pivotal GOP operations. Following Donald Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton in 2016, opponents of the president-elect pushed for recounts in key swing states, successfully initiating one in Wisconsin. Meuser was one of the first attorneys to fly out to the state to take part in the recount effort.
After everything was said and done, not only did Trump remain the winner of the Badger State, but a second count of the ballots showed him with 131 more votes than originally tallied.
Following his 2016 election efforts, Meuser continued to offer his talents and deep knowledge of election law to assist GOP members. Dismayed with what appeared to be an incorrigible voting system in his home state, he felt he had no other choice but to step up to the plate.
“In 2017, I was actually teaching at a National Republican Lawyers Association election law seminar. I was one of the instructors. Several people came up to me and basically asked me if I would run for secretary of state,” Meuser said. At first, he was not receptive to the idea and bucked calls to run for office.
Meuser, however, touts a lifelong history of refusing to back down from challenges — a brutal bicycle accident and an allergic reaction did not keep him from reaching his dream of finishing an Ironman competition. Scoring a management position by age 15 and owning his own pizza restaurant by age 21, Meuser was seemingly born with an unmatched work ethic.
When shown what was at stake, he took on the task of launching a statewide campaign.
“I was not interested in running for secretary of state, but they played dirty pool you could say. They knew the type of cases I worked on as an attorney where I would find the injustice in a situation and then I would latch on like (a) bulldog and wouldn’t let go, and they just started showing me all these injustices that are going on in California elections,” he explained to The Journal.
“The injustice of the whole situation really just got to the point where I had to do it. Somebody needed to step up and fight for Californians. Somebody needed to stand up and fight for free elections in California.”
Voter fraud in the state of California has been a rampant and enduring issue. Despite its longtime documentation in the media, officials in the Golden State don’t appear ready to address the situation with real reforms. Numerous local and national outlets have reported cases of dead, illegal or simply incorrect voters on the rolls, all to no avail.
Voter fraud, of course, is a nationwide issue. National Review documented 462 counties in the U.S. where the voter registration rate exceeded what should be an impossible number: 100 percent. This totals to 3,551,760 more people registered to vote than adult citizens who even live in these counties.
California, however, takes the cake when it comes to outlandish voter registration rates. San Diego County’s 138 percent registration translates into 810,966 fraudulent voters, otherwise referred to as ghost voters. Los Angeles County, not far behind, stood at a 112 percent voter registration rate, equating to 707,475 ghost voters.
A KCBS investigation in 2016 discovered hundreds of instances of fraudulent votes in southern California, with 215 ghost votes in Los Angeles County specifically. In one example, the investigation looked into the voting history of John Cenkner. Despite passing away in 2003, Cenkner somehow voted in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Meuser finds this unacceptable.
“The injustice of the whole situation really just got to the point where I had to do it. Somebody needed to step up and fight for Californians. Somebody needed to stand up and fight for free elections in California,” he said. “I do not think people who have been dead for 20 to 30 years have been faithfully voting for the past 20 to 30 years.”
In speaking with The Journal, Meuser explained what exactly is going on in California government and what needs to happen to enact change.
“Right now, the state of California as a whole has a 101 percent voter registration. The county of LA has like a 144 percent voter registration. The reason why they get so bloated like that — the counties and the secretaries of state are not doing their job of removing from the voter rolls (those) who have died, those who have moved, those people who have duplicate entries and those people who are unauthorized citizens,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, that’s just not something that can happen. The secretary of state has very broad powers of making sure election laws are followed and that is one of the things I intend to do as soon as I get into office: run our state database against Social Security death records.”
Meuser knows what needs to be done, but the question remains if he will get the opportunity. The Golden State hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Democrats hold a majority in the state legislature and the state’s congressional delegation. In the age of Trump, the state has only shifted further to the left.
Meuser took time to address one daunting question: can a Republican even win in California anymore?
He was quick to point out that he isn’t running for governor or senator, but for secretary of state, a position that is inherently less partisan than other statewide offices and a job where West Coast voters are more willing to look past party affiliation.
“In 2016, Oregon, Washington and California all voted for Hillary Clinton. But in Oregon and Washington, they both elected Republican secretary of states,” he pointed out.
This is true. Oregon and Washington state — two bright blue states on the electoral map — elected Dennis Richardson and re-elected Kim Wyman as secretaries of state. The two even won fairly handily, proving that GOP candidates can win in deep-blue states under the right conditions.
Meuser also pointed out the electorate’s mood in California. The Republican brand may not be very popular in the state, but amid such rampant voter fraud and unpopular initiatives on the 2018 ballot, voters there have expressed dissatisfaction with leadership.
“Right now, in an LA Times poll, like 55 percent are not satisfied with the direction the state is going. Forty-two percent of Democrats do not like the direction the state is going,” he said.
“We have a situation in the state of California where we’re having what’s called a tidal change. The Democrat legislature has this new gas tax that’s costing California families of four about $800 a year. That is going to be on the ballot, that’s going to drive a lot of people out to the polls.”
He argued that such cases are creating an environment ripe for a Republican like him to win.
“2018 could be a tide change for the state of California. We are getting our message out. My message of ‘dead people should not be voting’ and ‘the government should not be making felons of green card holders’ is something that crosses party lines. That message is being heard. We are building our name across the state,” he stated.
Should he win his party’s nomination, Meuser will face off against the current California secretary of state, Alex Padilla, in the general election this year.
“I can’t guarantee a win, but I like the chances of a Republican winning in the state of California in 2018 a whole lot better than in 2012 or 2014,” Meuser said.
Not one for rehearsed campaign lines, Meuser had just one request when asked if he had any closing statements.
“Just spell my name correctly.”
Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.
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