Donald Trump wants to portray himself as the Republican kingmaker. In the midterm elections, he sends selected hard-line candidates into the running. But he actually wants to corrupt the electoral system in the long term – and become US President again in 2024.

Other presidents write books after leaving the White House, or give well-paid speeches to important people, or do charitable work. Not so Donald Trump. Like no other ex-president before, he is investing time, energy and money in the midterm elections on November 8 in order to finally install himself as the kingmaker of the Republican Party (GOP).

The US Senate candidates he supports are mostly conservative hardliners, anti-abortion, anti-immigration and voter-fraud conspiracy theories. So far, the poll results from these candidates don’t look too promising. But Trump’s actual calculations could lie somewhere else anyway.

Trump not only got involved in the congressional and gubernatorial elections, but also in the usually rather insignificant “Secretary of State” elections. Among other things, the incumbents are entrusted with the handling of the elections in the respective states – and this is probably where his real interest lies.

Various Republican candidates have already repeatedly and publicly promised to undermine any election result that does not favor the former president should he run again. They are politicians who had already questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Should Trump actually consider running for the 2024 presidential election, he would have installed loyal helpers early on.

It was only in October that Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Nevada, Jim Marchant, renewed his belief in voter fraud at a rally: “President Trump and I lost the 2020 election due to manipulated results,” Marchant said with Trump at his side. “When I am Secretary of State for Nevada, we will fix this. And my alliance of secretaries of state will fix the country and President Trump will be President again in 2024.”

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So far, the secretary-of-state candidates proclaiming the voter-fraud conspiracy theory have raised as much as $12 million in campaigns, according to research by the bipartisan group Issue One. “If just one of these gets elected, it would be terrifying for a swing state,” said Nick Penniman, CEO of Issue One.

Overall, American voters in 27 states will elect a secretary of state in Midterms this Tuesday. 14 of those seats are currently held by Republicans and 13 by Democrats.

Here are the candidates who could be Trump’s greatest asset and the greatest threat to American democracy:

Finchem, a Republican and self-proclaimed member of the far-right “Oath Keeper” group, called for a recount in some constituencies in the 2020 presidential election and was ridiculed when Biden nevertheless emerged victorious. He pushed ahead with a bill to overturn election results and recently called for ballot papers to no longer be counted by machine.

Karamo had also joined an unsuccessful lawsuit in the Supreme Court challenging Biden’s victory in four states. Together with Finchem and several other Republican candidates, she wants to ban postal voting and early elections in the future.

In 2020, Marchant already ran for Congress, lost, and unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit challenging the election results.

November 8 will show how successful the Trump disciples will be in the midterm elections. “Donald Trump is not up for election in 2022, but his political future is,” John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a recent blog post. Because if Trump should fail with his candidates, the Republicans would have quickly found their culprit in Trump. His dream of a comeback in 2024 might then be over.

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