A.J. Daoud, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, is throwing his hat into the ring for the Secretary of State race. This will be Daoud’s second try at winning the position; he ran in 2012 but lost in the Republican primary. In addition, he briefly made a bid for state party chairman earlier this year.

Daoud counts among his supporters a number of influential legislators, an indication that his path to the nomination might be easier this time around. But even if he “clears the field” Daoud will face steep odds against incumbent Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a Democrat who has served on the Council of State since 1997.

What’s Marshall’s big advantage in this race? In a nutshell: name recognition. She’s been on a ballot for statewide office perhaps more times than any current elected official: in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 for Secretary of State, and in 2010 for U.S. Senate. That name recognition is very important when it comes to Council of State races, which are always overshadowed by other contests. In 2016, Daoud and every other Council of State challenger will have to fight for every last little bit of attention in a “triple threat” year dominated by the Senate race, the governor’s race, and especially the presidential race.

Thus, Daoud’s fate is less about Elaine Marshall and more about Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper. If Cooper wins and Hillary is competitive in the state, his chances of victory are basically nil. On the other hand, a strong showing in 2016 by Republicans at the top of the ticket, combined with an effective “change” message against the long-serving incumbent, might just bring Daoud over the finish line – making him the first Republican elected Secretary of State since 1872.


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