A Pennsylvania Republican who helped deny former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election is set to be nominated as the state’s chief elections official, Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro announced Thursday.
Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia Republican who served as a co-chair of a panel that was in charge of the city’s elections in 2020, rose to national prominence when he publicly pushed back against attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn election results in Pennsylvania.
When conservative conspiracies swirled that there was widespread fraud in the state’s 2020 elections, including the idea that thousands of dead people had voted, Schmidt rebuked them as “fantastical.”
“I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all and seen them spread,” Schmidt said in an interview with CNN in November 2020.
Schmidt drew the ire of Trump, who tweeted about him after the 2020 election, saying Schmidt “refuses to look at a mountain of corruption & dishonesty.”
Now Shapiro, a Democrat who defeated Trump-backed state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) in the general election, is tapping Schmidt to be the head elections officer in the state.
“Al Schmidt has a proven track record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights and standing up to extremism — even in the face of grave threats,” Shapiro said in a statement released by his office. “I know he is ready to continue the hard work of preserving and strengthening our democracy.”
Pennsylvania was a key battleground state that President Biden narrowly carried over Trump in 2020. But that didn’t stop Trump and his campaign from prematurely and inaccurately declaring victory in the state.
After the 2020 elections, Schmidt left his Philadelphia post to run the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan, pro-democracy nonprofit organization.