Democracy candidates| Kinzinger's friends start a campaign to recruit candidates.

The Republican congressman's retirement-related nonprofit seeks to balance MAGA's attempts to take over electoral offices.

A drive to find "pro-freedom, pre-democracy" candidates for governor is being launched by a group created by supporters of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), with an emphasis on election officials nationwide.

The nonprofit organization Keep Country First Policy Action will launch its "Country First Academy" on Monday, according to plans for the initiative that were first revealed to POLITICO.

The group intends to find and prepare persons interested in seeking office at all levels of government. But it will put a special emphasis on identifying and training volunteers who staff polling stations and tally ballots, as well as recruiting for local election official posts in counties.

Zach Hunter, the executive director of Keep Country First, stated: "While we will work with those who wish to run for any local office, we are particularly interested in election clerk jobs and volunteers. "Having persons of good faith to fairly administer election laws and restore trust in our institutions is essential for our democracy."

Before the 2023 municipal elections, the organization will soon have field employees in various states, and it intends to extend its program for the 2024 elections.

The initiative's inaugural video, which states that "too many are inciting fear and fury," includes images from the uprising at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The United States has been the greatest force for good the world has ever known, the narrator continues because regular Americans have heeded the call to duty.

The organization's push comes as supporters of former president Donald Trump are attempting to seize control of election offices and other municipal positions across the nation, a move that Kinzinger has passionately opposed and probed as part of the Jan. 6 committee.

Across the nation, several Republican primaries have been won by the former president's election-denying supporters. After running on broad promises to sabotage elections in their state, former TV anchor Kari Lake and state lawmaker Mark Finchem, respectively, won the GOP primary elections for governor and secretary of state last week in Arizona.

While Finchem has been a leading conspiracy theorist in the state, criticizing local election officials from both parties, Lake claimed that if she had been governor in 2020, she would not have certified the election.

Finchem is a member of a group of like-minded Republican candidates for secretary of state who are running in various states around the nation. Members of the coalition secured the GOP nominations for the position in Nevada and Michigan, while another member is Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, who, if elected, would appoint the office's chief elections officer.

Kinzinger's allies have taken action to attempt and prevent some Trump-aligned candidates from getting seats as election officials this cycle. In the final weeks leading up to Georgia's May primary, the nonprofit's super PAC, Americans Keeping Country First, spent $1.4 million there to support Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. After upsetting the former president, Raffensperger defeated GOP Rep. Jody Hice, a rival who had Trump's support.

In the Republican primary elections, the super PAC also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting House members like Kinzinger who voted to impeach Trump in January 2021 due to the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising.

The group has spent money on behalf of Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), and Tom Rice are four lawmakers who have faced Republican primary opponents this year (R-S.C.). While Valadao and Newhouse won their all-party primaries, Meijer and Rice lost their respective contests.

The nonprofit Keep Country First Policy Action will not be actively involved in the primaries. However, its academy program would probably draw candidates from the party's anti-MAGA faction.

It is time for a new generation of leaders who are in favor of freedom and democracy to take the initiative and combat the toxic partisanship that has undermined our institutions and set neighbors against one another, according to Hunter.

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