Her straight-talking charisma attracted loyal volunteers, a lot of whom are actually campaigning for her reelection. “I used to be texting for her at my daughter’s marriage ceremony,” stated Sue Felton, 72, at a latest Democratic meeting assembly in Denver, the place Griswold doled out hugs to delegates, supporters and elected officers. “The primary time I ever heard her converse was at a home get together the place she stated she would work to ensure ‘each eligible Coloradan was registered to vote, whether or not Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated.’” She was elected in 2018 with 51 percent of the vote.

Then got here the 2020 election, when secretaries of state throughout the nation have been pulled into politics. Like Griswold, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have turn out to be targets of proponents of the false declare that President Joe Biden stole the election. “Election officers proceed to face common harassment and threats to their lives,” Hobbs stated in a January assertion marking the one-year anniversary of the rebel on the U.S. Capitol. Dozens of armed protesters shouted obscenities and chanted into bullhorns exterior Benson’s residence as she and her son embellished for Christmas in December 2020, she wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Colorado’s Griswold oversees elections in a state the place tensions run notably excessive due to its deep divide between rural conservative voters and their liberal city neighbors. She attracted the ire of conservatives each for public statements they deem as partisan and for her vocal assist of election reforms that opponents worry will centralize energy in her workplace by weakening county clerks’ oversight of elections.

Election watchers and a few Republican county clerks who work along with her say Griswold’s daring, confrontational model and ambitions for greater workplace make her seem extra partisan that earlier secretaries of state, who largely accomplished their duties behind the scenes.

“There isn’t a doubt that she sees her place as a springboard to greater workplace,” wrote Eric Sondermann, a political columnist for ColoradoPolitics.com. “Her press releases are continuous. She has a nostril for divisive, polarizing points and eagerly seizes upon them.”

Questions on Griswold’s political ambitions arose after she created an exploratory committee tasked with researching a run towards Republican Sen. Cory Gardner six months after taking workplace in January 2019. She in the end determined to not enter the race. She additionally doesn’t shrink back from publicly backing points necessary to her get together — she testified in front of a state House committee this spring in favor of a invoice that codifies the suitable to abortion in statute.

Her willingness to talk to nationwide media has little question strengthened the impression that she has greater political ambitions, too. Within the months after the 2020 election, as Trump’s fees of a stolen election swirled and because the nation grappled with the fallout from the Jan. 6 rebel, Griswold appeared ceaselessly on CNN and MSNBC.

She discussed with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow how Mesa County clerk Peters allegedly compromised voting gear, an act that in the end compelled Griswold to decertify the county’s voting machines. In an appearance earlier this year, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle requested her about how she will be able to guarantee there’s a “protected and safe election” in her state after Republican lawmakers within the state’s Common Meeting proposed thanking Jan. 6 protestors.

“There are nice folks on either side of the political divide who work in election administration,” Griswold answered, “however we’re seeing President Trump and his extremism take over.”

She continued: “It’s going to be essential for voters to concentrate to who’s operating for native election officers and secretaries of state, as a result of we can’t permit individuals who don’t imagine in the suitable to vote to supervise elections or administer them.”

There are occasions in these interviews when the road between a pro-voting assertion and marketing campaign promotion get blurrier. In a February interview on CBS News, Griswold urged viewers to go to her reelection marketing campaign web site after discussing Peters’ announcement that she would run for secretary of state.

“She has squandered her credibility, squandered the presumption of equity and objectivity as secretary of state,” stated Dick Wadhams, a Republican political advisor. “We’ve by no means had a secretary of state like that in Colorado earlier than.”

Different election officers disagreed, saying Griswold is merely defending her workplace, and democracy, towards conspiracy theorists. “The secretary of state’s workplace has turn out to be extra politicized not due to what Jena has performed, however due to the ‘Large Lie,’” stated Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, Pueblo County clerk and recorder, a Democrat and president of the state’s county clerks affiliation. “I don’t assume that politicization is on her; it’s on the individuals who imagine within the ‘Large Lie.’”

Griswold can also be difficult the false declare that Biden stole the election in her work as chair of the Democratic Affiliation of Secretaries of State. She employed full-time workers for the primary time in its historical past, and the group set a fundraising objective of $15 million for this election cycle, about eight occasions greater than it raised in 2019 and 2020.

Now, 4 years after her election, the highlight on her workplace is much brighter and much harsher than she might have imagined. The talk over election safety and security in Colorado reached such a fever pitch that Griswold, who favors blazers in jewel tones, is acknowledged as she walks down the road. However that’s not the one value of getting a better profile.