by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If election results spawn multiple lawsuits in the days ahead, you’re sure to read the name Marc Elias on more than one occasion. Ryan Mills and Tobias Hoonhout profile the Democratic legal eagle for National Review Online.
If the 2020 election ends up a battle in the courts — as many expect — Marc Elias will be the Democratic general directing an army of left-wing lawyers in their bid to win back the Senate and take down President Donald Trump.
A native New Yorker whom Politico has described as “quick-talking” and “Twitter-savvy,” Elias is the face of election law for Democrats, an image he’s spent decades crafting.
He’s best known as Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer who paid for the salacious Steele Dossier in 2016, and for leading the still-controversial 2008 Minnesota Senate recount that ended with Al Franken overtaking Republican Norm Coleman — giving Democrats the 60-seat majority they needed to pass the Affordable Care Act.
He also is the architect of the 2020 Democratic legal strategy that has involved filing dozens of lawsuits across the country challenging state election laws. While his legal victories often face multiple, drawn-out challenges, his 173,000-plus Twitter followers gives him the reach to cement narratives before they’ve actually happened. His bio — “Lawyer fighting for Democrats and voting rights for all” — pits him as a man interested in politics, but not at the expense of democracy.
Republican lawyers who have faced off against Elias describe an opponent who is smart, sophisticated, and hyper-aggressive with his litigation strategy, willing to go scorched earth if there’s a prayer of overturning an election result in his client’s favor.
But they also describe a lawyer prone to puffery, inflating the importance of his victories in the press and on social media, and then falling silent when those victories are overturned by higher courts. He paints himself as a crusader for voters, they say, but is at heart a partisan Democrat motivated to help Democrats win at any cost.