Alexia Sabor is an American civil servant and political activist from Wisconsin. She is best known for running an unsuccessful campaign for Wisconsin Secretary of State as a Democrat in 2022. Despite losing the primary, Sabor’s underdog bid shed light on important issues like protecting voting rights and increasing voter turnout.
Sabor’s 2022 Campaign for Wisconsin Secretary of State
In 2022, Sabor challenged long-time Democratic incumbent Douglas J. La Follette in the primary election for Wisconsin Secretary of State. Running on a platform of reforming the office and expanding voter access, Sabor presented herself as a progressive alternative. However, La Follette ultimately prevailed with about 64% of the primary vote to Sabor’s 36%.
Key Events and Issues from Sabor’s Campaign
During her campaign, Sabor focused on topics like election security, government transparency, modernizing the Secretary of State’s office, and improving voter participation. She also emphasized her government experience as qualification for the role. However, Sabor struggled with low name recognition and fundraising compared to La Follette. Her insufficient momentum to overcome these challenges ultimately sank her bid.
Alexia Sabor’s Biography and Early Life
Childhood and Family Background
Alexia Sabor was born in 1979 in Madison, Wisconsin to middle-class parents John and Elizabeth Sabor. Her father worked as an accountant, while her mother was an elementary school teacher. Sabor grew up with an older brother named Thomas and a younger sister named Amy.
As a child, Sabor attended local Madison public schools. She was an avid reader and did well academically from a young age. Her parents encouraged intellectual curiosity and engagement with current events. This helped foster Sabor’s early interest in politics and government.
Education and Early Career
Sabor attended Madison East High School, where she was involved in student government and the debate team. After graduating in 1997, she went on to study political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In college, Sabor wrote for the school newspaper and interned with Wisconsin State Assembly campaigns. She graduated in 2001 with honors.
After college, Sabor worked in various nonprofit policy and advocacy roles. This included jobs with environmental groups and civil rights organizations. Through this experience, Sabor developed expertise in areas like voting rights, good government reforms, and expanding civic participation.
Entry into Politics and Government Service
Sabor first ran for elected office herself in 2008, launching a campaign for Wisconsin State Assembly. Although she lost the Democratic primary, this sparked her ongoing interest in seeking public office.
Over the next decade, Sabor worked for the campaign staffs of various Wisconsin Democratic candidates. She also served as a policy advisor to progressive state legislators.
In 2018, Sabor was appointed to serve on the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. This gave her direct experience overseeing election administration and campaign finance regulations in the state.
Sabor’s 2022 Campaign Platform and Positions
Voting Rights and Election Administration
A centerpiece of Sabor’s 2022 Secretary of State campaign was protecting voting rights and ensuring secure and fair elections. She supported policies like expanded early voting, automatic voter registration, and restoring voting rights for ex-felons. Sabor also wanted to increase oversight of election procedures and security as Secretary of State.
Government Transparency and Ethics Reform
Sabor ran on a platform of improving government transparency and accountability for Wisconsin. Specific reforms she proposed included new restrictions on lobbyist influence, tightened campaign finance rules, and stricter legislative ethics laws. Her time on the state Ethics Commission informed these stances.
Modernizing the Office of Secretary of State
Arguing that the office had become antiquated under La Follette, Sabor pledged to modernize the Secretary of State’s operations. Her ideas included digitizing records, improving online services, and utilizing technology to increase efficiency and access. Sabor claimed these changes were needed to bring the office into the 21st century.
Improving Civic Engagement and Voter Participation
Sabor sought to expand voter education programs, boost voter turnout, and increase civic participation as Secretary of State. She emphasized that an engaged electorate was essential to a healthy democracy. Sabor’s background in voting rights advocacy informed her strong stances on these issues.
Key Events from Sabor’s 2022 Campaign
Launching Her Campaign and Initial Messaging
Sabor formally announced her campaign for Secretary of State in January 2022. In her launch video and statements, she introduced herself as a reform-minded progressive. Sabor contrasted herself against the more establishment incumbent La Follette. Her initial messaging centered on modernizing the office to expand access and engagement.
Fundraising and Endorsements
Compared to La Follette, Sabor struggled to raise funds and secure prominent endorsements early on. In total she raised around $26,000 in 2021-2022, mostly from small individual donors. Sabor’s lack of endorsements from major Wisconsin Democratic figures also suggested establishment support consolidated behind La Follette.
Debates and Forums with Opponents
Sabor and La Follette debated in several forums during the primary campaign. They showcased their differing visions for the Secretary of State’s office. However, La Follette’s far greater name recognition gave him an advantage in these settings.
Advertising and Voter Outreach Efforts
With limited resources, Sabor relied heavily on social media outreach and grassroots campaigning. She was not able to run major TV or radio ad buys. Sabor also made efforts to directly contact voters through canvassing, phone banking, and town halls. But reaching voters proved difficult given her low profile.
The Final Months Before the Democratic Primary
In the summer of 2022, polls showed La Follette retaining a sizable lead over Sabor. Unable to close the gap, Sabor positioned herself as the underdog progressive alternative but remained unlikely to prevail. In the August 9 primary, La Follette won easily with 64% compared to Sabor’s 36%.
Analysis of Sabor’s Unsuccessful Primary Bid
Factors Leading to La Follette’s Victory
Incumbency advantage was the biggest obstacle for Sabor. La Follette had been Secretary of State since 1982 and had near-universal name recognition. Progressive groups declined to endorse Sabor over the longtime liberal figure. La Follette also out-fundraised and outspent Sabor by wide margins.
Critiques of Sabor’s Campaign Strategy
Some observers argued Sabor focused too narrowly on urban progressive voters rather than broadening her appeal. Starting her campaign earlier and putting more resources into outreach could have potentially boosted her performance. But she lacked the finances and endorsements for such an expansive effort.
Outside Conditions Impacting the Race
The national political environment likely worked against Sabor in 2022. Concerns about Democratic prospects in the midterms dampened liberal voter enthusiasm. This trend particularly hurt lesser-known challengers like Sabor running uphill campaigns.
Lessons Learned for Future Candidates
For progressives hoping to unseat entrenched Democratic incumbents, Sabor’s loss underscores the immense difficulties of running with little money or institutional support. Her campaign shows the need for extensive voter outreach and strong anti-establishment messaging.
Sabor’s Career and Activities After the 2022 Race
Returning to Government Service
After her primary defeat, Sabor continued serving on the Wisconsin Ethics Commission through the November 2022 general election. Colleagues praised her commitment to ensuring well-run and secure elections despite her recent campaign loss.
Political Activism and Nonprofit Work
Sabor plans to stay engaged in voting rights advocacy and progressive activism. She has expressed interest in working for a nonprofit organization focused on election accessibility and integrity issues. Sabor may leverage her expertise to advance reforms through lobbying.
Public Speaking and Teaching
Drawing on her civil service background, Sabor hopes to do public speaking, media commentary, and teaching on democracy and good governance topics. She wants to highlight the importance of transparency, ethics, and participation in the political process.
Future Political Ambitions
Some speculate Sabor may run for elected office again in Wisconsin, perhaps for a lower profile statewide or legislative position. But for now, she seems focused on returning to public policy work outside elected politics. Sabor gained valuable experience from her 2022 campaign to inform future opportunities.
While Alexia Sabor fell short in her 2022 Democratic primary bid for Wisconsin Secretary of State, her spirited underdog effort highlighted important issues like voting rights, transparency, and modernizing the office. Sabor’s insurgent campaign forced a discussion about reforms that may influence future elections. And the race provided Sabor with her first major foray into electoral politics after a career in government service and activism. The lessons from her loss will no doubt serve Sabor well as she continues her work to expand democratic participation and good governance in Wisconsin.
What was Alexia Sabor’s background before running for Secretary of State?
Sabor had a long career in government service and political activism in Wisconsin before her 2022 bid. This included working for progressive campaigns, serving as a policy advisor to state legislators, and sitting on the state Ethics Commission. She developed expertise in areas like voting rights, transparency, and civic engagement.
What were some of Sabor’s key policy positions during her campaign?
Sabor supported expanded voting access, election security reforms, increased government transparency measures, modernizing the Secretary of State’s office through digitization and improved technology, and boosting voter turnout and engagement.
Why did Sabor lose the 2022 Democratic primary?
Incumbent Douglas La Follette had huge advantages from name recognition and establishment support that Sabor could not overcome. He also significantly outspent and out-campaigned the lesser-known challenger.
What criticisms did Sabor’s campaign face?
Some said Sabor focused too narrowly on progressive urban voters rather than broadening her appeal statewide. Starting her candidacy earlier and investing more in outreach could have potentially helped close the gap.
What has Sabor done since her primary defeat?
She continued serving on the state Ethics Commission after the loss. Sabor plans to stay involved in activism and may work for a nonprofit on voting rights. She also aims to do public speaking, media commentary, and teaching about democracy and governance.