Incoming Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Thursday that he will pick a Republican who faced off against Donald Trump after the 2020 election to be the state’s top elections official.

As vice chairman of the Philadelphia Board of Elections, Al Schmidt was at the center of the defense of the 2020 ballot in Pennsylvania, a key presidential battleground that was narrowly picked for President Joe Biden. Triumph prematurely declared victory in the state and tried to Stop Philadelphia officials will count all ballots there. When Schmidt refused to comply, he became a target of the fury of Trump supporters.

Schmidt is Shapiro’s first cabinet pick, following a campaign against Trump-backed state Sen. Doug Mastriano in which election management took center stage.

In Pennsylvania, the chief election official, the Commonwealth Secretary of State, is nominated by the governor rather than elected.

«Al Schmidt has a proven record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights and standing up to extremism, even in the face of serious threats, and I am proud to nominate him to be the next Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,» Shapiro said. in a sentence.

Schmidt, who will receive a Presidential Citizens Medal from Biden on Friday, said he is «honored to have the opportunity to continue working to protect the integrity of our elections and strengthen our democracy.»

«Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and I look forward to working with anyone, regardless of party, to ensure they remain free and fair here in Pennsylvania, and that we do more to ensure all eligible voters have their voices heard. he added.

Schmidt, who resigned his post at the end of 2021 to head the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based nonpartisan and pro-democracy nonprofit group, testified before the House committee last year on January 6 about the threats he and his family faced in the midst of their efforts. to defend the 2020 vote. Schmidt linked the threats directly to those of Trump. November 2020 tweet who said he «refuses to look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty» in the Philadelphia election.

«After the president tweeted my name, calling me whatever he did, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not only me by name, but also members of my family, by name, their ages, our address, photos of our house, every detail you can imagine,» Schmidt testified.

Both Shapiro and Mastriano, who stood outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and led the effort in Pennsylvania to undo Biden’s victory, made their ability to pick the state’s top elections official central to their pitches to voters. Trump seemed to care deeply about the paper, tell the pennsylvania republicans in a video from last January: «Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate.»