More than 100 GOP primary election winners have embraced Trump’s stolen election claims
More than 100 Republicans who won their 2022 primary elections have supported and amplified Donald Trump’s baseless assertion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, a fraudulent claim that fuelled riots at the US Capitol and is central to a House committee investigation into the attack.
An analysis from The Washington Post, reviewing the field of candidates in this year’s races through 7 June primaries, has so far found that voters picked seven candidates for US Senate, 82 candidates for the House of Representatives, five for governor, four for state attorney general and one for secretary of state who have publicly denied or directly questioned the outcome of the 2020 election.
In total, voters have selected 149 candidates for statewide office and Congress who have repeated the former president’s claims or campaigned on platforms promoting “election integrity” and restoring “voter confidence” that Mr Trump himself undermined, expanding a nationwide strategy in GOP-dominated state legislatures to restrict ballot access and roll back voting rights.
Winning candidates identified by The Washington Post as embracing Mr Trump’s claims have cast doubt on Joe Biden’s victory, supported partisan-driven post-election “audits” in states Mr Biden won, signed on to a lawsuit to overturn results, or downplayed or sought to change the narrative of the 6 January attack.
Many candidates have explicitly endorsed using their office, if elected, to subvert the outcome of elections.
One of those candidates, Doug Mastriano, Trump’s pick for Pennsylvania’s governor, would have the authority to directly appoint the secretary of state, which oversees election administration and must sign off on election results before they are certified, potentially drawing chaos in the state if that appointee rejects the outcome.
Mr Mastriano also was at the US Capitol on 6 January. He organised a fleet of buses to Washington DC that day, according to receipts his campaign provided the House select committee. Video footage from the riots appears to show him near police barricades as rioters ripped them down. He said he left the assault when he determined it was “no longer a peaceful protest.”
This year’s midterm elections have glimpsed the staying power of the “stolen election” narrative and the lingering influence of Mr Trump, who sought to undermine the outcome of elections and discredit the results before a single ballot was even cast, despite a lack of evidence and testimony from members of his own inner circle that his claims were bogus.
Candidates and Republican legislators also have embraced the spurious “independent state legislature theory” that would allow Republican-controlled state legislatures to determine which presidential electors the state sends to Washington to certify the outcomes in presidential elections.
GOP officials could “invoke the theory as a pretext to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead select its own slate of electors,” creating a “nightmare scenario” that mirrors the plans proposed by Mr Trump’s allies following his election loss, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.
An analysis from States United Action found that election-denying candidates are running in all three top statewide positions in six states, as of 6 June.
At least 35 are running for governor in 20 states, at least 23 are running for secretary of state in 17 states, and at least 15 are running for attorney general in 13 states.
Over the last year, Republican state legislators have filed dozens of bills to change the rules of election administration and strip oversight from election officials, efforts that democratic advocates have warned could invite bogus fraud investigations or try to overturn results entirely.
State legislatures in 33 states introduced at least 229 such measures in 2022, according to an updated report on the state of antidemocratic efforts from States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy and Law Forward.
Since the organisations started tracking so-called “election subversion” bills in the aftermath of the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol fuelled by the “stolen election” narrative, 50 have been enacted or adopted.