Election deniers lose attempts to control elections in critical battleground states
Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano with his wife Rebbie at a campaign rally Sept. 15, 2022, in suburban Philadelphia. (Peter Hall/Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
Several prominent Republican candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election lost their races Tuesday, but other critical races featuring election deniers have not been called.
Going into Election Day, election deniers were on the ballot in around half of the races for governor and secretary of state and one-third of the races for attorney general, according to States United for Democracy. All three statewide positions play critical roles in overseeing elections.
While election deniers have so far fared better in races for the U.S. House, aligning with former President Donald Trump and denying election results did not prove to be a good electoral strategy for statewide races to control elections. Election deniers so far have lost races for governor in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and races for secretary of state in Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico.
Both Florida and Ohio shifted to the right on Tuesday, and election deniers rode that wave to victory in races for U.S. Senate in Ohio with the election of J.D. Vance and attorney general in both states.
But for the most part, election deniers fared worse than polls predicted, which will likely leave the Republican Party at a juncture where it must decide if aligning with Trump’s claims is an advantageous strategy moving into 2024.
Secretary of state
While two critical races for secretary of state in Nevada and Arizona had not been called as of Wednesday morning, some election-denying candidates for chief election official lost their races on Tuesday.
In Michigan, incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson beat Republican Kristina Karamo, a community college professor who worked the polls in 2020 and claimed the election was fraudulent. She alleged without evidence that votes were incorrectly counted for Joe Biden and that “thousands” of ballots were dropped off in the middle of the night.
“In this election, democracy was on the ballot. Our right to vote was on the ballot. And tonight, democracy won here in Michigan,” Benson said in a statement, according to the Michigan Advance. “Michiganders showed the world that Michigan voters will vote for truth over lies. They will vote for facts over conspiracy theories.”
In her statement, Benson also said that “conspiracy theorists and election deniers” aren’t going away but she “will not back down.”
For her part, Karamo shared baseless allegations throughout the night that some Michigan counties were not abiding by state election law and that at least one election official in Ann Arbor was “engaging in mass election crimes.”
Several prominent election-denying gubernatorial candidates also fared poorly on Tuesday. In Wisconsin, Tim Michels lost to Democratic incumbent Tony Evers after Michels said he would consider legislation to decertify the 2020 election results.
In Michigan, incumbent Gretchen Whitmer declared victory over Republican Tudor Dixon. Dixon has said she believes that Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan.
And in Pennsylvania, election denier Doug Mastriano lost his race to Democrat Josh Shapiro. Mastriano was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and helped thousands of others come to the event. He had said that his pick for the Pennsylvania’s secretary of state position, which is chosen by the governor, would require everyone to “re-register” to vote, a requirement that would violate the National Voter Registration Act.
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