A candidate to be Arizona’s top elections official said recently he hopes a review of 2020 ballots underway in his state will lead to the reversal of former president Donald Trump’s defeat there.
In Georgia, a member of Congress who used to focus primarily on culturally conservative causes such as opposing same-sex marriage has made Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen a central element of his bid to try to unseat the current secretary of state.
And in Virginia last month, a political novice who joined Trump’s legal team to try to overturn his 2020 loss in court mounted a fierce primary challenge — and won — after attacking a Republican state House member who said he had seen no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
“He wasn’t doing anything — squat, diddly,” Wren Williams said in an interview about his primary opponent. “He wasn’t taking election integrity seriously. I’m sitting here fighting for election integrity in the courts, and he’s my elected representative who can legislate and he’s not.”
Across the country, as campaigns gear up for a handful of key races this year and the pivotal 2022 midterms, Republican candidates for state and federal offices are increasingly focused on the last election — running on the falsehood spread by Trump and his allies that the 2020 race was stolen from him.
While most of these campaigns are in their early stages, the embrace of Trump’s claims is already widespread on the trail and in candidates’ messages to voters. The trend provides fresh evidence of Trump’s continued grip on the GOP, reflecting how a movement inspired by his claims and centered on overturning a democratic election has gained currency in the party since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Dozens of candidates promoting the baseless notion that the election was rigged are seeking powerful statewide offices — such as governor, attorney general and secretary of state, which would give them authority over the administration of elections — in several of the decisive states where Trump and his allies sought to overturn the outcome and engineer his return to the White House.
By Amy Gardner