The Big Lie by Donald Trump — his claim that the 2020 election was “stolen” — has become a litmus test for much of the Republican Party, so much so that more than half of voters in the 2022 midterm election will see a denier on their ballots.
Even more numerous, especially in the Pacific Northwest, are Republicans who have done a duck dive on Trump’s attack on democracy or voiced “reservations” in such a way as to appease the MAGA cult and avoid Trump’s wrath.
They do not present profiles in public courage.
Alek Skarlatos was one of three brave American tourists who tackled and disarmed an armed terrorist attacker in 2015 on a Paris bound train. The trio were honored at the Elysee Palace with France’s Legion of Honor. Now, Skarlatos is running for Congress in Oregon’s 4th District. When asked whether he believes the 2020 election was stolen, Skarlatos responded: “No comment.”
In Washington, U.S. Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley tried to straddle the issue. Until recently, consultant-crafted prose on her web site read: “The 2020 elections raised serious questions about the integrity of our elections. I believe that courts have an obligation to give all evidence of voter fraud a fair hearing.”
The web site was recently scrubbed of these words, supposedly to make room for posting Smiley’s platform in greater detail.
The squirming hasn’t stopped.
“Tiffany’s position has always been that Joe Biden is our duly elected president,” a campaign representative told Axios.
Yet, in a weekend CNN appearance, Smiley did a dodge when asked by host Dana Bash if Biden won “fairly” and “legitimately.”
The Northwest has deniers on the ballot, most notably U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin in Alaska and Joe Kent in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, who has charged without evidence that there was “rampant voter fraud” in 2020.
Kemp appeared at a Washington, D.C., rally protesting “persecution” of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol last year.
Eliminated in Washington’s August Top Two election was Loren Culp, the Trump endorsed challenger to Representative Dan Newhouse, R‑WA-04. Culp, previously the Republicans’ nominee for Governor in 2020, has refused to concede a race that he lost to Governor Jay Inslee by a half-million votes.
Two Republican governors, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Idaho Governor Brad Little, joined the 2020 Texas lawsuit which sought to overturn Biden’s victory in four battleground states. The suit was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. Curiously, Trump opposed Little in this year’s Republican primary.
Dunleavy kowtowed to the former president. Trump made his endorsement of the Alaska governor contingent that Dunleavy not supporting Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is seeking a new term. Dunleavy agreed to keep quiet.
Murkowski is facing Trump-backed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka in November. (Under ranked choice voting, the top four finishers in the August 16th preliminary round made the general election ballot.)
Tshibaka has given a wink and a nod to Trump’s attack on democracy, saying: “We don’t know the outcome of the 2020 election.”
Murkowski fully accepts Biden’s victory, as does Senator Mike Crapo, R‑Idaho. Oregon’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan told FiveThirtyEight this week that Biden won. So did Kim Schrier’s remaining Republican challenger, Matt Larkin, in an email to FiveThirtyEight.
As mentioned, one of the ten Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th insurrection, Dan Newhouse, survived elimination and accepts Biden’s win. But Newhouse has bombarded his Twitter followers with Republican talking points to show that he is a loyal soldier.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R‑Washington, announced on January 5th, 2021 that she would support objections to the Electoral College vote count “in states where there have been allegations of voter fraud.” She backtracked after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Representative Russ Fulcher, R‑Idaho, following in Trump’s footsteps, started questioning the 2020 election even before votes were cast and counted.
He went on Fox & Friends the fateful morning of January 6th, 2021, to say that “tens of millions of people who want to see action” on electoral votes, warning of “a real problem on our hands if we don’t act here.”
Trump’s attacks on our democracy notwithstanding, the Republicans’ biggest most militant, extreme voice on a Northwest general election ballot has to be Oregon Senate nominee Jo Rae Perkins. She is a longtime fan of the QAnon conspiracy cult, even emailing a message: “I stand with Q and the team.” It was hastily taken down by her consultant. Jo Rae Perkins is off, but running.