Two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary election, Republican candidates running for the US Senate and Governor continue to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, showing how far the GOP campaign remains at the mercy of claims. extreme and baseless elections of former President Donald Trump.
Both offices are hotly contested and could be critical to the outcome of the 2024 presidential election in Pennsylvania, when Trump could run again, whether he certifies election results or dictates electoral laws in the state of the battlefield.
But, while Republicans have made rage over the 2020 election a staple of this year’s mid-term primary campaigns to appeal to GOP voters loyal to Trump, such messages could be a stumbling block in the general election campaign of Trump. autumn, pollsters say.
There, Republicans can be expected to focus on inflation, the economy and the performance of President Joe Biden, especially considering that Americans continue to feel pessimistic about the country’s direction and the national economy.
Democrats, however, appear poised to revisit Trump’s baseless electoral fraud claims, linking them to the January 6 uprising on the US Capitol and the resulting army of Republican-sponsored election laws that Democrats frame as an attack on the rights of vote.
The Pennsylvania primary election will be held on May 17, with large, wide-open Republican camps vying for nominations for the open seat in the United States Senate and the open governor’s office.
Efforts to overturn elections and change electoral laws in Pennsylvania and other battlefield states that Trump lost are part of the larger story unfolding in some GOP primaries.
Many of the unsubstantiated claims target Pennsylvania, taken over by Trump by the Democrats in 2020.
Candidates sometimes repeat Trump’s conspiracy theories about fraud or distort the actions of state officials and judges in an attempt to portray Democrats as having cheated, or both.
In the Senate race, five of seven primary-camp Republicans refused to say whether they would vote to certify the result of the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential election, in which Biden beat Trump by 80,000 votes, according to the official tally.
Such a stance puts them on the sidelines not only of the Senate, which voted 92-7 for certification, but also of the Senate Republican caucus, including the man they hope to replace, retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
Only the Trump-approved Mehmet Oz – better known as the heart surgeon turned celebrity on “The Dr. Oz Show” – and real estate investor Jeff Bartos say they would vote to certify the election.
“When it comes to the Senate, it’s not my job, nor should it be, to question what the states have said,” Oz said in a recent interview.
However, Oz agrees with other Republican candidates that the 2020 elections have yet to be investigated and that the laws need to be changed.
Some go further.
“Indeed, we know the 2020 election was stolen,” Senate candidate Carla Sands said in a debate hearing last week.
In the run for governor, every candidate in the GOP’s nine-person camp vowed to repeal the Pennsylvania 2-year law that stipulated no-excuse mail-order voting.
Many Republicans on the Pennsylvania election campaign also talk about the need to expand Pennsylvania voter identification requirements and ban mailboxes. This is despite the fact that prosecutors identified perhaps only one case in the 2020 election of in-person voting fraud and zero evidence that mailboxes were a conduit for fraudulent ballot papers.
Prosecutors have filed charges in about five cases in which voters, all Republicans, voted for a dead relative or spouse. This gives gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta his punchline.
“Listen, we know the dead have voted in Pennsylvania all their lives and now they don’t even have to leave the cemetery to vote,” Barletta said at a hearing last week. “They can mail their ballot papers. I’ll get rid of it. “
Voting by mail is, he said, “ripe for fraud, the collection of ballot papers. We could go on forever. “
Among the claims about the 2020 election is that widespread election fraud has occurred, but an Associated Press review found fewer than 475 cases of potential election fraud in the six states that Trump is contesting – a number that would not have done any. difference in elections.
A candidate for governor, state Senator Doug Mastriano, who claims the election was skewed by a fraud against Trump, proposed a plan to the legislature to overturn it and was sued by the Congressional committee investigating the case. January 6 uprising on the US Capitol over the creation by the GOP of an alternative list of voters.
He said that, if elected, he would require voters to “re-register. We will start all over again. “
This, however, is prohibited by the National Voter Registration Act and likely runs into significant protections under the constitution and federal and possibly state laws, constitutional law scholars say.
Democratic candidates have not shied away from emphasizing the GOP’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election – and pollsters who interviewed about it say the majority are skeptical of the allegations of election fraud and subsequent investigations.
“Trying to make this a problem, a fundamental electoral problem, does more harm than good for Republicans,” said Christopher Borick, a pollster and professor of political science at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. “And it is night and day, primaries against general elections”.
Recently at a campaign stop in Potter County, Josh Shapiro, the incumbent state attorney general who is unchallenged for Democratic Governor nomination, made the subject a key part of his speech.
The election lies led to lawsuits to overturn the elections, the January 6 uprising and then legislation in state capitals to restrict voting rights, Shapiro told listeners. Republican voting legislation was passed in some states but vetoed in Pennsylvania by Democrat Governor Tom Wolf.
“But make no mistake, they are coming back,” Shapiro told the crowd. “And I will always stand up and protect our democracy. I will always stand up and make sure you have the right to vote and be heard in our system.”
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