Democrats’ Elevation of Election Deniers Worked

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Politics

Throughout the late spring and into the summer, Democratic operatives made a series of risky choices to elevate Republican candidates who wholeheartedly embraced former President Donald Trump’s cornucopia of lies about the 2020 presidential election.In Republican primary after Republican primary, Democrats aired ads serving two purposes: promoting seemingly unelectable candidates to the GOP base while attacking them for a general election audience. The ads noted how close the Republican candidates were to Trump, played up their support for strict restrictions or bans on abortion and other things the GOP base loved but general election voters hated.AdvertisementOn election night, those risky bets paid off. All six of the election-denying candidates on the ballot whom Democrats boosted ― three gubernatorial candidates, two House candidates and a Senate candidate ― lost, most of them resoundingly.The strategy was met with scorn and incredulity from “never Trump” Republicans. Other Democrats from across the party’s ideological spectrum said the strategy was unwise, immoral or both. Thirty-five former Democratic elected officials signed a letter suggesting the party was playing with fire.“Our democracy is fragile, therefore we cannot tolerate political parties attempting to prop up candidates whose message is to erode our dedication to fair elections,” the officials wrote in August. Advertisement“Be careful what you wish for,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told HuffPost in July. “You may select somebody who actually wins, and then you hurt the country as well as your own party.”Not all of Democrats’ attempts to meddle worked. They tried to boost a conservative candidate running in Republican Rep. David Valadao’s district in the Central Valley of California to no avail, and they spent more than $4 million backing Ron Hanks in Colorado’ Senate primary.The cash in Colorado had become particularly controversial since some of it was used to promote the eventual GOP nominee, Joe O’Dea, as a moderate. But Sen. Michael Bennet (D) easily dispatched O’Dea, winning by 13 percentage points.Illinois Gov. J.B. Prtizker, a billionaire businessman, was the first to deploy the strategy, pouring tens of millions of dollars of his own money into the Democratic Governors’ Association, which aired ads boosting ultra-conservative state Sen. Darren Bailey in the primary. As of midnight on Tuesday, Prtizker was winning his race by roughly 14 percentage points. Democrats used similar tactics to ensure Republic …

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