Republican election deniers lost in key races in 2022 midterms

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How did election deniers do in the 2022 midterms? Not great.

Republicans who refused to accept the 2020 presidential results and ran to control their state’s elections faltered last night. But there will still be a heavy presence of election deniers in Congress and state governments.

Republican secretary of state candidates in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin who have been called “election deniers” lost to or were trailing their Democratic opponents as of Wednesday morning.

But the picture in the House of Representatives is more favorable to these candidates. Of the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted on Jan. 6, 2021, to overturn the 2020 election results, at least 50 have already won reelection. That includes Reps. Jeff Duncan and William Timmons in South Carolina; Rep. Hal Rogers and Sen. Rand Paul in Kentucky; Rep. Jim Banks in Indiana; and Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Scott Perry in Pennsylvania.

But other races featuring incumbents who voted to overturn the 2020 election remain too close to call. Prominent far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado trailed challenger Adam Frisch in early election results. Her loss would be a major upset.

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Experts on democracy have observed a troubling trend this election cycle, with candidates favored by former president Donald Trump explicitly or not-so-explicitly running on a platform that signals they may not respect the vote totals if an election doesn’t swing their way. Early results indicated that voters on Tuesday rejected many of these candidates in races for statewide office in swing states.

“Election deniers were shown back of the hand across critical battlegrounds,” Center for American Progress President Patrick Gaspard wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “People got that democracy was indeed on the ballot.”

Overall, when it comes to candidates in control of election administration, voters seemed to reject these types of candidates, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker in Congress.

Republicans’ election denier problem was widespread this cycle

Some 300 candidates for congressional or statewide offices in Tuesday’s midterm elections had either fully denied President Joe Biden victory in the 2020 presidential election or raised questions about it without basis, according to multiple news organizations and other groups.

This includes several newcomers, including Ohio Senate nominee J.D. Vance, who won the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman and falsely claimed “there were certainly people voting illegally on a large-scale basis” in 2020. Alabama elected Republican Senate nominee Katie Britt, who has said “we have to get to the bottom of 2020 so people have that confidence.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who supported the idea that Republican state legislatures could override the popular vote in November 2020 — cruised to victory against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former governor and congressman.

Republican newcomer Anna Paulina Luna, who filled Crist’s open seat last night, falsely posted on social media in 2020 that the “election is compromised due to this software/ the coding or ‘glitch’ to FLIP votes to Biden.”

Secretaries of state in swing states swung away from election denial

But in competitive states, secretary of state candidates whose platforms included denial of the 2020 election result were behind in early election results Tuesday.

In Michigan, Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo, who has made repeated false electoral fraud claims, lost to Democrat Jocelyn Benson.

Arizona Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, who has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, was behind Democrat Adrian Fontes in early results. Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was also behind in early results but gave a fiery speech claiming “we are going to win this” and hinting she may challenge the election results.

And in Minnesota, Republican secretary of state candidate Kim Crockett, who said the 2020 election was “rigged,” was defeated by incumbent Steve Simon.

Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, who has falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen and founded a national coalition of secretary of state candidates who denied the election results, had a slight lead over Democrat Cisco Aguilar in early results, but the state’s final tally is not expected to be known for several days.

Efforts by 2020 election deniers to win secretary of state seats in swing states attracted special attention because secretaries of state are typically tasked with election administration.

Candidates who have made false claims about the 2020 election won secretary of state seats in solidly Republican states including Wyoming and Indiana. Diego Morales, who won the Indiana secretary of state race, has called the 2020 election a “scam” and made baseless claims of election fraud.

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

  • Steve Reilly
    Steve Reilly

    Investigative Reporter

    Steve Reilly is an investigative reporter for Grid focusing on threats to democracy.