Republican candidates who believe Trump’s Big Lie are winning primaries

OPINION: While some of these Trump candidates who believe the 2020 election was stolen may not win key battleground contests in November, the bigger issue is that Republicans seem only interested in maintaining power by controlling state election systems.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters during a "Save America" rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Trump is no longer president, but the Trump cult continues to peddle his Big Lie—that the 2020 election was stolen from the former president. More than 100 Republican candidates for office—in statewide, U.S. House and Senate races—are drinking the orange Kool-Aid and promoting Trump’s bogus claims the 2020 election was rigged and a fraud.

More specifically, these GOP foot soldiers for Trump are running for office, especially statewide-level offices such as secretary of state and attorney general that control the state’s election apparatus and the levers of power. These candidates hope to win so they can rig elections and hand the White House back to Trump in 2024. And we can’t let that happen.  

One of the Republican candidates to watch is Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator and GOP nominee for governor who would turn the state’s electoral process into a hot mess if elected. A believer in rampant electoral fraud against Trump in the 2020 election, Mastriano as governor would have the power to appoint the secretary of state, the person who administers state elections. Mastriano wants the power to decertify voting in every county “with the stroke of a pen,” make it easier for poll watchers to challenge voters, force all voters to reregister and eliminate mail-in ballots.

A crucial player in the “Stop the Steal” efforts to send Trump Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to Congress from a state that Biden won, Mastriano hired as his legal adviser Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who worked on overturning the 2020 election. Plus, Mastriano participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which should tell you all you need to know about his lack of integrity and moral character, if not his potential criminal exposure.

In Michigan, the presumptive Republican nominee for secretary of state is Kristina Karamo, a Black community college instructor and Trump favorite who is an anti-vaxxer and anti-abortion advocate. The QAnon-affiliated candidate claims she witnessed widespread fraud in absentee vote counting in Detroit in the 2020 election. Karamo claimed Trump won Michigan in 2020 and called for the imprisonment of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat.   

Kristina Karamo, who is running for the Michigan Republican party’s nomination for secretary of state, gets an endorsement from former President Donald Trump during a rally on April 02, 2022 near Washington, Michigan. Trump is in Michigan to promote his America First agenda promote several Michigan Republican candidates. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Trump candidates for statewide office in Maryland were victorious this week in their primary bids. Dan Cox, the GOP nominee for governor, is an election denier who said Biden’s win should not have been certified and called former Vice President Mike Pence a traitor. Cox also organized busloads of protesters to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally before the Capitol insurrection.

The GOP nominee for Maryland attorney general, Michael Peroutka, faces Rep. Anthony Brown in the general election. Peroutka is a neo-Confederate secessionist who calls the separation of church and state the “great lie,” refuses to recognize abortion and marriage equality as the law of Maryland and says public education should be eliminated because it is part of a Communist plot.

If elected, dangerous individuals such as these would wield power over their state election systems, rigging and stealing elections as they please and determining the outcome they want. The Supreme Court could even grant these GOP state officials the right to rig federal elections under a bankrupt and corrupt legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine. The court will hear a case in the fall that involves this doctrine. However, if Republican-controlled states fail to overturn the 2024 presidential election, a GOP-controlled Congress could create a constitutional crisis and overturn the election as a last resort.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates for the U.S. House and Senate are an assortment of sketch artists, hustlers and grifters, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists, crackpots, buffoons and useful idiots. And some of them, as Trump would say, are good people. But more importantly, they are loyal Trumpists, which means voters should be concerned if they take control of Congress in the midterms.

For example, former football star Herschel Walker is running against Sen. Raphael Warnock for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Being a Heisman Trophy winner and appearing in a McDonald’s commercial four decades ago do not make Walker a qualified Senate candidate. This Trump favorite, who speaks gibberish on the campaign trail, is not ready for primetime, much less the Senate. Yet Walker, who has faced allegations of domestic violence, making physical threats and stalking, and lying to his own campaign staff about his secret children, is the Republican Party’s choice for Senate. And if Walker is elected, he would replace Tommy Tuberville of Alabama as the dumbest senator.    

Herschel Walker
Former Heisman Trophy winner and candidate for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump during a March rally at the Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. (Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Pennsylvania Senate candidate, is a TV celebrity who ditched Oprah and won Trump’s endorsement by embracing the Big Lie. Oz lives in New Jersey but claims to own a home in the state and did attend the University of Pennsylvania. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic opponent, used Snooki from Jersey Shore to drag Oz over his state residency. And when Oz visited the competing Philly cheesesteak restaurants Pat’s and Geno’s, Fetterman called his opponent’s photo op “a rite of passage for any tourist.”  

Ultimately, some of these Trump candidates may not win these key battleground contests. That’s not the point. The bigger picture is the Republicans, who have not offered any policies that appeal to people—and offer little more than human rights violations and state-sponsored violence—care about keeping power. Unwilling to embrace democracy and fair elections, the GOP prefers to steal elections by controlling the levers of power: the running of the election apparatus. This is why you must vote out all Republicans in the midterms.

Democrats under Biden have had their failures along with successes—poor messaging and missed opportunities, getting bogged down in policy papers and an unwillingness to fight Republicans rather than progressives and fully use the power the voters gave them in 2020. Yet, even those who are unhappy with the Democratic Party’s shortcomings must get out and vote in November.

Understand that if you want reparations, control over your own body and the right to marry who you love, voting rights, climate justice legislation and so many other things, none of this will happen without voting out the Republicans in the midterms. Most importantly, if you want future elections, you won’t get anything if you don’t vote and allow a Republican victory. And once you let the GOP in, they will never leave and will stay forever like luggage. As Charlie Kirk said, “we’re not going to give that power back.”

America never was a true multiracial democracy, but if we don’t stop these clowns and comic-book villains, we definitely won’t have one.

David A. Love is a journalist and commentator who writes investigative stories and op-eds on a variety of issues, including politics, social justice, human rights, race, criminal justice and inequality. Love is also an instructor at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, where he trains students in a social justice journalism lab. In addition to his journalism career, Love has worked as an advocate and leader in the nonprofit sector, served as a legislative aide, and as a law clerk to two federal judges. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also completed the Joint Programme in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. His portfolio website is

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