Nevada Republican Jim Merchant insisted that his state had not held a valid election in more than a decade. All of Nevada’s election winners since 2006, he said on a recent podcast, were “founded by the deep-state cabal.”
But when Merchant won the Republican nomination for Nevada’s secretary of state this week, he immediately legitimized the victory.
“I am overwhelmed by the overwhelming support for our campaign. Nevadan heard his voice,” Marchant announced on social media.
Such inconsistency has become a hallmark of election denials in Republican primary contests across America in the midterm this year. Dozens of GOP candidates seeking the support of former President Donald Trump in Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere spent months busting their unsubstantiated claims of 2020 election fraud, but then recounting such claims in their own elections. Declared victory without raising concerns.
Amidst such hypocrisy, many Republican candidates are still vowing to pursue a series of election reforms that could make voting more difficult — especially for those who traditionally support Democrats. In the name of electoral integrity.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison warned that “MAGA Republicans will do anything in their desperate pursuit for power.”
Harrison told the Associated Press, “From undermining our democracy by spreading Trump’s big lies, laying the groundwork for trying to annul votes when they don’t agree with the result, but if they win.” If you go, you shut up, this is the Republican Party of today.”
In Nevada on Tuesday, Merchant was among the election denialists who secured their spot on November’s ballot without questioning the validity of the results. The group included candidates for the Senate, the state treasurer and the Las Vegas-area congressional seat. This is even as most counties relied on Dominion voting machines, which remain the target of conspiracy theories by Trump and his allies.
The incident extends far beyond Nevada.
In Pennsylvania, the Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano led a state Senate hearing in which witnesses — including former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani — made false claims about widespread voter fraud. Maastriano was also outside the US Capitol when a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the building during the deadly 2021 uprising. And he later tried to bring about a partisan electoral audit in Pennsylvania, before his committee chairmanship was taken away by his own party.
Maastriano made no mention of voter fraud as he declared victory last month for governor of Pennsylvania’s Republican primary.
“God is good,” smiling Mastiano said to the enthusiastic supporters.
The Maastriano campaign declined to answer a question about the apparent double standard.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also ignored questions about his conflicting position on voter fraud.
Paxton fought his way past month after spending much of the past year battling for Trump’s bogus claims of election fraud. After Joe Biden’s presidential victory, Paxton filed a legal challenge to the election results in four battleground states. He asked the US Supreme Court to set him aside and allow Republican-controlled state legislatures to determine the winner.
Seventeen other Republican state attorneys general supported the effort.
The High Court dismissed the challenge three days after the lawsuit was filed, finding that Texas did not stand to sue other states over how they conduct their elections. And the state bar moved to discipline Paxton just days after his primary victory, claiming his major role in petitioning the Supreme Court to block Biden’s victory was “dishonest.”
State and federal election officials across the country and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence that the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also dismissed by courts, including by the judges appointed by him.
But after nearly two years of Trump’s persistent claims that the election had been “stolen” by hundreds of Republican candidates across America seeking their support, an extraordinary number of Americans have lost faith in the US election system.
According to a February Associated Press-NORC poll, only 45% of American adults said they have significant confidence that votes will be counted correctly in the 2022 midterm election, and 30% have some confidence. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to be very confident, 66% versus 24%.
Polls show that most Republicans are skeptical about the 2020 presidential election. According to an Associated Press-NORC poll, in July 2021, 68% of adults – but only 33% of Republicans – said Biden was legitimately elected president. Sixty-six percent of Republicans said he was not legitimately elected.
In addition to key state officials, several Trump-backed Senate candidates have fueled the specter of electoral fraud — skipping their primary victory speeches in recent weeks.
Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschelle Walker repeatedly claimed Biden’s victory was tainted by fraud last year and even called for seven swing states to vote for Trump again. Went. Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance claimed the 2020 election was “rigged” or “stolen.” Republican congressional North Carolina Senate nominee Ted Budd on the day of his May primary victory declined to say that Biden had won the 2020 presidential election. And the Pennsylvania Republican nominee for Senate Mehmet Oz said there was “definitely” widespread fraud in his state, even as the evidence says otherwise.
No one made the same claims about their primary victory.
In Nevada, state GOP President Michael McDonald said Merchant was not hypocritical in admitting his primary victory was because he had questions about the vote count in the Las Vegas area.
“He was questioning the results last night even though he was winning, which I found admirable,” McDonald said, recounting the 1:30 p.m. phone call with Merchant.
Merchant did not respond to requests for comment, but his campaign adviser, Rory McShane, said he has questions about voting in Clark County, which relies on Democrats and where most of the state’s population lives, for them to call races. despite.
There couldn’t be a more vocal proponent of Trump’s unfounded claims of electoral fraud than the 66-year-old former unsuccessful congressional candidate Merchant.
Merchant was present in Carson City when the party sent Congress a dueling slate of electoral votes in December 2020. During the primaries, he was a fixture at Rural County Commission meetings during discussions about Dominion voting machines and potentially switching to manual vote counting. And he has toured the country with other 2020 election deniers, using phrases and terminology associated with QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Cisco Aguilar, a Democrat running against Merchant, called Republican statements about the 2020 election, voting machines and mail-in ballots out of touch with reality.
In an interview, Aguilar said that he felt a great deal of responsibility following Merchant’s victory and said that he was now weighing questions he did not anticipate entering the race, such as whether it was up to debate. To agree would be to give a conspiracy theorist a platform.
“They have caused a great deal of fear among a subgroup of individuals in Nevada,” Aguilar said. “I don’t even know if you can argue with someone who isn’t willing to listen.”
Peoples reported from New York and Metz reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writers Hannah Fingerhut in Washington, Mark Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.