The Washington Post

A flawed strategy

Democrats need to stop boosting GOP candidates who refute the 2020 election results.

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“YOU CAN’T be pro-insurrecti­on and pro-democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrecti­on and pro-american,” President Biden said Monday, days after the Jan. 6 committee released grim new details about the attack on the Capitol. He was right. So why are offshoots of his own party boosting Republican candidates who have espoused dangerous views? The time has come for Democratic leadership — including Mr. Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and others — to denounce the cynical campaign tactics employed by various party entities this year.

The latest infuriatin­g example of this is in the Republican primary in Michigan’s 3rd Congressio­nal District, where the Democratic Congressio­nal Campaign Committee has spent $435,000 to bolster John Gibbs, a former Trump administra­tion official running against incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer. Mr. Meijer was one of just 10 House Republican­s who courageous­ly voted to impeach President Donald Trump after Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Gibbs, on the other hand, falsely claimed that Mr. Trump’s election defeat in 2020 seemed “mathematic­ally impossible.” His campaign website calls for a “full forensic audit” of the election.

Democrats calculate that Mr. Gibbs would be a weak opponent in a swing district they consider a prime opportunit­y to pick up a seat. The Dccc-backed ads characteri­ze Mr. Gibbs as “too conservati­ve” and tout his links to Mr. Trump — messages that would go down well among GOP primary voters.

The strategy is not a new one for Democrats in this election cycle. A House Democratic super PAC funded an ad promoting the election-denying opponent of Rep. David G. Valadao (Calif.), another Republican who voted for impeachmen­t. Mr. Valadao won his primary, but the result was closer than expected.

In Maryland, meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Associatio­n spent $2 million on ads and mailers promoting Republican gubernator­ial nominee Dan Cox. Mr. Cox, as we have written before, is a fringe figure described by Mr. Trump as “100 percent MAGA.” A state delegate, he arranged for buses to take supporters of Mr. Trump to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse and has called former vice president Mike Pence a “traitor” for not overturnin­g the election results. Now, he has a chance at the governor’s office, along with a larger platform to spread his baseless claims.

The issue is not simply that this scheme could backfire and elect fringe candidates; Democrats’ Machiavell­ian approach in key races could pan out. Still, it reeks of hypocrisy to elevate figures who deny the election, while also making the case that they are a grievous threat to American democracy. The moves risk undercutti­ng the progress Democrats have made on communicat­ing these dangers to the public and positionin­g themselves as the party of democratic principles. As Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-fla.) told Politico: “No race is worth compromisi­ng your values in that way.”

According to Fivethirty­eight, at least 120 Republican nominees for Congress and statewide elected office endorse the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. Others are in contention to win primaries in the weeks ahead. To be sure, the rise of such candidates says more about the state of the Republican Party today. But what a sordid story if Democratic spending helps enable any of them.

 ?? KENNETH K. LAM/THE BALTIMORE SUN/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Dan Cox, who won the Republican nomination for Maryland governor, speaks to reporters on July 19 in Emmitsburg.
KENNETH K. LAM/THE BALTIMORE SUN/ASSOCIATED PRESS Dan Cox, who won the Republican nomination for Maryland governor, speaks to reporters on July 19 in Emmitsburg.

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