former President Donald Trump False claims of stolen elections have been debunked by courts, their own Justice Department, and counts several times.
but on the battlefield Pennsylvania Where Trump lost by 80,000 votes eight months ago, he is seeing new signs of life.
A Republican state lawmaker, strengthened by the support of top Republican candidates, has launched a push for a “forensic investigation” of the results of the presidential election, a review based on a widely discredited process. Arizona
The effort is likely to face legal challenges and is still limited to three counties, where it is also facing pushback from Republican commissioners. But its going ahead is forcing many to stop seeing it as a legislator’s favorite project and take it seriously.
The audit has increasingly become a litmus test in an election cycle where an open gubernatorial office and an open US Senate seat – the political equivalent of a Blue Moon – have triggered fiercely competitive Republican primaries.
some of it GOP Party officials and donors are groaning uneasily, though quietly. Some Republicans worry privately that the spectacle of a lengthy election audit is a time bomb that will damage not only the state’s democratic institutions, but also the party’s credibility with significant swing voters.
The former congressman said, “Most Republicans I know have, at least, misunderstood and, at worst, are like me and feel that this is truly a mistake of epic proportions.” Charlie Dent A centrist Republican from the Allentown area. “Why Bring the Arizona Joker Show to Pennsylvania?”
Those concerns have been easily brushed off by supporters of the effort.
One, State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has claimed that Trump “asked” me to run for governor, is kingpinning the audit campaign and shutting it down.
“I am calling for a transparent and thorough investigation to prove to American voters that our votes were counted correctly and that we have nothing to worry about,” Maastriano wrote in an email appeal late last week. “
One rival, former Congressman Lou Barlett, who is running for governor, has said he was in for an audit in December.
Earlier this month, Maastriano sent letters to three counties — including Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold and the state’s largest city — requesting access to a comprehensive list of information, documents and equipment, including summons for holdouts. with the danger of.
Tom Wolf and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, both Democrats, have vowed to fight the court summons, which Republicans hope will shorten the life of an audit of Trump’s antics.
Subpoenas are a tool lawmakers have rarely used in the past; it is unclear whether a court would block such an effort, order counties to comply or simply choose not to intervene, said Duquesne University. Law professor Bruce Ledwitz, who teaches constitutional law.
“Maybe no court is going to stand in the way,” he predicted. “But that doesn’t mean you get any kind of enforceable enforcement order.”
Meanwhile, Maastriano has left key questions unanswered, including who will do the work, how it will be funded and where such vast amounts of documents and equipment will be safely stored.
That hasn’t stopped US Senate or gubernatorial candidates from supporting it.
Sean Parnell, a US Senate candidate, said that not relying on “half-state” election results is a problem that can be solved with an audit, and dismissed official state and county audits as mere “recounts”. which were insufficient for investigation. Alleged that something wrong happened.
“And now after the fact, that people are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe there were some problems,’ they just blow us all up and say, ‘No, no, screw you, you don’t know. That’s what you’re ‘talking about,’ like, ‘You’re a bunch of crazy conspiracy theorists,'” Parnell told a radio show host on Wednesday.
In Arizona, the Republican leadership of the Senate launched an unprecedented partisan audit of votes in Maricopa County, home of Phoenix, despite the fact that the votes had already been counted, recounted and certified. The effort has been supported by several Republican state lawmakers, state party chairman Kelly Ward and state Attorney General Mark Branovich, a Republican running for the US Senate.
However, it has drawn strong criticism from some other establishment Republicans, including those controlling the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; Cindy McCain, wife of the late senator and GOP presidential candidate; and former US Sen. Jeff Fleck. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has completely avoided the topic.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Party and Senate Republican leaders have responded with silence.
Many Republicans who want to distance the party from the audit question the cost of complying with Maastriano’s demands. He argues that it is time to focus on future elections or say that it is highly unlikely that it will uncover the smoking gun evidence of widespread fraud.
“At the end of the day, I don’t know what you’re going to achieve,” said GOP President Sam DeMarco of Allegheny County, home of Pittsburgh.
Still, even Republicans who avoid repeating Trump’s election fraud claims have upheld the idea that Democrats cheated.
They routinely discredit the actions of state judges and officials as “unconstitutional” or “illegal,” settling legal disputes and questions over Pennsylvania’s fledgling mail-in voting law in the weeks leading up to the November election. are in.
Weeks earlier, Republican leaders in the State House of Representatives refused to conduct such a 2020 election audit through their chamber.
Instead, those Republican lawmakers pushed for a “Voting Rights Protection Act” that, they said, would make elections more secure and accessible and fix the perceived problems of 2020.
In addition, it would have shifted authority over election policy away from the executive branch and delegated broad new election-auditing authority in future elections to the state auditor general, currently a Republican.
Democrats dismissed the bill as “voter repression” and Wolf vetoed it, but it prompted Republican Party figures to point to, at least, an Arizona-style audit of the 2020 election as an alternative. given for
“I think that’s the issue,” said GOP president Jeffrey Piccola in Republican-controlled York County. “I don’t think going back to 2020 will solve any problems, and I’m not sure you can solve any problems.”
Follow Mark Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter