How Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Have Gripped State Legislatures

How Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Have Gripped State Legislatures

Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature haven’t taken up Mr. Finchem’s measure. Russell Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona House and a Republican, said that the State Legislature could only appoint its own electors if “there was proven demonstrable fraud sufficient to cover whatever balance or a gap in voters that existed.” He added, “We did not even come close to that,” and he dismissed the Senate review as a “seat-of-the-pants circus.”

Republican leaders in other battleground states are facing similar upheavals surrounding so-called audit efforts. In Wisconsin, Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the House, at first resisted launching an outside “forensic audit.” But after public pressure from Mr. Trump, Mr. Vos relented and created a review helmed by Michael Gableman, a former State Supreme Court justice.

Mr. Gableman took the investigation in a different direction. When he released an initial report of his findings in March, Mr. Gableman argued for “decertification.” One state representative, Timothy Ramthun, has put the call to decertify at the center of his campaign for governor.

Legislative leaders have repeatedly acted as firewalls blocking anti-democratic efforts from moving forward. In the days after the election, the Republican speaker of the House and the Senate president from Michigan rebuffed Mr. Trump’s personal pleas to support an alternate slate of electors, even after being summoned to the White House.

Mr. Trump has not forgotten. Since then, he has made transforming the Michigan Legislature a pet project. He has endorsed 10 candidates for state legislative seats — including some who are challenging Republican incumbents — and is seeking to play kingmaker in the already brewing fight over who will be speaker of the House.

In the interview, Mr. Trump, who won seven million fewer votes than Mr. Biden, spread blame for his loss across several targets, including Mr. Pence, Mr. McConnell and state lawmakers.

“The legislatures, the local Republicans, lost the election,” he said.

Trump-endorsed candidates for state legislative seats have taken note.

Jonathan Lindsey, a Trump-endorsed candidate for the Michigan State Senate, said that at a minimum he thinks the State Legislature should vote on electors if an election is disputed. Regarding the 2020 election, he added: “If I were in that seat, I would have voted to send Trump electors.”

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