Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but as readers know Trump remains the most powerful individual within the Republican Party today–a grip that tightened in Trump’s first year out of office as the GOP purged itself of dissenters, and enforced a litmus test on Republican candidates requiring them to maintain (or at least not publicly dispute) that the 2020 presidential election was wrongfully decided. Loyalty to Trump, hostility toward both Democrats and disloyal Republicans, and unquestioning belief in what’s become known as the “Big Lie” have effectively displaced conservative policy goals as the Republican Party’s reason for existence.
The rise of Trump and the “post-truth” politics he rode to prominence on have spawned a new wave of Republican candidates, who like Trump subsist on appeals to the lowest common denominator and have no strategic interest in making factual arguments. In some cases, like freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, Trump was the catalyst to make the jump into public life. Others, like the three 2022 candidates for federal office we’re discussing today, predate Trump but still owe their own rises to prominence to Trump’s.
Weld County Commissioner and absent-minded pistolpacker Lori Saine running in a hot GOP primary for the state’s new highly competitive CD-8, state Rep. Dave Williams challenging Doug Lamborn in CD-5, and state Rep. Ron Hanks who literally blasted his way into the U.S. Senate GOP primary, are along with Boebert running as unapologetic MAGA loyalists–who agree with Trump that there’s no “moving on” until what they believe and don’t even try to tell them different was a stolen election is overturned. Hanks and Williams have tag-teamed community meetings in El Paso County on the subject, and Hanks regularly appears in Grand Junction to support embattled Clerk Tina Peters as the wire fraud investigation against her continues. One of Saine’s final acts before exiting the state legislature in 2020 was to convene a half-baked Legislative Audit Committee hearing that ended up reaffirming Colorado’s elections are safe and secure.
The reason that none of these candidates can be written off in their respective primaries is simple: a majority of Republicans agree with them on the subject of the 2020 election. Despite a lack of any evidence, multiple counts and recounts, audits both legitimate and not so much concluding that the results are accurate, if the polling of GOP primary voters is correct this could be their single issue in 2022.
Saine, Williams, Hanks, and Boebert are all counting on it.