Their election denier is your election denier

Conspiracy theorists subverting elections in several states could doom the whole republic

The breadth of election denial among Republican candidates for U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats and top statewide offices is astonishing. The Washington Post counts 291 of them in 48 states — the majority of them are expected to win and many more are strong contenders.

In the most alarming cases, they would have direct control over their state’s elections and could exert undemocratic, conspiratorial or outright deceitful influence over future elections, like the 2024 presidential contest, in which the GOP will almost certainly put up an authoritarian candidate, such as insurrection leader Donald Trump or, perhaps worse, cunning human rights abuser Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

Jim Marchant, the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Nevada, who is polling ahead of his Democratic opponent, exemplifies why even non-Nevadans should be scandalized by the strength of his campaign.

Mark Finchem, a Republican state representative in Arizona who could become secretary of state, has said he would not have certified the 2020 election. The election denier also uses antisemitic tropes, was part of the Jan. 6 mob that marched on the U.S. Capitol, and is tied to the Oath Keepers, the militia that helped plan the insurrection. 

Arizona is like a conspiracy theory clinic. The Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, is so delirious with stolen-election fever that she claimed the recent Arizona primary election was rigged against her, even though she won.

Even in a state like Colorado, with its national reputation for conducting gold-standard elections, five of the Republican candidates for the 12 congressional and top statewide offices qualify as election deniers. 

Trump’s attempted coup relied in part on the willingness of state-level officials to help subvert legitimate election results. Dozens of Republicans across the country, including in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, plotted to send pro-Trump fake-elector slates to Washington to supplant the true electors.