Donald Trump has set the price of admission for Republicans in the midterm elections, and probably the next presidential race: an embrace of the big lie that he was cheated out of office by a historic voter fraud operation.
The former President’s effort to turn 2022 polls into a personal revenge mission and to replenish his personality cult got a big boost Monday when a comrade-in-arms, Rep. Mo Brooks, launched an Alabama US Senate run.
Brooks is the latest Republican to seek to leverage his efforts to thwart a democratic election as a springboard for higher office. He led a push in the House to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory after telling Trump supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally that turned into the Capitol insurrection on January 6: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Even Brooks admitted Monday that his campaign launch rally in Huntsville, Alabama, would not be quite so hyper. But he built the foundation for his run on proven falsehoods just the same.
“In 2020, America suffered the worst voter fraud and election theft in history,” Brooks said, claiming no other candidate for the US Senate had stood as strongly as he had alongside Trump. Channeling his hero, he slammed “weak-kneed RINOs,” the “fake news media” and “radical socialists.”
Multiple courts, including the US Supreme Court, rejected the ex-President’s claims of election cheating. Even Trump’s own Justice Department said that there was no widespread electoral fraud last year.
The world is watching as the Biden administration takes office.
Brooks, who figures to have a strong chance of winning the GOP nomination and the Alabama seat, given Trump’s fervent support there, launched his effort alongside Stephen Miller, the hardline former White House official who authored many of the ex-President’s tough immigration policies.
“Nobody over the last four years has had President’s Trump’s back more than Mo Brooks,” Miller told the crowd. “But now, I need you to have his back.”
Brooks, who is running for the seat long held by retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, a classic old-school conservative, was not the only member of Trump’s army targeting the Senate on Monday.
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who also fanned false claims about election fraud, and who had resigned amid allegations of sexual and campaign misconduct, announced a bid for the seat of retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.
Greitens opened his campaign on Fox News and said he was running to “defend President Trump’s America First policies.”
The new recruits for Trump’s efforts to demonstrate his continuing hold on the GOP showed their stripes as the ex-President made a parallel bid to dismantle the democratic safeguards that confirmed his loss in Georgia last November.
Trump on Monday endorsed GOP Rep. Jody Hice for Georgia secretary of state — after attacking the incumbent, Brad Raffensperger, who had stood firm against Trump’s pressure on local officials to rig vote counts.
Hice has falsely claimed that there were multiple examples of fraud in Georgia, the key state that handed Democrats control of a 50-50 Senate in runoff elections in January.
Other outspoken pro-Trump Republican candidates are considering or have launched Senate campaigns in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania where more GOP incumbents are retiring. Proteges of the ex-President are lining up challenges against some of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting an unprecedented and deadly insurrection designed to destroy basic US democratic principles.
The former President signaled to potential GOP candidates the price of his endorsement when he reemerged at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month, where he warned that Republicans needed to back an end to mail-in voting and called out GOP lawmakers who had voted to impeach him by name.
The former President’s shadow in 2022 will ensure that yet another election will be dominated by his pernicious claims that voting in America is corrupt — with all the consequent damage to US democracy that brings.