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Democrats' Boosting of “Stop the Steal” Republicans in Colorado
In a tough election year, Democratic groups are investing big money in the Republicans' worst candidates.
A lot of Republicans may remember a little something called “Operation Chaos”, a political strategy radio-host Rush Limbaugh promoted on his show during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary (after John McCain had effectively secured the Republican nomination). It was a call to action, of sorts, to encourage Republican voters in the remaining primary states to temporarily cross over to the Democratic side of the aisle to vote for Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was fledgling against her inner-party rival, Barack Obama.
It was the first time I’d heard the term “party raiding” (though it had been around for some time), the act of one party interfering in another party’s primary. Limbaugh’s goal was was basically to drag out the Democratic race longer, force campaigns to exhaust more of their funding, and build further tension within the party. In other words, it was to weaken the Democratic party going into the general election.
I wasn’t keen on the idea, but relative to how party raiding has evolved and expanded over the years (on both sides of the aisle), the Limbaugh stunt now feels like little more than a love-tap. Today, such efforts have become serious, heavily-funded operations. And in this year’s midterms, the Democrats aren’t taking any prisoners.
The party and left-wing groups have been engaged in a national strategy, in a tough election year for the Democrats, to aid extremist candidates running in GOP primaries. Their hope is that those candidates will win their nominations, which in turn will give the Democrats easier opponents to run against in November’s general election.
It’s a risky game, but thus far, there’s reason to believe their efforts have been successful.
In the Pennsylvania governor’s race, for example, Republican Doug Mastriano (a Stop the Steal, Trump-endorsed candidate who marched at the Capitol on January 6, has a history of melting down during media interviews, and has compared President Biden to Hitler) won his primary race in a crowded field after Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro and his allies spent twice as much money on pro-Mastriano ads as Mastriano’s own campaign.
Right now, there’s a full-court press in Colorado, the state I call home. Registered Republican voters are receiving multiple full-sized mailings every day promoting the nuttiest GOP candidates on the June 28 primary ballot. And just about all of them are coming from left-wing super PACs or the Colorado Democratic Party.
I can speak to this first hand. Though I dropped my Republican affiliation in 2016, my wife never did, and our mailbox is full of these ads, addressed to her, whenever I flip open the lid.
National Review’s Dan McLaughlin has been doing some good reporting on these liberal groups’ efforts to assist Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks, another Stop the Steal protest attendee who kicked off his campaign with an ad depicting a Dominion voting machine literally being blown up. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been poured into pro-Hanks mailings, with millions spent on TV advertising. Some of the ads attack Hanks’ primary opponent, Joe O’Dea (a more traditional Republican who the Democrats see as a general-election threat to incumbent senator Michael Bennet), including with factually false claims. Others are actually disguised as anti-Hanks ads, “criticizing” Hanks with phrasing that actually very much appeals to today’s Republican base, like declarations that he’s “too much like Trump”, “too conservative”, and “doesn’t believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president”.
Below is one such ad that arrived the other day. Remember, these aren’t being sent to just any voters. They’re being sent exclusively to registered Republicans ahead of their primary.
Some of the mailings are even illegal, failing to disclose who exactly paid for them, and labeled with seemingly objective phrasing like “Colorado Voter Guide”, “Congressional Voting Guide” and “U.S. Senate Voter Guide”.
Here’s one below, with false claims like Hanks being endorsed by the Colorado Republican Party.
The O’Dea campaign isn’t taking the unlawfulness sitting down. They’ve filed for an injunction in federal court over the ads, and have sent complaints to Colorado’s attorney general and several district attorneys in the state.
But Hanks isn’t the only Colorado Republican who’s receiving major aid from the Democrats. The Dems have also been pouring money into the gubernatorial primary, as well as the race for Colorado’s brand new 8th congressional district. In each case, they’re propping up the Trumpiest, Stop the Steal candidates on the ballot, with image after image of Trump himself:
The Lori Saine mailing above, that notably places “Trump” before “Country”, was paid for by “314 Action Fund”, a left-wing organization committed to helping Democratic candidates. Other pro-Saine mailings, including those of the illegal variety described above, have been relentlessly pushing her Trump bonafides:
Perhaps the deepest irony in all of this, and why I earlier called it a “risky game”, is that in promoting and funding these types of candidates, the left is increasing the chances of more Stop the Steal politicians ending up in powerful public positions. If these individuals win their nominations in a “red wave” year (like the one everyone’s predicting for the midterms), they could well end up winning their general elections as well, which flies in the face of Democrats’ loudly stated concerns, since January 6, that such people are a very real threat to American democracy.
If they are indeed that big of a threat to the country and our elections, why on earth are the Democrats helping them?
The answer, again, is for short-term political gain. And if it backfires, the left will partially be to blame for what comes next.
On a personal note, I’m excited to announce that my latest thriller novel, Restitution, has taken Gold in the Literary Titan Book Awards. You can learn more about (and purchase) the book here.