Midterm Stakes Grow Clearer: Election Deniers Will Be on Many Ballots
Republican voters in this week’s primary races demonstrated a willingness to nominate candidates who parrot Donald J. Trump’s election lies and who appear intent on exerting extraordinary political control over voting systems. The results make clear that the November midterms may well affect the fate of free and fair elections in the country.
In Pennsylvania, Republican voters united behind a nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, who helped lead the brazen effort to overturn the state’s 2020 election and chartered buses to the rally before the Capitol riot, and who has since promoted a constitutionally impossible effort to decertify President Biden’s victory in his state.
In North Carolina, voters chose a G.O.P. Senate nominee, Representative Ted Budd, who voted in Congress against certifying the 2020 results and who continues to refuse to say that Mr. Biden was legitimately elected.
And in Idaho, which Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly in 2020, 57 percent of voters backed two Republican candidates for secretary of state who pushed election falsehoods, though they lost a three-way race to a rival who accepts Mr. Biden as president.
The strong showings on Tuesday by election deniers, who have counterparts running competitively in primaries across the country over the coming months, were an early signal of the threat posed by the Trump-inspired movement.
Melissa Carone was supposed to be a star witness for Rudolph W. Giuliani on his election denial tour, but she is perhaps better known as a caricature on “Saturday Night Live” — a mercurial purveyor of wild conspiracy theories about fraud and miscounted ballots whom Mr. Giuliani shushed in the middle of her testimony.
Her next move was to run for the legislature in Michigan, joining a host of election deniers across the nation who have sought public office since former President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.
But her plans were short-circuited on Tuesday, when the Michigan Department of State disqualified Ms. Carone, 35, a former election contractor, as a Republican primary candidate for a State Senate seat outside of Detroit.
The office said that Ms. Carone, along with 10 other legislative candidates, had made false statements on an affidavit that candidates were required to submit to election administrators. On one of the forms that was signed by Ms. Carone, she had attested that she did not have any unpaid fines for election law violations and that all of her public campaign filings were up-to-date. The county clerk where Ms. Carone was running for office said on Wednesday that had not been the case.
It was the second time in recent months that Ms. Carone had been disqualified as a candidate: The Macomb County Clerk & Register of Deeds barred her in March from the Aug. 2 primary for state representative.
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — In his campaign headquarters the morning after his electoral victory, Chuck Edwards showed no interest in dissecting one of the biggest political upsets so far in this year’s Republican primary season.
Mr. Edwards, 61, a three-term state senator and business owner, thwarted Representative Madison Cawthorn’s turbulent re-election bid in North Carolina, beating him in Tuesday’s primary in a rare defeat of a Trump-backed Republican incumbent.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to unify the Republican Party, put the primary behind us and focus our attention towards the real issues,” Mr. Edwards said on Wednesday, seated at a sleek mahogany conference table at his campaign office in downtown Hendersonville.
What went unspoken was that many voters saw him as the establishment candidate who benefited from the boost of old-guard Republicans at home and in Washington. Mr. Cawthorn, 26, had alienated two powerful Republicans with a litany of political and personal errors and scandals: Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
A political group supporting Mr. Tillis, who endorsed Mr. Edwards, poured money into an ad campaign that painted Mr. Cawthorn as a fame-seeking liar. Other top North Carolina Republicans, including the state’s House speaker and State Senate leaders, also came to Mr. Edwards’s side.
The aftershocks of Tuesday’s big primaries are still rumbling across Pennsylvania, but one impact is already clear: Republican voters’ choice of Doug Mastriano in the governor’s race is giving the G.O.P. fits.
Conversations with Republican strategists, donors and lobbyists in and outside of Pennsylvania in recent days reveal a party seething with anxiety, dissension and score-settling over Mastriano’s nomination.
In the run-up to Tuesday night, Republicans openly used words and phrases like “suicide mission,” “disaster” and “voyage of the Titanic” to convey just what a catastrophe they believed his candidacy will be for their party.
An adviser to several Republican governors, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was wide displeasure with the outcome, calling him unelectable. The Mastriano campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Some in Pennsylvania blame Jeff Yass, a billionaire options trader and the state’s most powerful donor, for sticking with Bill McSwain for governor despite Donald Trump’s blistering anti-endorsement; others point the finger at Lawrence Tabas, the state party chairman, for failing to clear the field; still others say that Trump should have stayed out of the race altogether instead of endorsing Mastriano. Tabas did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
YORK, Pa. — Last week, a leader of a historic Black cemetery cornered Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania at a campaign event here with a pressing message.
“I told him that I’d like to work with him on trying to increase the diverse content of his campaign,” the official, Jeffrey Kirkland, said last Thursday, noting in an interview that he was one of the few people of color in attendance at the event. Mr. Kirkland supports Mr. Fetterman, and said that the candidate was receptive. But he stressed that it would behoove Mr. Fetterman “to try to do something to motivate the African American vote.”
“Turnout will be the key,” he added.
Less than a week later, Mr. Fetterman is his state’s Democratic Senate nominee. And engaging and turning out Black voters in this fall’s general election will be among his campaign’s biggest imperatives as he competes in one of the most closely divided states in the nation.
In the Senate primary, Mr. Fetterman won every county in the state, according tothe available data on Wednesday, though without exit polling, it is difficult to gauge precisely how he performed with Black voters. In some Philadelphia neighborhoods that are home to high percentages of Black voters, he appeared to trail State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, who represents Philadelphia in the statehouse and was vying to be the state’s first Black and first openly gay senator."