Two establishment Republicans who stood up to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud are facing the voters on Aug. 16. Can they beat their Trump-backed opponents?
Nathaniel Rakich: Two of the most high-profile Republicans who have stood up to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud are facing the voters on Aug. 16. And while one of them will almost certainly survive, the other is probably going to lose.
Out of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot, only one is also running for reelection this year: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. And she’s virtually guaranteed to make it to the November ballot — but not necessarily because Alaskans agree with her criticism of “Stop the Steal.” It’s because Alaska has a new top-four primary system where all candidates, regardless of party, run on the same ballot, and the top four finishers advance to a ranked-choice general election. Murkowski may not finish first on Tuesday, but based on her name recognition and cross-party popularity, she’ll definitely be in the top four.
Murkowski’s main opponent is Kelly Tshibaka. Tshibaka has repeatedly questioned the results of the 2020 election, and on a podcast with former Trump staffer Steve Bannon, she said that President Biden’s win in Arizona should never have been certified. Tshibaka is all but guaranteed to make the top four as well, meaning this election-fraud fight won’t be over until November.
The other state holding its primary on Tuesday is Wyoming, the home of Rep. Liz Cheney. Cheney has become the most visible Republican member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, and she has not minced words about Trump’s election-fraud claims:
Rep. Liz Cheney: President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information — to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not true.
Rakich: That position has made Cheney one of the top targets for the Trump wing of the GOP, and they’ve coalesced around candidate Harriet Hageman to defeat her. Hageman’s position on the 2020 election is pretty much the polar opposite of Cheney’s:
Harriet Hageman: Absolutely the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President Trump could not get reelected.”
Rakich: And there’s not much suspense about which of these messages will prove more popular in a state where Trump won 70 percent of the vote in 2020. A Mason-Dixon poll of likely primary voters showed Hageman creaming Cheney by more than 20 points.
Candidates who question the legitimacy of the 2020 election are winning their races around the country. If you want to learn about the election deniers running for office in your state, follow along with FiveThirtyEight.