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More Than Half Of The GOP Primary Winners So Far Believe The Big Lie

Belief that the 2020 election was stolen is now so common among Republican politicians that they’re asked about it in primary debates. Here are some of the candidates in the June 7 primaries who support the Big Lie.


There are so many candidates currently running for office who don’t believe the 2020 election was legitimate that asking about it has become a common debate question. It happened a few weeks ago at a debate in New Mexico between the Republican candidates for governor. Some candidates, like financial advisor Greg Zanetti, raised doubts without saying outright that the election was stolen:

“The jury is still out but the evidence is rising that the voter fraud was off the charts.”

Others, like New Mexico state Rep. Rebecca Dow, didn’t mince words:

“I think we’ll go down in history as showing that there is widespread election fraud across the United States. And without that election fraud then Donald Trump would be the president, would’ve been reelected.”

The front-runner in that race, former local weatherman Mark Ronchetti, dodged the question in the debate. He hasn’t made claims about widespread fraud in 2020 but he does have a section of his campaign website devoted to “election integrity.”

And that’s just one race in New Mexico. Throughout the primary season, FiveThirtyEight and ABC News have been tracking candidates who support former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie: They’ve either questioned Trump’s loss, said the 2020 election was illegitimate or took legal action to overturn its results. Here are some of the Big Lie believers we’ve identified who are running in primaries this week.

In Iowa, the race for the Republican nominee in the state’s 3rd Congressional District is being closely watched because the party is hoping to unseat Iowa’s only Democratic member of Congress, Cindy Axne. One of the three candidates in that race is Gary Leffler, a retired farmer who has promoted the Big Lie as long as Trump has been pushing it. He attended Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 and then took photos from the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.

In Mississippi, the Big Lie is playing a major role in the Republican race for nominee in the state’s 4th District. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo, who voted not to certify some election results, and even supported a lawsuit out of Texas that aimed to overturn results. But Palazzo has faced a number of ethics scandals recently, putting his campaign on shaky ground. Now he’s facing six challengers in the primary, which include a couple other Big Lie proponents. Kidron Peterson, a machinist running in the race, said in a candidate forum in May, “From my own research, I do not believe it was a fair election.” And there’s Carl Boyanton, a business owner, who answered “Yes” during that forum when asked whether he believed the election was stolen. He then complained on Facebook that some attendees walked out when he answered.

These candidates aren’t outliers. For elections through May 24, we’ve found that more than half of the Republican nominees who won their primary either denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election or raised doubts about its results. If you want to see which candidates in your state support the Big Lie, follow along with FiveThirtyEight.

Kaleigh Rogers is FiveThirtyEight’s technology and politics reporter.


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