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The May 17 Candidates Who Believe The 2020 Election Was Stolen

Voters in Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania are heading to the polls this week to vote in their states’ primary elections. Here are the Republican candidates running for Congress, as well as state-level positions like secretary of state, who support former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie.”


It’s a busy week for primaries, with elections in Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania. FiveThirtyEight and ABC News have been tracking candidates running for Congress and state-level positions like governor, secretary of state and attorney general who have questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election. This is despite the fact that former President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was fraudulent have been repeatedly proven false. Here are some of the candidates in today’s primaries who support Trump’s “Big Lie” — they’ve all said that Trump’s loss or the 2020 election was illegitimate, or took legal action to overturn its results, or both.

Let’s start in North Carolina, where an open Senate seat has attracted 14 candidates in the Republican primary. That includes some ardent Big Lie supporters like Drew Bulecza. He’s a bit of a fringe candidate, but when he was asked whether he believed the 2020 election was legitimate, he replied by posting a meme to his Facebook profile claiming Biden was “installed like a toilet.” The current frontrunner in this race is Rep. Ted Budd, who earned one of Trump’s earliest endorsements. He has said that Biden is the legitimate president and received more votes, but he was also among a group of Republicans in Congress who voted not to certify some of the election results.

Of this week’s primaries, we’ve found Pennsylvania has the greatest share of Big Lie candidates running: We’ve identified 15 of 41 Republican candidates there who have backed Trump’s claims of a stolen election. In particular, the race to become the GOP nominee for governor has attracted multiple election deniers. One of the frontrunners in that race — Doug Mastriano — has repeatedly questioned the results of the 2020 election, including in Pennsylvania and he supported Trump’s efforts to try to overturn results there. He has said there was “cheating and fraud” in Pennsylvania and “rampant voting problems,” though his evidence relies on anecdotes and misinformation.

Oregon has its fair share of candidates who questioned the 2020 election as well. Among the 19 Republicans running for governor, we’ve found five who endorse the Big Lie. That includes Stan Pulliam, who’s polling in the middle of the pack. He said in a recent debate that the election was “fraudulent, completely fraudulent.” Among some of the trailing candidates in that race, there’s Amber Richardson and Court Boice, who each told Oregon Public Broadcasting they do not believe Biden won. There’s also Marc Thielman, who reportedly made comments in support of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. And Reed Christensen, who actually participated in the attack.

We have a long primary season ahead of us and already a number of Republicans who support the Big Lie have become their party’s nominee. In Ohio alone, we counted seven Big Lie endorsers who won, out of 17 races. If you want to learn which candidates from your state support these false claims, follow along with FiveThirtyEight.

Kaleigh Rogers is FiveThirtyEight’s technology and politics reporter.


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