5 Republicans who backed Trump's 'big lie' now want a promotion to the Senate

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At least one of the GOP candidates is making his quest to overturn the election a central theme to his campaign.

Following a massive campaign of lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election by Donald Trump and his GOP allies, polls show that a majority of the Republican base now believes the contest was stolen and that Trump is the rightful president.

And at least five Senate hopefuls helped push that lie by either voting to block President Joe Biden's election certification or by joining the effort to overturn Biden's victory through the courts.

Not every one of the five currently holds elected office. However, they all played a role in trying to overturn Biden's victory based on lies of voter fraud that the GOP base has now internalized.

And experts say their lies of fraud and effort to overturn the election could actually be beneficial in their bids.

"Right now, running close to Trump is an asset in a Republican primary and perpetuating the former president's lies about a stolen election is one of most important tests of loyalty," Nathan Gonzales, a nonpartisan political handicapper with Inside Elections, told the American Independent Foundation. 

Of the five Republican Senate candidates who helped perpetuate the big lie, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) may have been the most vocal.

He was one of the main organizers of the effort to block certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, and is even accused of helping Trump incite the insurrection with his own speech at a rally ahead of the attack.

"Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," Brooks said at the rally that preceded the insurrection, telling the crowd to give that same message to people in their home states and "along the way stop at the Capitol."

Brooks is now running for the Senate seat in Alabama being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby. It's his second attempt to win a U.S. Senate seat, after he lost a GOP primary in the 2017 special election to replace ex-Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Brooks is making "election integrity" a central focus of his campaign, and got Trump's endorsement — which could be major in this race in the heavily Republican and pro-Trump state.

"Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks," Trump said in a statement announcing his endorsement of Brooks' bid.

Two other Republican House members who voted to block certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory are also running for Senate.

In Missouri, GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler is running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Hartzler was one of the 147 congressional Republicans to vote to block certification of Biden's win — even after the insurrectionists waged their attack. She also signed a brief supporting a lawsuit from Texas' indicted attorney general that sought to overturn Biden's victories in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The lawsuit failed.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is also running for the open Missouri Senate seat. He was one of 17 Republican attorneys general to back the Texas lawsuit that tried to toss out free and fair election results. In fact, Schmitt authored the amicus brief supporting the suit that the other attorneys general signed on to.

In North Carolina, Republican Rep. Ted Budd is running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Like Hartzler, Budd both voted to block Biden's win, as well as supported the Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate the vote in states Biden won.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Sean Parnell — who ran a failed House bid in 2020 — is running for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.

Parnell was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Biden's victory in Pennsylvania. Parnell's lawsuit — which tried to toss out roughly 2.5 million absentee ballots in the Keystone State — failed in both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear an appeal.

Supporting Trump's election lies has become a litmus test of sorts for Republicans. Those like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) who say fraud didn't happen and called on Trump and GOP lawmakers to stop pushing the lie have been punished. While those who promoted fraud lies, such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), have been rewarded by the party.

And Republicans who aided in the effort to steal the election are not just running for Senate.

Politico reported that four Republicans running for secretary of state roles — which would make them directly responsible for election administration — aided in the efforts to steal the 2020 election.

In New York, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is running for governor to challenge Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

It's unclear how these GOP candidates' lies about voter fraud and efforts to steal the election would impact their general election chances.

But Gonzales said that position could help them win Republican primaries.

"Being close to Trump is more important than where you stand on specific issues right now, when it comes to appealing to the Republican base," Gonzales said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.