Alarm as Trump backs ‘big lies’ candidates for key campaign posts in Michigan | donald trump
Donald Trump has endorsed right-wing Republican candidates who support his baseless claims of a stolen election for key Michigan positions, raising the prospect of a Trump takeover of how the key field state battle could organize its elections.
Trump and his allies are backing many candidates in the upcoming midterm elections in the United States, including in other vital states like Arizona and Georgia.
But his intervention in Michigan raises particular eyebrows because of his role in winning Trump in 2016, before returning to Democrats in 2020 and helping oust him from office.
The former US president and his close ally Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, are giving strong support to a Michigan lawyer and leading promoter of debunked voter fraud charges who is seeking Republican endorsement to be the next prosecutor general of the state.
Trump plans to hold a fundraiser for lawyer Matthew DePerno on March 8 at his Florida club Mar-a-Lago, where Lindell told the Guardian he would speak to boost DePerno’s chances of being the Republican to take on Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Kristina Karamo, a community college professor who has also peddled conspiracy theories about voter fraud and who has never held elected office, has received Trump’s backing to be the Republican nominee for secretary of state. to challenge incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson in the fall election.
The secretary of state plays a crucial role in overseeing the election, and Trump loyalists are investing heavily to capture several of those positions this year.
And earlier this month, Trump spoke at a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the gubernatorial campaign of conservative commentator and businesswoman Tudor Dixon, who backed a “medical audit -legal” loosely defined state election results that Joe Biden won by 154,000 votes. .
Although Trump has called Dixon “very special,” he has yet to receive an official endorsement and she is one of 12 Republican candidates seeking the next governor.
Trump’s various hugs from DePerno, Karamo and Dixon are emblematic of how he helps candidates who repeat his false accusations that he lost due to widespread fraud, and which could potentially help Trump influence the results in key states should he run again in 2024.
According to a report by election monitoring group States United Action, at least 11 candidates who denied the validity of the 2020 results are running for attorney general positions in 10 states, and at least 21 deniers are trying to win the secretary of races of state. in 18 states by the end of January.
“Leaders across the state from both parties who protected the will of voters in 2020 are being challenged by Holocaust deniers,” said Joanna Lydgate, executive director of States United Action. “These candidates are campaigning on lies and conspiracy theories to determine whether the will of voters is being respected – a dangerous contradiction.”
DePerno and Karamo once cashed checks for $5,000 from a Trump Super Pac, according to public records. A Republican convention in Michigan in April will decide which candidates will enter the fall ballot to face Democratic opponents, and a Republican primary in August will choose the party’s gubernatorial candidate to oppose incumbent Gretchen Whitmer.
The Trump Super Pac overall supported a total of 14 Michigan candidates who contested the 2020 results and raised $65,000 from the Pac — more than any other state except Texas — according to campaign data.
DePerno’s candidacy has been particularly controversial given his legal efforts to promote bogus charges of fraud in a lawsuit against County Antrim of 23,000 people. The DePerno lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a local real estate agent, sought to obtain a forensic audit, but was dismissed last May when a judge noted that an audit had been carried out and dismissed the lawsuit. action that the alleged election machines were deliberately designed to produce fraud. .
County Antrim, a Republican stronghold, was won by Trump after a preliminary tally that Biden won the county was quickly found wrong due to a clerical error and corrected.
Some of DePerno’s fundraisers to help fund audits in Michigan and Arizona, and apparently to pay personal legal fees, have drawn scrutiny for their size and unknown donors.
A “voter fraud defense fund” used by DePerno reportedly brought in $384,000 last July and had an overall goal of $1 million, part of which was to pay for a Michigan audit.
Lindell told the Guardian that he did not donate funds to DePerno’s legal efforts or campaign and that he met DePerno when the lawyer was featured in Lindell’s film Absolute Proof, which at first last year drew criticism for promoting dubious theories about the 2020 election results.
After the film was released, DePerno and his family received “threats”, according to Lindell, which prompted him to give the attorney “about $20,000 for security”.
Lindell has endorsed other candidates for attorney general and governor in states including Arizona, Georgia and Texas, which echo Trump’s false allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
When Trump endorsed DePerno last fall, he dubbed him a ‘super lawyer’, falsely claiming that he ‘exposed so much fraud in County Antrim, and so many other places, during the election of 2020″.
Trump’s party next month at Mar-a-Lago to help DePerno could raise tens of thousands of dollars for his campaign coffers, according to reported ticket prices. For $25,000, a donor can get a photo standing next to Trump and DePerno, while for $10,000 an attendee can have their photo taken next to Lindell and DePerno.
Those funds could come in handy: A Detroit News poll last month showed DePerno trailing Tom Leonard, whom Nessel defeated in 2018, and who hopes to challenge her again. According to the poll, Nessel led Leonard and DePerno.
Although Trump’s endorsement of DePerno seems to have drawn the most attention, Karamo and Dixon have also sparked controversy.
Karamo said Trump was Michigan’s real winner in 2020 and used his podcast on Jan. 7 to push conspiratorial and false accusations that far-left anarchists led the assault on the Capitol.
Last October, Karamo was one of several candidates for Secretary of State from various states who adopted Trump’s election lies to speak at a meeting in Las Vegas that featured people with ties to the QAnon conspiracy.
Although Trump has not officially endorsed Dixon, who worked in sales and customer service at a steel company started by his father, Dixon has made no secret of his support for Trump and hopes he blesses his campaign.
“I think we’d be lying to each other if we didn’t say his endorsement will frame absolutely every race in America,” she said last August.
Other Republican gubernatorial hopefuls are also seeking Trump’s support, including former Detroit police chief James Craig, who met with Trump last fall.
With Trump-backed candidates competing in Michigan and many other states, Lydgate of States United Action warned that it is no longer a given that candidates for high office believe in “free and fair elections… the American people must pay close attention to these races”.