When Democrats Fund Republicans To Win Elections

Spending money on the opposing party generally seems to be counterproductive. But during the Republican primaries, some Democrats banked on helping to elect candidates that are so far to the right and who deny the results the 2020 presidential election in an effort they think will make it easier to defeat them in the November midterms.

Now that the Republican primaries are finally over and all the party’s nominees have been chosen for the November midterm elections, here are two observations.

First, according to Daniel Dale, an adept compiler of politicians’ lies for CNN, of the 35 candidates seeking a Senate seat, more than half of them still believe the 2020 presidential election was rigged. The same goes for nearly two out of three candidates running for governor and half the Republican hopefuls for secretary of state, who supervises elections.

Second, in a number of races, Democratic spending to boost far-right Republicans seems to have paid off.

The latest example is that of Don Bolduc, a Trumpist Republican from New Hampshire. During the primaries, a political action committee overseen by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pumped more than $3 million into the campaign of Bolduc, a retired general, in the hopes that he would beat the more moderate Chuck Morse. Last week, Bolduc won the nomination to run for the Senate on Nov. 8. Democrats are already rubbing their hands together, convinced he will lose against the incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Millions Spent for Wins

Robert Burns, an obscure Republican from New Hampshire with no major campaign financing, found himself at the center of a hundred-thousand-dollar campaign launched by Democrats Serve. The aim was for him to win the primary so that Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster could easily be reelected against a candidate who is clearly too extreme.

In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, who has already compared gun control to policy in Nazi Germany and shared a photo declaring the Roe v. Wade decision worse than the Holocaust, absolutely wanted the gubernatorial nomination. Much too far to the right, some Republicans believe he has no chance of being elected in November.

Dan Cox, a fan of outrageous QAnon conspiracies, ran for the Republican nomination to replace Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Hogan himself preferred Kelly Schulz, who had a better chance of being elected in November in the fairly centrist state.

Lastly, there is Darren Bailey, an anti-abortion elected official from rural Illinois who advocated that Chicago should become a state and entered the race for governor. With little chance and poor funding, his hopes are rather slim.

These four candidates have three noticeable things in common: They are all Trumpists who support the false premise of a stolen election, they benefited from millions of campaign dollars spent by the Democrats, and they were ultimately chosen by Republican voters.

In total, the Democrats have intervened in at least 13 races at various levels of power. According to The Washington Post, various Democratic groups have spent more than $50 million to help far-right Republican candidates who they say have little chance of success on Nov. 8.

It is hard to know the extent of Democratic investment in the final election of the most extreme candidates, but it does demonstrate the extent to which point polarization leads some politicians to adopt such strange and, let’s face it, very risky tactics.

Not an Infallible Tactic

The strategy failed in Colorado, where Democratic Colorado PAC injected $4 million targeted specifically at Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, a Republican who supported certain parts of Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. It was risky reverse psychology that ended with Republicans nominating O’Dea, who is much more threatening to the incumbent Democrat in that blue state.

The same thing happened in California, where the Democrats financially supported Chris Mathys, a 2020 election denier, in his race against David Valadao, who voted to impeach Trump in 2021. Republican voters chose Valadao.

What Does the Party Think?

Among the Democrats who dare not publicly criticize this approach is Vice President Kamala Harris. When asked about the strategy, she eluded the question several times by saying she would not tell other Democrats how to conduct their campaigns.

But Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said, “The political decisions that are made out there, are made in furtherance of our winning the election. We think that the contrast between Democrats and Republicans as they are now, is so drastic that we have to — we have to win.”

It is a strategy that some Democrats denounce, but often do so off the record.

A Backlash?

The phenomenon of working to get weaker opponents elected in the other party’s primary is not necessarily new. In 2012, Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri spent more than $1 million on the campaign of a lesser Republican candidate. Elected in the primary, McCaskill later beat him.

Now, 10 years later in an ultrapolarized election year, the Democratic politician acknowledges that the strategy could backfire against the party. McCaskill says the Republican Party has changed a great deal over the last 10 years. The Republican leadership, which is still loyal to Trump, cannot be counted on to disavow certain of its less suitable candidates.

This is especially true if Republican candidates change their strategy to become more electable now that they have to defeat Democrats. Dailey, for example, who previously said that he didn’t know if the 2020 elections were decided fairly, responded a few days ago that he would accept the 2022 vote whatever the outcome.

Bolduc, the Republican Senate candidate from New Hampshire, made a 180-degree turn by affirming that he had “come to the conclusion” that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen after spending more than a year claiming that this was the case. “I have done a lot of research on this,” he told Fox News. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: The election was not stolen.”

These are two among many Republicans who, since being elected and having seen recent polls, are modifying their websites and erasing their radical opposition to abortion or their support of the bogus theory about a stolen election. By becoming less extreme, in certain cases, they become more credible or, at the very least, less frightening to voters and at the same time more menacing to Democrats.

Will voters be duped on Nov. 8? The Democrats are crossing their fingers that their risky gamble does not come back to bite them.

About this publication

About Reg Moss 119 Articles
Reg is a writer, teacher, and translator with an interest in social issues especially as pertains to education and matters of race, class, gender, immigration, etc.

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