The list of election conspiracists either already occupying influential positions or vying to obtain them goes on — but it doesn’t end with more slightly more buttoned-down officials, operatives and activists with prior electoral experience.
Public Wise, an election rights organization formed in 2019, is working to launch a searchable database of records on individuals and groups in powerful positions who were involved in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The group told CNN it now has more than 1,000 records indicating that nearly 200 alleged insurrectionists are holding or seeking seats in Congress, statewide offices, and on city councils, school boards and other local offices.
“The dangerous ideology that fueled the insurrection of January 6th is spreading across every level of government, accelerated by former President Trump’s deliberate effort to install insurrectionists and believers in the ‘big lie’ at every level of our government,” said Public Wise Executive Director Christina Baal-Owens. “Electing the same individuals who attacked the Capitol on January 6th poses a direct threat to American democracy, especially as we look ahead to the 2022 midterms and 2024.”
Leading figures in Trump’s orbit have made no secret of their desire to systematically stock government with movement loyalists. Steve Bannon, who helped steer Trump to election in 2016 and briefly served as his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House, has made his podcast a hub for below-the-radar organizational efforts.
“We’re taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We’re taking over all the elections,” Bannon said on a recent episode of his podcast, CNN’s Sara Murray and Jeremy Herb reported on Monday.
In an interview with CNN, he spelled out the strategy in simple terms.”It’s about winning elections with the right people — MAGA people,” Bannon said.
“We will have our people in at every level.”Whether the tactic is successful remains to be seen. Youngkin and New Jersey’s Jack Ciattarelli, who nearly ousted Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in a shockingly close race this November, did better than expected in part by keeping Trump out of the campaign discourse and — literally — outside state lines. Trump played along this year; he’s unlikely to be so deferential, or receding, during a campaign he seems to regard as a referendum on his own popularity.