In The News

It’s not a silver bullet’: Democrats weigh how to talk about January 6 on the 2022 campaign trail

02.01.2022 Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg


“The election rights organization Public Wise, formed in 2019, is currently working to launch a searchable database of records on individuals and groups in in powerful positions who were involved in the riots.

The group told CNN it now has more than 1,000 records indicating that nearly 200 alleged insurrectionists are currently holding or seeking seats in Congress, statewide office, city councils and on school boards and other local offices. As part of their research, the group conducted polling to gauge how Republican voters viewed the fitness of elected officials who had some involvement in the events of last January 6.

For the most part, the ideological and partisan split held — with conservatives and Republican majorities saying they believed an official who, as one question asked, helped fund buses for “participants” should “remain in office.” It was only when respondents were asked about officials who “coordinated with protesters in advance to help them understand the layout of the Capitol building and how to move within it quickly” that a majority of GOP voters, 63%, drew a line and said they should not be able to continue in their roles.

“To me, that says that there is actually a swing-able amount of, I don’t know if they’re moderate Republicans, but Republicans, that are gettable votes that are on the table if there’s a clear message about how this candidate coordinated, telling the story, making it very clear, having receipts and making those messages clear in races where these people are,” Public Wise executive director Christina Baal-Owens told CNN.

The group, which met alongside partners with the congressional select committee investigating the insurrection, is still in the process of organizing, memorializing and, potentially, weaponizing information about election deniers who are now running for office themselves — including in jobs that involve overseeing future contests. “We found people (seeking office) as local and as hyper-local as school board or city councils,” Baal-Owens said. “So on every level of election administration, of using taxpayer dollars, of decisions that affect people’s lives, there are insurrectionists that are infiltrating these levels.”