Trump’s false election claims overshadow Illinois, Colorado contests
Republican voters in Colorado and Illinois will weigh former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen presidency on Tuesday as they select candidates for the November elections that will determine control of Congress and many state governments.
Republican candidates who support Trump’s denial of his 2020 election loss have already won several high-profile nominating contests in other states this year, prompting concern among Democrats and independent observers that U.S. democracy could be at risk.
Those concerns are acute in Colorado, where county clerk Tina Peters is seeking the Republican nomination to be the state’s top election official, even though she has been indicted for election tampering and barred from overseeing voting in her home county this year.
Peters is among dozens of Republican candidates this year who have rejected Trump’s defeat by Democrat Joe Biden and are now seeking to oversee state elections.
Her leading Republican rival, Pam Anderson, does not support Trump’s fraud claims. Anderson is endorsed by several state Republican officials, including past elected officials.
Despite arguing that Trump’s claims undermine democracy, Democrats have interfered in some Republican contests to boost his allies, calculating that those candidates will prove too extreme for voters in November.
In Colorado, Democratic groups have spent money in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate to boost Ron Hanks, a state legislator who marched in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Hanks faces businessman Joe O’Dea, who has rejected Trump’s claims. The winner of that contest will face vulnerable Democratic Senator Michael Bennet.
In the Illinois contest for governor, Democratic groups have spent heavily to elevate Republican state Senator Darren Bailey, who has been endorsed by Trump, over Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a more moderate Republican who is seen as a greater threat to incumbent Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker.
With Biden’s approval ratings underwater, Republicans are favored to win control of the House of Representatives, where they need to flip only five Democratic seats for a majority, and could also take over the Senate.
A Republican-controlled House could stymie Biden’s legislative agenda and launch politically damaging investigations into his administration.
In Illinois, several incumbent lawmakers face off against each other, as the state lost a seat in Congress due to its shrinking population.
Republican Representative Mary Miller is facing criticism after saying at a rally with Trump on Saturday that the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the nationwide right to abortion was a “victory for white life.”
Miller’s aides say she meant to say “right to life,” but rival Representative Rodney Davis says it is further evidence that she is unfit for office, citing previous controversial comments.
Miller has been endorsed by Trump and has backed his false claims of a stolen election. Davis, by contrast, broke with his party last year to back the congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack.
The winner of the race is expected to win re-election in November in a largely rural, Republican-leaning seat.
The state’s population loss has also forced two incumbent House Democrats, Sean Casten and Marie Newman, to face off for a suburban Chicago seat. Casten has raised more than twice as much money as Newman, who faces an ethics investigation for allegedly promising a job to a political rival.