This is a guest post from Michigan House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski.
Michigan is entering the home stretch of an election season unlike anything we have seen before.
On the one hand, Democrats offer candidates many voters will recognize: From Gov. Gretchen Whitmer down the ballot, Democratic candidates are talking about record-setting funding for our schools, growing good paying jobs, protecting the right to make reproductive health decisions without a politician in the doctor’s office, and direct and meaningful inflation relief for Michigan families. Kitchen table issues. Issues that affect our health, our livelihoods and our future.
On the other side, many Republican candidates are talking about overturning an election held nearly two years ago that every audit has concluded was fair, transparent and free of systemic fraud. These conclusions include a Michigan Senate Republican report and an analysis by conservative Republican legal experts.
Since 2020, these extremist candidates – Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno and Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo – have peddled unfounded conspiracy theories to deny the results of an election Joe Biden won by more than 6 million votes. Biden won Michigan by 155,000 votes.
Their evidence-free denials of the 2020 results lay the foundation for something more dangerous: They aim to undermine our elections, starting this November and into the future.
Dixon, DePerno and Karamo’s efforts are already at the heart of an ongoing congressional investigation into the deadly insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021. Beyond the attack that injured 140 police officers and led to the deaths of several of them, the investigation is uncovering a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to attack our elections themselves, take away our votes and allow politicians to overturn the results of elections when extremist Republicans and their allies lose.
Michiganders are rightfully concerned. And a majority of them say they will hold politicians who deny the 2020 election results accountable. And yet the Republican House leadership has refused to investigate Michigan’s direct ties to the delays and violence that worked to prevent the peaceful transfer for power.
Over the summer, Defend Democracy Project polling showed that 82 percent of Michiganders have been following the Jan. 6 congressional inquiry into former President Trump and his allies and enablers’ roles in attacking our democracy. A majority of Michiganders – 52 percent – say Trump and his enablers should be punished, and that they are not likely to vote for a candidate who denies the 2020 election results. One in three Michiganders say getting to the bottom of the attacks on our elections is important to our nation’s democracy.
Dixon has a history of denying the results of our free and fair 2020 elections, and claims the elections were stolen. Her platform includes putting up barriers to voting that would disenfranchise many voters, including people of color, seniors and disabled people. DePerno’s entire campaign is based on false claims that Michigan’s vote counting machines were tampered with, and maintains close ties to Trump. In addition to trying to overturn the will of the people and supporting voting restrictions, Karamo has also spread bizarre claims that “Trump was battling a secret cabal of satanic child abusers, who included leading Democrat figures and celebrities.”
Michigan voters deserve better – and they want better. Nearly 7 in 10 Michiganders are concerned about Trump and his allies spreading lies about the 2020 election, even after his lawyers and his own attorney general told them fraud was nonexistent. Nearly 6 in 10 voters are concerned that Dixon continues to spread election denial lies, and 60 percent of voters are concerned that Trump and his allies tried to pressure local elections officials and tamper with the results, something DePerno and State Rep. Daire Rendon are accused of right here at home. More worrisome are recordings that expose leaders within the Michigan Republican Party such as former State Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Wayne County GOP Chair Cheryl Costantino telling poll workers to break election laws.
The threat to our right to vote clearly continues today and will only grow stronger unless extremist election-denying Republicans here in Michigan are stopped. From attacks on the Michigan Capitol in 2020 to the violent mob assault on the U.S. Capitol to overturn the 2020 election results to threats of “civil war and armed rebellion,” Trump and his extremist allies will stop at nothing when elections or the law do not go their way.
For the majority of Michiganders, their violence and lawlessness have no place in our state.