Election denial still winning inside GOP, despite Trump losses: The Note

Trumpism is winning big even in races Trump is losing.

June 22, 2022, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Former President Donald Trump's Georgia losing streak continued on Tuesday. But Trumpism is winning big even in races Trump is losing.

Just hours after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and a top deputy told the House Jan. 6 committee new details of the pressure campaign they endured aimed at having them overturn the 2020 election results, two more Trump-endorsed candidates in the state went down in defeat.

PHOTO: Vernon Jones and Mo Brooks are seen in a composite file image.
Vernon Jones and Mo Brooks are seen in a composite file image.
Getty Images, FILE

But both Vernon Jones and Jake Evans lost to candidates who were at least as committed to the false notion that the election was stolen as their opponents. Mike Collins captured the nomination saying he wanted to align himself with firebrands like Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, while Rich McCormick still maintains that even his own election loss for a House race in 2020 was not legitimate.

The Alabama Senate runoff also played out on Trumpy terrain. Trump first endorsed Mo Brooks, then dropped him when his polling looked bleak. Katie Britt started out as the establishment choice who was attacked by Trump, but she endeared herself to him, in part, by alleging unspecified fraud in 2020 and calling for a nationwide election audit.

The Jan. 6 hearings have showcased the range of Republicans at the state and local level who cited allegiance to their values and the Constitution amid intense pressure to overturn the election.

The 2022 primary season is showcasing the range of GOP candidates who are running for and winning nominations, at least in part, based on falsehoods about that same election -- if not explicit vows to intervene in future races that might turn out like the last one.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

After the House's Jan. 6 committee presented evidence implicating Wisconsin Sen. Ron Jonson in an alleged scheme to deliver "fake" electoral votes to help Trump reverse the 2020 election results, his home state's lieutenant governor is calling on Johnson to resign.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat vying to face Johnson in November's midterm election, issued a statement on Tuesday after the committee revealed text messages showing that Johnson attempted to deliver slates of fake votes to then-Vice President Pence.

"Ron Johnson actively tried to undermine this democracy. He literally tried to hand Mike Pence fake ballots," reads Barnes' statement. "Once again, Ron Johnson has proven he's a danger to our country and our fundamental rights. I'm calling for him to resign immediately."

PHOTO: In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, text messages are displayed at a hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2022.
In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, text messages are displayed at a hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2022.
House Select Committee via AP

Alex Lasry, a Milwaukee Bucks executive and another leading Democratic candidate running to unseat Johnson, also issued a statement slamming him.

"Ron Johnson is a seditious traitor and a danger to our democracy. Trump and his MAGA allies planned, promoted, and paid for a radical plot to overturn an election they lost, and Ron Johnson attempted to deliver it for President Trump on a silver platter," said Lasry.

Johnson, through his office staff, denied the allegations pointing the finger at staffers.

"The senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office. This was a staff to staff exchange. His new Chief of Staff contacted the Vice President's office. The Vice President's office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story," Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Johnson, told ABC News.

Sworn testimony from former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson alleges that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his associates and "several" lawmakers discussed plans to offer alternative slates of electors despite White House lawyers saying the plan was likely illegal.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Two of this year's toughest House contests are officially set in Virginia following the outcomes of Tuesday's GOP primaries in the state's 2nd and 7th Congressional districts. The incumbent Democrats representing those areas -- Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger, respectively -- are defending the House majority after redistricting made each of their districts more favorable to Republicans.

Luria will face off with Republican state senator Jen Kiggans in the Virginia Beach-area district this fall, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin won by more than 10 points in 2020. The contest also holds symbolic meaning for Democrats given that Luria is the only Democratic member of the Jan. 6 committee who finds herself at risk of not being reelected.

Youngkin's path to victory seems to have paved the way for Kiggans' approach on the campaign trail -- although former President Donald Trump did not endorse candidates in any of Virginia's GOP primaries, like Youngkin. Kiggans supported Trump-favored policies without directly embracing him by name. Despite attempts from Kiggans' opponents to label her a "RINO," the Navy veteran has the backing of high-profile congressional GOP members like House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

PHOTO: Rep. Abigail Spanberger speaks in Culpeper, Va., Feb. 10, 2022.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger speaks in Culpeper, Va., Feb. 10, 2022.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

A similar matchup is on the horizon in the 7th Congressional District -- which includes the Northern Virginia exurbs -- where Prince William County Board Supervisor Yesli Vega will take on Spanberger in November. Spanberger won her 2020 race by just two points and has been at odds with the progressive wing of her party over its unexpected losses in the last election.

"We have to commit to not saying the words 'defund the police' ever again," Spanberger said during a post-election conference call with Democrats. "We have to not use the words 'socialist' or 'socialism' ever again," she added at the time, as reported by ABC News' Benjamin Siegel.

Since that call, progressives have come up short in the 2022 primaries. Their latest loss came on Tuesday with the concession of Jessica Cisneros to incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas' 28th Congressional District. It remains to be seen how Spanberger fares under the same party umbrella given that Vega -- a former deputy sheriff -- is already running against what she calls "the far left's dangerous 'defund the police' ideology."

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

43. That's the percentage of Americans who think abortion should be illegal in most or all cases but who are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a March Public Religion Research Institute survey. Moreover, in that same poll, 26 percent who said that abortion should legal in most or all cases supported overturning Roe. This might seem like a polling error, but as FiveThirtyEight contributor Natalie Jackson writes, Americans hold contradictory, and at times, inconsistent views on abortion.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here "Start Here" begins Wednesday morning with the latest on the investigation of the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school massacre and the police's handling of the incident. ABC's Mireya Villarreal leads us off. Then, ABC's Jonathan Karl breaks down highlights from Tuesday's Jan. 6 committee hearing centered on a Trump-led pressure campaign against state election officials. And, Cleveland Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot from the Plain Dealer discusses a settlement reached by star quarterback Deshaun Watson with some of his accusers. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on gas prices and "Putin's Price Hike" at 2:00 p.m.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a White House Press briefing at 3:00 p.m.
  • At 11:00 a.m., the House Oversight and Reform Committee will convene for a hearing on "Tackling Toxic Workplaces: Examining the NFL's Handling of Workplace Misconduct at the Washington Commanders."
  • At 2:30 p.m., the House Committee on House Administration will convene for a hearing on "A Growing Threat: How Disinformation Damages American Democracy."
  • The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will convene at 2:30 p.m. for an oversight hearing to examine Volume 1 of the Department of the Interior's Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative investigative report, including S.2907, to establish the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Tuesday after the Juneteenth holiday for the latest.

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