As a second impeachment trial against Donald J. Trump approaches next month, Republicans in states across the country line up with unwavering support behind the former president.
Perhaps no state has demonstrated its allegiance as tenaciously as Pennsylvania, where Republican officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep Trumpism at the center of their message while supporting the president’s false claims of a “stolen” election.
Eight out of nine Republicans in the Pennsylvania congressional delegation voted to cast their own state vote for President Biden on January 6, just hours after a mob stormed the Capitol.
A majority of Republicans in the state parliament approved these efforts.
And a member of the House of Representatives, Scott Perry, was instrumental in promoting a plan in which Mr Trump would fire the acting attorney general to stay in office.
In the weeks since the November 3 elections, Pennsylvania’s Republicans have made loyalty to the defeated ex-president the party’s sole organizing principle, the latest chapter in a right-wing populist march repeated in other states. As elsewhere, the Pennsylvania G.O.P. Once spearheaded by mainstream conservatives, it is now defined almost entirely by Trumpism. Big statewide races are about to begin in 2022 for offices like governor and senate, with an electorate that has just turned Mr. Trump down in favor of Mr. Biden.
Far from self-examining, Pennsylvania’s Republicans are already fighting ahead of the 2022 primary to prove that they fought hardest for Mr Trump, who practices despite his party’s losses in the White House, Senate and House still a strong grip on elected Republicans and grassroots voters.
While the Republican base has shifted – suburbanites who are more democratic and rural white voters who line up behind Republicans on culture war issues – G.O.P. The leaders recognize the extent to which the former president has generated waves of support for their party. In Pennsylvania, as in some of the Midwestern states, Mr. Trump and only Mr. Trump sparked a wave of new Republican voters complaining about a changing America.
“Donald Trump’s presidency and popularity have been a great asset to the Pennsylvania Republican Party,” said Rob Gleason, former chairman of the G.O.P. Although numerous state and federal courts rejected the Trump campaign’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud, Mr. Gleason said that the vote had been rigged “remains on many people’s minds”.
He predicted this would increase Republican turnout in the upcoming races. He said he met with a prosecutor this week who “feels the election has been stolen” and was considering running for nationwide judicial office this year.
Other Republicans tend to be skeptical that the gradual support of the former president is the best way forward in Pennsylvania, a critical battlefield state likely to be won over the next election cycles.
“We became Trump’s party for over four years and it was test after test,” said Ryan Costello, a former G.O.P. House member from the suburbs of Philadelphia who criticized Mr. Trump and is exploring a run for the Senate. “It is not a sustainable growth strategy to double, triple and quadruple Trump when he splits.”
Despite Mr Costello’s concerns, most Republicans believed to be considering runs for the Senate or Governor have made it clear that they are ready to pass a Trump loyalty test.
These include members of the Republican Congressional delegation, diehard members of the legislature, and even Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is the subject of ongoing rumors that he will run for high office in the state – largely because of his ties to Pennsylvania, where he attended prep school and attended college. The Trump family spent a tremendous amount of time campaigning in Pennsylvania in 2020, and the state remains a big one as it moves into its next political phase.
The transformation of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania was strong. Less than two decades ago, it was spearheaded by political centrists such as former Senator Arlen Specter and former Governor Tom Ridge who became the first Secretary of Homeland Security.
Now it embodies Mr. Perry, a member of the tough Freedom Caucus who won a fifth term for his seat in the Harrisburg area in November. His Democratic opponent, Eugene DePasquale, said he lost the race “fair and fair”. But he called the Republican Congressman’s efforts on behalf of Mr Trump in a scheme involving the Justice Department “a radical attempt to overthrow the elections”.
Mr Perry, a provider of misinformation about the presidential election, accepted on Monday his role in introducing Mr. Trump to an officer in the Justice Department. That official, Jeffrey Clark, was ready to support Mr. Trump by urging Georgia to invalidate his election votes for Mr. Biden.
The plan never worked out. But Mr. Perry, a retired National Guard general who dodged The new metal detectors in the Capitol rejected calls by the Democrats to step down.
Equally determined in defending Mr. Trump were the fellow Republicans of Pennsylvania House, who on Jan. 6 voted to reject the state’s electoral votes for Mr. Biden. Representative Conor Lamb, a Democrat from western Pennsylvania, said on the floor of the house that his Republican counterparts should be “ashamed” of spreading lies that led to the breach of the Capitol. His passionate speech almost triggered a fist fight.
“The Trump people released a message,” We’d better see you fight for us publicly, “Lamb said in an interview this week.” Halfway through 2022 is becoming a candidate who loves Trump the most, “he said of GOP Main competitions.
But he called this an opportunity for Democrats to speak out on issues that affect people’s lives, like the economy and the pandemic, while Republicans remain fixated on the 2020 election. “You are making your main political argument at this point on the basis of a fraud. You cannot make it under real conditions,” he said. “The election was not stolen. Biden really beat Trump.”
Mr Lamb, who has won three races in districts that voted for Mr Trump, has been mentioned as a candidate for the open Senate seat. “I would say I’ll think about it,” he said.
Aside from the House delegation, much of the Trumpist takeover in Pennsylvania took place in the legislature, where Republicans held a majority in both houses in November (a result the party fails to mention in its vehement allegations of electoral fraud in the presidential race ).
Unlike states like Georgia and Arizona, where senior Republican officials exposed disinformation about Mr. Trump and his allies, in Pennsylvania no senior Republicans in Harrisburg pushed back false claims about election results, some of them created by the legislature itself or from Mr. Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.
A majority of Republicans in the General Assembly called on the state’s Congressional delegation in December to reject the state’s 20 electoral votes for Mr Biden after the results were legally ratified. The pressure from grassroots Trump supporters was so great that Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said in an interview last month that if she refused to join such an effort, I would have my house bombed tonight. ”
The full acceptance of Mr. Trump’s lies about a “stolen” election followed months of Republican lawmakers reiterating their opposition to the coronavirus threat. Legislators who appeared at the ReOpen PA rallies in Harrisburg in May, disregarding the masks and crowd boundaries, turned into a leadership position Suppliers of disinformation about election fraud after November 3rd.
A state senator, Doug Mastriano, who is widely believed to be considering running for governor, paid for fine and offered rides to the Save America protests in Washington on January 6th, which preceded the violation of the Capitol. Mr. Mastriano has said He left before events got violent.
When lawmakers called its 2021 session, Republicans again committed themselves to a tough agenda. Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat, was ousted as President of the Senate by a Republican majority in a January 5 legislative session. Mr Fetterman had vigorously protested Republicans’ refusal to set up a Democratic legislature whose narrow victory had been officially certified.
Republicans are in the State House try to change how judges are elected to ensure a Republican majority in the Supreme Court after the current Democratic-minded court ruled against claims in electoral fraud cases last year.
Republican lawmakers have also embarked on a lengthy scrutiny of the November election, despite no evidence of anything more than trivial fraud, and the courts denied claims that election officials exceeded their legal mandates.
Republicans announced 14 hearings in the house. Democratic Foreign Secretary Kathy Boockvar was grilled on the first last week. She dismissed the series of hearings as a “charade,” calling on Republicans not to sow further suspicion of the integrity of the state elections, which, despite a pandemic, reached a record turnout of 71 percent.
“We have to stand together as Americans,” Ms. Boockvar said in an interview, “and tell voters that these were lies, that your votes were counted, checked, checked, counted in many places and the numbers added.” and they have been certified. “