“Since Trump’s defeat, the three states’ Republican-controlled legislatures have been dedicated to passing limits on absentee and mail-in voting, among other things,” reported Reuters. “Democratic governors Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania stood in their way.”
In all three states, the GOP primaries for governor are being dominated by extremists who would roll back voting rights, spread anti-democratic conspiracy theories like the Big Lie, or even attempt to overturn the next presidential election.
Pennsylvania GOP candidate Doug Mastriano was subpoenaed this week for his efforts to illegally overturn the 2020 election. In Michigan, James Craig has called for a sham, partisan audit of the election results. And in Wisconsin, Rebecca Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson want to prevent the use of drop boxes in future elections.
“They say every election is the most important of our lifetime. Well, this one is,” said Kadida Kenner, executive director of a non-partisan voter registration group.
Read more on how Democratic governors are standing in the way of Republican attempts to restrict voting rights below:
Democrats are in jeopardy of losing their long-time firewall against new voting restrictions in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin should Republicans who support such curbs win competitive governors’ races in those states in November.
Republican victories in the three states could have profound implications for the 2024 presidential election. Nicknamed the “blue wall” after helping President Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in 2020, they also were home to challenges from Republican officials trying to overturn the election’s results.
Doug Mastriano, a state senator running for governor in Pennsylvania, worked with Trump’s lawyers to challenge the 2020 outcome. James Craig, a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, has called for an audit of the election results.
Rebecca Kleefisch, the top Republican contender for Wisconsin’s governor, filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the use of drop boxes in upcoming elections.
“They say every election is the most important of our lifetime. Well, this one is,” said Kadida Kenner, executive director of the non-partisan New Pennsylvania Project, a group that works to register new voters.
The governors’ contests, like lower-ticket races involving everything from secretaries of state to county clerks, have taken on increased significance given Republican efforts to roll back voting rights and oversee election administration ahead of 2024.
Since Trump’s defeat, the three states’ Republican-controlled legislatures have been dedicated to passing limits on absentee and mail-in voting, among other things. Democratic governors Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania stood in their way.
With Evers and Whitmer now facing tough re-election fights and Wolf unable to run again due to term limits, voting rights advocates are scrambling to warn voters of the stakes. Political analysts consider all three races to be toss-ups.
On Tuesday, days after launching a bid for Wisconsin’s governorship, Republican state Representative Timothy Ramthun staged a rally at the state capitol that called for the 2020 election to be overturned. Some in the crowd carried banners that said, “Trump Won.”
That evening, Evers, who analysts say may be most at risk in the three governor’s races, warned in an address to the state that “we must not take for granted” the right to vote.
Last year, Evers vetoed a Republican package that included provisions that would make it more difficult to cast absentee ballots. Republicans in the state Senate last week introduced a new version of the measure.
The nominal favorite in the Republican primary for governor, former lieutenant governor Kleefisch, recently asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the use of ballot drop boxes. Another gubernatorial candidate, businessman Kevin Nicholson, has said they are illegal.
Pennsylvania’s governor’s race holds extra consequence for future elections. The state’s governor appoints the secretary of state, who oversees election administration.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is replacing Wolf on the Democratic ticket. A poll conducted this month by the Trafalgar Group showed former U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, an ardent Trump supporter, leading the pack of more than a dozen Republican gubernatorial candidates, followed by Mastriano.
After the November 2020 election, Mastriano convened what he called a field hearing featuring Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to examine whether there was widespread fraud. Later, he traveled to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally and took part in protests outside the U.S Capitol.
This week, the select congressional committee investigating the Capitol siege subpoenaed Mastriano, asking for details about a plan to submit an alternate slate of electors from his home state.