OPINION: Ask about election integrity

There’s this thought that any Republican running for election, whether it’s for senator or dogcatcher, ought to be asked about the persisting claim that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen. I’d be willing to give the dogcatcher a break, but that’s about the end of that list for me.

Candidates aligning themselves with former President Donald Trump, those supported by the former president, have won in Republican primaries, and election integrity is an issue. Americans ought to have confidence in the electoral process and it’s not a healthy situation when they don’t. But what about the local candidate? Does any and every Republican running for office need to be asked about denying election results?

Remember that there were, as the New York Times put it in a headline on Jan. 7, 2021, 147 Republicans “who voted to overturn election results.”

The Jan. 6 insurrection arrived, as the Times story the following day put it, “shortly after some Republican lawmakers made the first of a planned series of highly unusual objections, based on spurious allegations of widespread voter fraud, to states’ election results.”

You might at one time have thought Connecticut candidates could mostly be spared the inquisition faced by their party colleagues in different parts of the country or on the national stage. But Trump-backed Leora Levy upset Connecticut’s former House Minority Leader Themis Klarides in the primary earlier this month. While that appears to ensure clear sailing for incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, it’s worth acknowledging the possibility that for the next six years Connecticut could be represented by Levy in the Senate.

I don’t imagine it’s comfortable for some Republicans to be asked about this — can you accept Trump’s backing and accept the 2020 election results? Voters deserve a forthright response. And election integrity should be a question for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

It’s also worth asking Democrats about this whole business of promoting Trump candidates. The idea is that if you back a Republican extremist in the primary the Democrat has a better chance of winning when it really counts. Early this month, Newsweek reported Democrats, as a headline stated, “spent $43 million helping election deniers win their primaries.”

This is a lousy way to go about things, a cynical approach that spurs the fed-up response to politics as usual that helped Trump get elected in the first place. You could say it’s just the way of the world now, but accepting that is a kind of surrender and we shouldn’t. We should be talking about it a lot, because elections are the opportunity to hold those in office, and those who want to be, accountable. Remember that displeasure has a standing invitation to make itself heard at the ballot box.

So we ought to ask Democrats about that. Wouldn’t that money have been better spent promoting candidates and communicating their platforms?

I know, I’m an idealist. But it’s fair enough to ask candidates about that. See what kind of answers come back. When you ask candidates about these things you’re reminding them the election process they’re now participating in is under threat. How they feel about it and what they think can be done are as important questions as any in 2022.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.




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