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he GOP lawmakers who backed Donald Trump-driven election challenges that metastasized into violence on Jan. 6, 2021, aren’t taking much campaign-trail heat for it.
Democrats don’t lack for material to slam Republicans as election-denying riot boosters, and in fact many of them deploy that attack while in Washington: A majority of House Republicans voted to oppose certifying 2020 results — a sentiment backed by many of their candidates, too. But given that most GOP objectors occupy comfortably red seats, Democrats are limited on where they can use those certification votes as a successful issue this fall.
As a result, criticism of the 139 House Republicans who voted to challenge Trump’s loss on Jan. 6, 2021, has been all but absent from the TV airwaves with 25 days to go before the midterms. Just a handful of them are in close races, where they’ve faced questions about their election objection in debates, social media and smaller-scale ads. Democrats view that as part of their larger focus on “extremism.”
Overall, less than 2 percent of all broadcast TV spending in House races has gone toward Jan. 6 ads, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact — or just $2.7 million of $163 million. Taken in total, Democrats have aired just two dozen spots focused on threats to democracy this cycle, in roughly 16 different battleground districts.
Still, in the places they do appear, Democrats say the election-protection message is making a difference in some unlikely turf, helping them paint GOP challengers and incumbents as too extreme in places like rural Wisconsin, suburban New Jersey and Phoenix’s East Valley. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), for one, called his battle against GOP opponent Kelly Cooper — who has sown doubt about the 2020 results — a “test case.”
“My opponent is way, way outside the mainstream. He’s an extremist candidate. … This guy is a threat to our democracy, and I’ve got to bring it up in this race because it is a real problem that people are concerned about,” Stanton said.