With the primaries over and a new focus on the general election, the Republican Senate candidate in Washington state has removed references to “serious questions about the integrity of our elections” from her campaign website.
The episode is the latest in a string of incidents where some Republican candidates in recent weeks appeared to be scrubbing their online presences of positions that could allow them to be painted as extreme, often related to the issue of abortion or former President Donald Trump.
In Washington, the campaign of Tiffany Smiley, running against five-term incumbent Democrat Patty Murray, downplayed the move, saying the website change occurred after the Aug. 2 primary to allow for rolling out a more detailed platform.
“Shortly after the Primary Election in Washington, Tiffany Smiley unveiled her Agenda for Recovery and Reform to provide Washington voters more detailed information on the pertinent issues she will tackle as their next U.S. Senator,” Cale Ottens, a spokesman for the Smiley campaign, told HuffPost.
“Tiffany’s agenda is now available to view on her website, and it will be updated regularly with more information as we continue to roll-out the full agenda in the days and weeks ahead,” he added.
Before the primary, Smiley’s website included an “Issues” section, and one of areas listed separately was “Election Integrity.” The section stated, “The 2020 elections raised serious questions about the integrity of our elections and caused millions of Americans to question their confidence in our electoral process” and it accused Democrats of supporting changes that would “truly put our elections in further jeopardy.”
The section echoes Trump’s claims that there was significant fraud in the 2020 election results that cost him the presidency. These theories are completely unfounded.
Trump has continued to repeat this claim and as recently as this week sought to be named the winner or have a do-over election conducted.
The “Issues” section was replaced by one labeled “Agenda” that carried over much of the material in the previous version — but not the election integrity part. That new section is the one the Smiley campaign says is updated regularly and will see additional material added ahead, though Ottens did not specify if that would eventually include the election integrity material.
“In light of undeniable evidence that Donald Trump incited an insurrection to overturn a free and fair election, Tiffany Smiley has chosen repeatedly to back up Trump’s lies and echo debunked MAGA talking points about voter fraud,” Murray campaign spokesperson Naomi Savin said.
“Now that the primary is over, she’s trying to hide her extreme views from Washington voters even on issues as important as our democracy — and it’s not going to work,” Savin added.
Despite the scrubbing, Ottens said Smiley still supported election process changes outlined in the deleted election material, including updating voter rolls, voter ID requirements and voter signature verification.
“Tiffany’s position has not changed on this issue,” he said.
“Now that the primary is over, she’s trying to hide her extreme views from Washington voters even on issues as important as our democracy — and it’s not going to work.”
The removal comes as GOP candidates across the nation have taken steps to strip their online presences of material that played to a conservative base. The Washington Post recently found at least nine GOP candidates nationwide had removed references to Trump or abortion from their online profiles.
A Republican running for Congress in Pennsylvania reduced the number of website references to Trump from 11 to two and significantly toned down the boosterism for the former president. An Arizona Republican running for Senate cut language saying “if we had had a free and fair election” Trump would have won. A Pennsylvania GOP candidate for governor removed videos of subjects as diverse as climate change and abortion.
Smiley, a former triage nurse, has focused her campaign on her Washington roots and support for her husband, an Iraq war veteran who is blind. She’s accused Murray of trying to paint her as extremist, and went so far as to release an ad saying that while she was anti-abortion, she did not favor a nationwide ban on it.
Asked if the website changes raised questions about the candidate’s integrity, Smiley spokesman Ottens said, “Since the day Tiffany Smiley launched her campaign in 2021, she has been nothing but forthright and authentic to the voters of Washington, and this will not change.”