WASHINGTON — The 147 congressional Republicans who tried to throw out Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory to keep Donald Trump in power will have to live with that choice forever, if a new super PAC does what its founders hope.
“We’re going to try and make sure that these members of Congress own this for their careers,” said David Bowes, one of the two Democratic campaign veterans behind the “Never Again PAC” and its associated super PAC.
Bowes, a former aide to Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, and Ian Moskowitz, most recently with the Biden campaign, hope to raise and spend $4 million by the time of the 2022 midterm elections. The money would help defeat 10 to 15 of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress who voted on Jan. 6 to overturn results from states won by Biden — even after a violent mob incited by Trump swarmed the Capitol building and forced them to hide for their lives.
The pair has made a 45-second ad that splices footage of pro-Trump rioters attacking police officers at the Capitol with title frames that label the 147 Republicans the “treason caucus.”
Of the eight Republican senators who voted to reject the election results, only one is up for reelection next year: John Kennedy, in the relatively safe GOP state of Louisiana. Of the 139 House Republicans, Bowes and Moskowitz said that they plan to analyze which ones seem most vulnerable. Some possibilities include Mike Garcia, in a Southern California district Biden won by 10 points, and Beth Van Duyne, in a Texas district Biden carried by 5 points.
“We’re going to see where things shake out,” Moskowitz said. “We know what they did, and we’re going to make sure their constituents know what they did.”
They may have their work cut out for them, as the vast majority of the Republican Party and much of the country’s political press corps appear to have shrugged off what Trump did and now treat him as a legitimate candidate for the 2024 presidential nomination.
When Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney continued to speak out against Trump’s post-election conduct, she was ousted from her No. 3 spot in House GOP leadership and replaced with someone willing to spread Trump’s continued lies about the election. Press coverage, meanwhile, routinely elides Trump’s attempt to overturn the election he had lost to remain in power as it features quotes from his advisers about his strategy for 2024.
“It’s extremely concerning that the Republican Party is trying to move on. It’s why this organization exists,” Bowes said. “Republicans want to pretend Jan. 6 didn’t happen, but we’re here to say, ‘Never again.’ We’re going to make sure voters never forget exactly who put our democracy at risk.”
And Moskowitz pointed to recent polling showing that Americans, by nearly a two-to-one margin, continue to blame Trump for the Jan. 6 attack. “The general public is angry about it,” Moskowitz said. “We know that this message resonates. We think that it has staying power.”
Trump spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election, starting with his lies in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 4 with claims that he had really won in a “landslide” and that it was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.
After the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump began urging his followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to intimidate his own vice president and members of Congress into overturning the election results and installing Trump as president for another term anyway. The mob he incited attempted to do just that as it stormed the Capitol. His supporters even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and two others took their own lives soon afterward.