In 2016 the Democratic Party and their media allies sought to elevate Donald Trump and boost his chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination. The "crazy" real estate tycoon, they reckoned, couldn't possibly defeat a candidate as impeccably credentialed as Hillary Clinton. The rest is history.
Democrats are up to their old tricks in 2022, meddling in Republican primaries across the country in support of "crazy" candidates endorsed by Trump. Indeed, the same party that wails incessantly about the "existential threat to our democracy" is spending millions of dollars to nominate individuals who backed Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.
These candidates can't possibly win a general election, the Democrats reckon. Never mind that the party in power rarely does well in midterm elections, or the fact that Joe Biden is one of the most unpopular presidents in history and national Democrats are increasingly out of touch with normal American voters. What could go wrong?
Gov. Phil Murphy (D., N.J.) last month praised the testimony of former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan. 6th select committee. "We must continue working together, both Democrats and Republicans, to protect our democracy," said Murphy, who serves as vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).
The DGA has been particularly aggressive when it comes to attacking moderate Republicans and boosting their Trump-backed primary opponents, and has no regrets about deploying these controversial tactics. "The best way to protect democracy is by electing Democratic governors," said DGA communications director David Turner, suggesting the only difference among GOP primary candidates was whether their "extremism" was "explicit" or "implicit."
Some are "committed to overturning democratic elections," while others "refuse to commit to protecting democracy," Turner said. "Educating voters early on the clear contrast between MAGA Republicans and Democrats creates a clear and undeniable distinction that voters will recognize, and defeat the radicalism in November."
Here are the top five so-called election deniers the "pro-democracy party" has helped win gubernatorial primaries in competitive swing states in the hope that Democrats won't screw up this time.
Doug Mastriano (Pennsylvania)
Democrats spent almost $1 million on ads boosting the Republican candidate's conservative credentials and his support for Donald Trump's agenda. (Mastriano spent just $370,000 on his own ads.)
Mastriano attended the January 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and spent thousands of dollars to transport Trump supporters to the capital. Vox reports that some Democrats were not entirely enthusiastic about their party's effort to promote a candidate who "really believes Trump's lies about 2020."
The race is especially crucial to so-called defenders of democracy because the governor of Pennsylvania gets to appoint the secretary of state, the official in charge of certifying election results. FiveThirtyEight gives Mastriano a 26 percent chance of winning the race against Josh Shapiro, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Darren Bailey (Illinois)
Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D., Ill.) and the DGA spent $30 million attacking Aurora mayor Richard Irvin, a moderate black Republican, in an effort to boost the Trump-endorsed candidacy of state senator Darren Bailey, whose primary win prompted the Washington Post editorial board to urge Democrats to "stop promoting Republican extremists."
Bailey, who embraced Trump's claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election, has a 1 percent chance of defeating Pritzker in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Dan Cox (Maryland)
Democrats spent $1.2 million backing Cox, who emerged victorious in the state's GOP primary on Tuesday. The DGA funded ads designed to bolster Cox's campaign by calling him "too conservative" and "too close to Trump."
His support for Trump and the former president's belief that the 2020 election was stolen will probably make it tough to win a state Biden won by 33 percentage points. Nevertheless, FiveThirtyEight gives Cox a 10 percent chance of winning.
Kari Lake (Arizona)
Lake is expected to win the GOP gubernatorial nomination on Aug. 2. Arizona Democrats are doing what they can to make that happen by attacking her more moderate opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson.
A former Trump critic and Democratic donor, Lake secured Trump's endorsement in 2021 after embracing his claims of massive voter fraud. Last month, for example, she attacked Robson for declining to agree that the 2020 election was "stolen."
FiveThirtyEight, which considers Lake the presumptive GOP nominee, gives her a 52 percent chance of becoming the next governor of Arizona.
Stacey Abrams (Georgia)
Democrats allowed Abrams to run unopposed for the gubernatorial nomination despite her dangerous claims about the 2018 election. Abrams has repeatedly claimed (without evidence) that she "won" her gubernatorial campaign against Gov. Brian Kemp (R., Ga.), whose actual victory in the race she described as an "erosion of our democracy."
Nevertheless, Democrats and their allies in the media refused to denounce Abrams for defiling our cherished democracy with her baseless claims of election fraud. Kemp is favored to win the rematch in November, but FiveThirtyEight gives the election-denier a 14 percent chance of pulling an upset.
Donald Trump (United States of America)
Meanwhile, Democratic-aligned groups such as the "pro-democracy" Lincoln Project are spending their liberal donor's money on ads that serve no discernible purpose other than trolling Donald Trump into running for president again.
While it would certainly help the Lincoln Project and the Democratic Party raise money, it is unclear why hysterical liberals concerned about the mortal threat to American democracy should feel good about another Trump candidacy, especially when most Democrats think Biden is too old and unpopular to run for reelection, and the party's best alternatives are Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and California governor Gavin Newsom.