This year, left-leaning groups and candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars in an effort to influence GOP primaries across the country, trying to elect more controversial and far-right candidates for the general elections. While their efforts may have some success in a few places, they’re beginning to see concern in certain Democratic circles that the tactic may lead to the election of far-right candidates, particularly in a political environment that the left is losing more and more influence in.
Here are a few of the candidates that Democrats have helped elect this year.
Dan Cox, the GOP nominee for Maryland governor, was endorsed by Donald Trump and faced competition against former State Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who was backed by Republican governor Larry Hogan, an outspoken critic of Trump and a two-time governor of the blue state.
Cox argued against Hogan’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded January 6 by organizing buses for individuals to travel to the rally.
Cox won the nomination this week with help from the Democratic Governors Association, who spent more than $1.16 million on television ads highlighting Trump’s endorsement of Cox and the first-term state delegate’s loyalty to the former president.
The message ultimately helped boost Cox to victory as the GOP’s conservative base flocked to support Trump’s handpicked candidate.
The Democrats believe that a Trump loyalist will be too divisive and allow them to flip the governor’s mansion.
Similarly, in the state of Illinois, Darren Bailey, nominee for governor, will be going up against incumbent J.B. Pritzker. Bailey previously had introduced a bill that would split Illinois into two states. Chicago, an extremely liberal city, would be the center of one state, and the rest of Illinois would make up the other.
Bailey faced five other republicans, including Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. Irvin was leading Bailey in the polls, until Pritzker and the DGA spent significant money in an effort to promote Bailey’s Trump endorsement and weaken Irvin.
The tactic worked, and the effort may have been successful in Illinois, a blue state that Biden won by 17 points in 2020. A more moderate candidate such as Irvin may have won over more centrists, but Bailey’s pro-Trump credentials may lose him the overall election and secure Prtizker a second term.
And one of the most competitive races, that has yet to be won by either side, is that of Kari Lake, a GOP candidate for Arizona governor. Lake faces tough competition from Karrin Taylor Robson, who has endorsements from both former Vice President Pence and outgoing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
Democrats have been donating to Lake in an effort to flip the state that has become increasingly competitive in recent years, and with two factions of GOP fighting in the state, they hope to take advantage of the division and win.
Finally, in Pennsylvania, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro has donated to the GOP primary campaign of Doug Mastriano, who easily won the primary and became the nominee for governor. Thinking that they would have an easy win, the race has been predicted to be a much closer outcome than originally anticipated.
Mastriano is trailing Shapiro by only a few percentage points, and while Shapiro is still predicted to win, in such a bleak political climate for Democrats, it may be that their efforts backfire.