HARRISBURG, Pa. — Former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election have been debunked by the courts, his own Justice Department and scores of recounts.
But in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where Trump lost by 80,000 votes eight months ago, they’re finding new signs of life.
A Republican state lawmaker, bolstered by campaign trail support from top Republican candidates for governor and US Senate, has launched a push for a “forensic investigation” of the presidential election results, a review modeled on the widely discredited process underway in Arizona.
The effort is likely to face legal challenges and is still limited to three counties, where it is getting pushback even from Republican commissioners. But its march forward is forcing many to stop viewing it as one lawmaker’s pet project and take it seriously.
The audit has fast become a litmus test in an election cycle where an open governor’s office and an open US Senate seat — the political equivalent of a blue moon — have triggered fiercely competitive Republican primaries.
That has some GOP party officials and donors squirming with discomfort, albeit quietly. Some Republicans privately worry that the spectacle of a protracted election audit is a time bomb that will damage not only the state’s democratic institutions, but also the party’s credibility with critical swing voters.
“Most of the Republicans I know, at the very least, have misgivings and, at worst, are like me and realize this is just really a blunder of epic proportions,” said former congressman Charlie Dent, a centrist Republican from the Allentown area. “Why bring the Arizona clown show to Pennsylvania?”
Those worries have been easily drowned out by supporters of the effort.
One, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has claimed that Trump “ asked me ” to run for governor, is the ringleader of the audit campaign and is fundraising off it.
“All I’m asking for is a transparent and thorough investigation to prove to US voters that our votes were fairly counted, and that we have nothing to worry about,” Mastriano wrote in the email appeal last weekend.