- Romney criticized Democratic efforts to boost GOP candidates who have questioned the 2020 election.
- “It’s not illegal but it sure is stupid,” the Utah senator told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
- Democrats have elevated several candidates that they feel will falter in the general election.
Sen. Mitt Romney on Tuesday criticized Democratic efforts to bolster Republican candidates who have embraced former President Donald Trump’s debunked 2020 election claims, arguing that the strategy was a “stupid” approach that could harm the country.
The Utah Republican — who was one of the first Senate Republicans to congratulate President Joe Biden on his electoral victory in November 2020 — said that Democrats spending money to elevate far-right candidates while banking on their lack of electability in the general election was a risky move that could end up backfiring.
“It’s not illegal but it sure is stupid,” he told The Huffington Post. “Be careful what you wish for. You may select somebody who actually wins and then you hurt the country as well as your own party.”
Romney has long swatted away Trump’s debunked allegations of voter fraud that have become a staple of the GOP since the former president’s election loss.
And he has been highly critical of the former president’s conduct and has broken away from him when many in his party refused to do so.
In 2020, Romney voted to convict Trump for abuse of power in the then-president’s first impeachment trial centered on the Ukraine scandal. And the senator also voted to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol.
But he sees the Democratic push to influence GOP primary voters to back candidates who questioned the 2020 results in states like Maryland and Pennsylvania as a problematic way of winning general election races in the fall.
In Maryland, Trump-aligned state Del. Dan Cox won this week’s GOP gubernatorial primary over Kelly Schulz, a former state delegate who led Maryland’s labor department and commerce department under popular Gov. Larry Hogan.
Schulz’s campaign, quite aware of the moves that Democrats were making in her race, even released a video pointing out the meddling — with a narrator stating that Cox as the GOP nominee would “ensure” that the party would not retain the governorship this year. (Hogan, a popular moderate Republican, is term-limited.)
Democrats feel that Cox’s deep embrace of Trump’s election claims will sink his general election candidacy against their party’s projected nominee, author and former nonprofit executive Wes Moore, in a deep blue state that nevertheless will still send Republicans to the Governor’s office.
In Pennsylvania, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro spent over $800,000 to boost state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was endorsed by Trump in the GOP gubernatorial primary and has stood behind the former president’s election claims. Mastriano won his party’s primary, but he is only running a few points behind Shapiro in one of the most politically competitive states in the country.
And Democrats — including wealthy Gov. JB Pritzker — invested over $35 million to influence the Illinois gubernatorial primary, where Trump-backed state Sen. Darren Bailey defeated Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who was supported by a slew of GOP officials and business leaders.