DeSantis will campaign for 2020 election deniers, report says

·4 min read

Gov. Ron DeSantis will be traveling across the nation this month to campaign for some of the top Republican deniers of President Biden’s victory in 2020, Fox News reported, including one involved in the notorious Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington.

Amid increasing speculation that he will run for president in 2024, DeSantis is set to appear at rallies for Pennsylvania GOP governor’s candidate Doug Mastriano, Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake and U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, all of whom have denied Biden’s win and falsely claimed election fraud.

DeSantis is partnering with the conservative group Turning Point Action at a rally for Mastriano, Lake and Masters.

DeSantis is set to appear in Pittsburgh for an Aug. 19 rally with Pennsylvania state Sen. Mastriano, Fox News reports.

Mastriano has received scrutiny for a resolution he issued in late November 2020 calling on the legislature to name its own set of electors for ex-President Donald Trump despite Biden’s victory there.

According to Pennsylvania public radio station WHYY, Mastriano also spent more than $3,000 to bus 100 Trump supporters to Washington, D.C., for Trump’s notorious “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, which was followed by a pro-Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol.

Mastriano was seen crossing police barricades during the attack, WHYY reported, though he said he did not cross any lines of law enforcement.

Mastriano also is under fire for his ties to the alt-right media platform Gab, whose founder Andrew Torba has posted antisemitic messages. Mastriano said in a statement that Torba “doesn’t speak for me or my campaign.”

DeSantis was one of the first Republicans to suggest state legislatures could overrule voters to choose Trump.

Appearing on Fox News on Nov. 5, two days after the election, he said “presidential electors are done by the legislators and the schemes they create and the framework. And if there’s departure from that, if they’re not following law, if they’re ignoring the law, then they can provide remedies as well.”

Since then, though, he’s been coy on whether he acknowledges President Biden’s victory. Asked if he accepted Biden’s win in December 2020, he said, “It’s not for me to do. … The [electoral] college voted. What’s going to happen is going to happen.”

A governor’s office spokesperson did not return a request for comment Monday.

“It shows that regardless of whether he specifically said it himself or not, he seems to be firmly in their camp,” said Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. “... If you’re going to support those candidates, it suggests that it’s you’re in that camp that believes that Trump didn’t legitimately lose and that state legislatures have the right to overturn the results of a popular vote in the state.”

As part of his tour, DeSantis also will be in Phoenix on Aug. 14 to rally for Masters and Lake, Fox News reports.

Lake, a former TV anchor, has said the 2020 election was “stolen” and Trump was “the true winner.” She’s also said she would not have certified Biden’s win there if she were governor at the time.

Incumbent GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, the head of the Republican Governors Association, had called Lake a “fake” who was “misleading voters with no evidence” about the 2020 election, according to AZCentral. But following Lake’s primary win last week, Ducey tweeted his congratulations and promised the RGA would support her.

Masters, meanwhile, has not only falsely claimed the 2020 results were fraudulent, writing on Twitter last year, “America’s most powerful institutions conspired to manipulate the 2020 election [and] Donald Trump should be president today,” but has also questioned 2022 results in advance.

“Whatever their cheating capacity is, I’m pretty sure they pulled out all the stops,” Masters said at a June event, according to CNN. “And the question is, will that happen again?”

In Florida, DeSantis initially praised the state’s 2020 election process, saying it “finally vanquished the ghosts of Bush vs. Gore” from the chaotic 2000 election.

But he and GOP legislators ended up following the lead of Trump, who falsely claimed there was massive voter fraud, and moved to enact voting restrictions limiting the use of drop boxes and curbing vote-by-mail.

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