Trump’s influence on GOP hardens down to state and local levels

WASHINGTON — Months after Donald Trump left the Oval Office, Republicans at the state and local level are cementing their loyalty to the one-term president, assuring that Trump will remain the party’s future despite his November defeat.

From espousing his discredited election conspiracy theories to threatening to secede, state and local officials are increasingly leaving aside community issues to reflect Trump’s ongoing hold of the national GOP.

The extension of Trump’s dominance in the GOP down to local leaders  compounds the party’s consolidation behind an uncompromisingly right-wing, grievance-oriented politics that centers conspiracy theories and threats to democratic legitimacy.

“What is historically new is the orientation of all local and state politics towards distant national and ideological issues. This is polarizing and disabling,” said Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University who studies authoritarianism. “Local and state government is meant to handle local and state issues.”

One Trump grievance that has worked its way into state and local parties: the 2020 election. In Colorado, state GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown was reelected after making repeated claims there are “very valid questions still being asked about the 2020 election.”

FILE - In this May 6, 2021 file photo, Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. For some conspiracy theorists, the 2020 election still hasn’t ended. Trump supporters are pushing to re-examine ballots from November across the country, and finding success in swing states like Arizona and Georgia. Their efforts and sometimes misleading conclusions are being gleefully amplified by the former president. (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool) ORG XMIT: AZMY203

In Arizona, the GOP-controlled state Senate launched a months-long audit of 2020 presidential election in the state’s most populous county, a move strongly opposed by Maricopa County Republican officials as its justifications are rooted in baseless conspiracy theories.

Since Trump’s loss in the state, Arizona Republicans have alleged a number of false election fraud conspiracy theories as reasons for his defeat. The state GOP has launched a third ballot audit, which is now being conducted by the firm Cyber Ninjas, whose chief was a strong proponent of the “Stop the Steal” campaign that came to a head at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Source: USA Today – Breaking News

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