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Scrambling for ways to hold on to power through November’s midterm cycle, it seems Republicans are opting to back phony Green Party candidates in hopes of confusing voters.

After all, in a close contest a Green Party candidate siphoning away a few thousands votes from Democrats could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

That strange scenario is currently playing out both in a New York House race and the Montana Senate race, where local Green Party candidates have been found out to be GOP operatives.

The latest instance involves incumbent Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY). It turns out the one-time Green candidate Michael Zack, who abruptly dropped out this month after questions were raised about his background, used to intern in Collins’ office.

“The former Green Party candidate in a Congressional race has been exposed as a Republican plant with ties to the GOP congressman he supposedly sought to challenge,” the Daily Beast reports.

Previous and since-removed social media posts tag Zack as a far-right conservative. He’s not someone committed to the Green Party agenda of ending war and advocating for clean energy.

“I have a hard time believing that someone in [Collins’s] campaign wasn’t aware of this,” said Erie County Green Party chairman Eric Jones. “The local Republican leadership is aware of this; it’s part of their playbook.”

Out in Montana, we saw the same type of duplicitous scheming.

“A man who registered as a Green Party candidate for Montana’s U.S. Senate race was on the state Republican Party’s payroll and heads a newly formed anti-tax group, according to a review of election documents,” the Great Falls Tribune reported last month.

The state’s Green Party coordinator told the newspaper it cannot deny anyone from filing a candidacy under the party’s name, but that they would do their best to vet all candidates.

Underhanded tricks like these are what Republicans during the Nixon era referred to as “rat fucking” — finding unique, unethical ways to try trip up your opponent.

It’s likely we’ll see more of these desperate maneuvers as Republicans brace for a possibly punishing November.

IMAGE: U.S. presidential election ballot in 2000, when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader drew enough voters to deny Al Gore the White House, despite his popular-vote majority.

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